My name is Rebecca Fischer and I am a local artist specializing in pet portraits. I am also a 51-year-old woman and a pet lover. I have two cats. These facts may not be interesting to you, but I promise if you are close to my age and have pets, the story below will matter to you.
If you are a menopausal woman like me, you probably know about bioidentical hormones. Remember the Suzanne Somers book a few years ago? Basically, bioidentical hormones are a natural way to replace the estrogen and other hormone levels that we lose during menopause. The doctor takes a blood test and prescribes a cream that is applied to the inside of the arm or the back of the leg twice a day. The hormones in the cream are absorbed through your skin as part of HRT, ‘hormone replacement therapy.’
What does HRT have to do with your pets?
About a month ago, my Bengal cat (Lucy) came down with a horrible cat cold. She was drooling and sneezing, eyes watering and she wasn’t eating. As you may know, when cats can’t smell their food, they won’t eat and can starve themselves to death. Lucy is five years old. She was extremely sick and I was so sad to see her in this condition. I was determined to nurse her back to health, which meant holding her in a bathroom filled with steam every two hours and syringe-feeding her medicines. My poor Lucy suffered with this regimen for at least two weeks, until she finally showed signs of recovery.
A few days later, I noticed some decidedly unusual behavior from Lucy. She was howling like a siren every hour, rolling around on the rug and rubbing her body against furniture.
I was awakened at 3am to the sounds of Lucy caterwauling every night. It was quite maddening. I had to take her to the vet.
One of the first questions I was asked when I brought Lucy to the vet was if she had been spayed—she was exhibiting signs of being in heat. Lucy was already spayed and was five
year old. My vet, Dr. Feldman, thought that maybe she was not spayed properly and should have her estrogen levels tested.
The blood test results came back for my five-pound cat, showing the estrogen levels of a 30-year-old woman!! Lucy obviously was in heat after all!
Finally, (it takes me a while sometimes) a light went off in my head. While nursing Lucy back to health, I was handling her a lot. She even slept in my arms. And, since my hormone
cream was on the inside of my arm, it was highly likely that it had absorbed into her skin. My hormone estrogen cream likely got onto her cat hair, and as we all know, cats lick
themselves a lot. They are exceptionally clean animals. It all suddenly made sense: if the hormones enter my blood stream through my skin, why wouldn’t my estrogen absorb
into poor Lucy?
The vet had never experienced this before, and I think it’s because bioidentical hormone creams have not been around for very long.
Finally, Lucy is over her siren stage. Nevertheless, I wanted to share my story, so if you use hormone creams or any topical medications, please keep them away from your pets. I now only use mine on the back of my knees and cover up my legs. I am not putting my cat into heat again!