We went into the appointment assuming that his feeding tube was going to be staying in for the foreseeable future and that we were going to have to keep shooting for normalcy. However, Dr. Plotnick was persistent in his belief that we should remove Arthur's feeding tube right away. He told us that, now that Arthur's liver has returned to normal, if Arthur eats every day but eats less calories he's not in immediate danger of going back into fatty liver syndrome. He also said he believes that the presence of the feeding tube itself might be holding Arthur back from eating as much as he should.
He said we don't need to obsessively count Arthur's calories as long as we see him eating consistently. We have a follow-up appointment next Friday to see how Arthur's weight and health do in his first week without the tube. If it's a problem, we can always move back to force feeding with a new tube or a syringe.
So we made the leap. The tube is out and, though Arthur has a bandage around his neck while the hole heals up (about 36 hours), he is now tube-free and we can see that he is much much happier. He was affectionate throughout this ordeal, but he is even more affectionate now. The picture above shows him snuggling on the ottoman between our feet. When we took this shot, we were sitting watching a movie and he came up and sat on Liz's lap and kneaded her and then sat on mine and then settled between our feet.
He has been eating, but the usual nibble here and there. However, to be honest, the amount he is eating might be equivalent to what he was eating before he got sick. It's hard to say because he always snuck into the kitchen and grabbed some kibble when nobody was looking rather than eating huge amounts right when we put food down (like his brother does). We have seen him going into the kitchen late at night to grab more food.
We are cautiously optimistic that he has turned the corner and will be eating enough on his own. As usual, Dr. Plotnick has made us feel really confident in what we are doing. He is an amazing veterinarian, we have a ton of faith in him, and we believe we can't really go wrong. He's done as much for our mental health as for Arthur's physical health.
If you've read about our saga with the old vet, you know that the old vet had said at one point that we shouldn't worry about how much Arthur was eating and we wrote that off as bad advice when Arthur's condition worsened. However, as Dr. P pointed out, there's a big difference between that time and this one. When the old vet told us we shouldn't be concerned about Arthur's food in-take, he was in the throes of intense liver disease. Now his liver is normal and Dr. P tells us that he will not go back into fatty liver if he has a few days where he is eating less than we would like.
However, you'll forgive us for still being a bit obsessive about how much Arthur is eating and still watching him closely. Hopefully he starts eating a bit more in front of us.
Another side effect of the tube removal is that, once we remove the bandage tonight, Liz will start sleeping in the bedroom again. She has been sleeping on the living room couch every night for the last month so she could keep an eye on Arthur at night and make sure his brother didn't wrestle him and pull the feeding tube out. With no more tube, we can both go back to sleeping in the bedroom.