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View Full Version : Older cat, puzzling set of symptoms ... thoughts? (long, sorry!)


purpleprose
October 23rd 06, 11:45 PM
Hi all, it's my first post here on the boards. I just thought I'd post about my 14-year-old cat Sunny. It's quite a long story but I'll keep it as short as possible.

She's had pain in her legs for a while which several vets have put down to arthritis, which makes it very hard for her to climb or jump. She also had a cough which was diagnosed as probable feline asthma. Apart from that, she didn't really seem to be ailing anything - even the legs didn't seem to bother her much, because she's always been quite a lazy cat anyway. *lol* She had been starting to eat less, and to look a little thinner, but I figured the eating less was just her age, and the weight loss didn't worry me unduly either because previously she had been too fat and I'd been putting out less food, I thought I was just seeing the results of that.

A couple of weeks ago she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis. The vet gave her a routine exam, prescribed an eye ointment and didn't make any other comment on Sunny's condition, other than to suggest I get her tested for diabetes, to rule out that as a possible cause for her mobility problems. I thought a while and decided to get it done, but before I had a chance Sunny suddenly became very ill.

The first I knew about it was when I realised she had diarrhoea. (She sometimes 'goes' outside, so it is possible this had started before I became aware of it.) She passed blood a couple of times, and seemed distressed, miaowing in a whimpery sort of way, her purr also sounded 'bubbly'. She protested loudly when picked up, like her stomach was hurting.

Took her to the vet (a different one from the week before), who organised some bloods, sent me
with her and told me to wait for the results to come back the next day. However, she deteriorated in the next few hours - just looked/was acting so ill it was as if she were at death's door. Rushed her back, had to see yet another vet, who pronounced her severely dehydrated. (I felt terrible, as she'd been at the water bowl as often as usual so I didn't realise, but he said whatever had caused the diarrhoea probably would have caused her to take in smaller amounts, as well as losing it out the other end of course.)

OK, so here's where it gets weird: results from the 'standard' set of bloods revealed - nothing.
Second set of tests (different ones, can't remember exactly what) - nothing.

As far as the vet explained it to me, I believe they had tested functioning of pretty much major organ. He did explain that it didn't rule out cancer, but he couldn't feel anything. She was X-rayed - all this showed was gas buildup around her abdomen, which he said was probably part of her system going into trauma.

She was put on fluid/electrolyte therapy and antibiotics for 2 days. During that time I was told she seemed to perk up quickly, was eating a little, no more diarrhoea, temperature up at one point, but otherwise recovered as expected. In the meantime a thyroid test revealed ... nothing!

She looked and acted a *lot* better when I picked her up (5 days ago now, and it's been a week since the emergency dash to the vet) but since she's been home I'm finding it really hard to assess how she is doing. At times she's the old Sunny - purring loudly, coming up for petting and fuss, rolling over to be tickled, rubbing her head against things etc.

At other times she seems lethargic and withdrawn - that doesn't constitute a noticeable change in
of habits where Sunny's concerned, because she's always been a lazy cat - but I must admit I am wondering whether what I had put down to old age was actually a sign of encroaching illness. It's hard to know what to think. I've given her the antibiotics she was prescribed, but it's really hard to assess whether they've made any difference.

The other big problem is she's eating very little (about the equivalent of one of those really small tins of Hi-Life cat food daily, I'd say) and has been drinking very little, although that is now picking up somewhat. Consequently she's not been using the tray much either. (She doesn't seem to be getting dehydrated again - I've been checking her gums and also checking for the skin tenting thing.) It is really weird with the eating, because she's showing a *lot* of enthusiasm when food is produced, miaowing away and getting excited like she always has, but then she only eats a tiny bit at roughly hourly intervals. She often attacks the food with gusto but I have been noticing that she seems to be chewing oddly and sometimes will just lick the food instead. Vet had said her mouth was OK, but I'm going to ask him to check again.

Speaking of the vet ... this is the bit I have found the most confusing and upsetting. He is still adamant that she is ill (even though he admits he doesn't know what she has) and that it might be terminal. He pretty much told me to prepare myself and that there aren't many options left to try! Difficult to know what to think, because he couldn't seem to tell me very clearly what he was basing his opinion on it seemed to have a lot to do with her appearing lethargic and having a poor coat. I don't want to be in denial (especially with her being the age she is), but Sunny's coat's never really been in great condition and she often mooches about the place looking like she doesn't want to do much again, she's done that ever since I got her when she was 7!

I am wondering whether to get a second opinion, mainly because another vet might have more of an idea what it is she might have, and then she could be treated properly - this vet can't think of much else to try her with now apart from steroids, which he says are a last resort! He also doesn't seem to feel there are any more tests we can usefully do on her. I keep hoping she's had something like a bug that's really taken it out of her and that she'll need time to bounce back from. Maybe that's just wishful thinking though - obviously what's at the back of my mind is that it's something like a cancer which has escaped detection somehow.

Sorry, I know this has been really long! I just needed to get it out, and also wondered if anybody else had had similar experiences with their cat? If so, any thoughts would be much appreciated - thanks! :)

Buddy's Mom
October 24th 06, 01:37 AM
If you said her age, I missed it - sorry. BUT sounds like kidney
failure to me. See another vet!

purpleprose wrote:
> Hi all, it's my first post here on the boards. I just thought I'd post
> about my 14-year-old cat Sunny. It's quite a long story but I'll keep
> it as short as possible.
>
> She's had pain in her legs for a while which several vets have put down
> to arthritis, which makes it very hard for her to climb or jump. She
> also had a cough which was diagnosed as probable feline asthma. Apart
> from that, she didn't really seem to be ailing anything - even the legs
> didn't seem to bother her much, because she's always been quite a lazy
> cat anyway. *lol* She had been starting to eat less, and to look a
> little thinner, but I figured the eating less was just her age, and the
> weight loss didn't worry me unduly either because previously she had
> been too fat and I'd been putting out less food, I thought I was just
> seeing the results of that.
>
> A couple of weeks ago she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis. The vet
> gave her a routine exam, prescribed an eye ointment and didn't make any
> other comment on Sunny's condition, other than to suggest I get her
> tested for diabetes, to rule out that as a possible cause for her
> mobility problems. I thought a while and decided to get it done, but
> before I had a chance Sunny suddenly became very ill.
>
> The first I knew about it was when I realised she had diarrhoea. (She
> sometimes 'goes' outside, so it is possible this had started before I
> became aware of it.) She passed blood a couple of times, and seemed
> distressed, miaowing in a whimpery sort of way, her purr also sounded
> 'bubbly'. She protested loudly when picked up, like her stomach was
> hurting.
>
> Took her to the vet (a different one from the week before), who
> organised some bloods, sent me
> with her and told me to wait for the results to come back the next day.
> However, she deteriorated in the next few hours - just looked/was acting
> so ill it was as if she were at death's door. Rushed her back, had to
> see yet another vet, who pronounced her severely dehydrated. (I felt
> terrible, as she'd been at the water bowl as often as usual so I didn't
> realise, but he said whatever had caused the diarrhoea probably would
> have caused her to take in smaller amounts, as well as losing it out
> the other end of course.)
>
> OK, so here's where it gets weird: results from the 'standard' set of
> bloods revealed - nothing.
> Second set of tests (different ones, can't remember exactly what) -
> nothing.
>
> As far as the vet explained it to me, I believe they had tested
> functioning of pretty much major organ. He did explain that it didn't
> rule out cancer, but he couldn't feel anything. She was X-rayed - all
> this showed was gas buildup around her abdomen, which he said was
> probably part of her system going into trauma.
>
> She was put on fluid/electrolyte therapy and antibiotics for 2 days.
> During that time I was told she seemed to perk up quickly, was eating a
> little, no more diarrhoea, temperature up at one point, but otherwise
> recovered as expected. In the meantime a thyroid test revealed ...
> nothing!
>
> She looked and acted a *lot* better when I picked her up (5 days ago
> now, and it's been a week since the emergency dash to the vet) but
> since she's been home I'm finding it really hard to assess how she is
> doing. At times she's the old Sunny - purring loudly, coming up for
> petting and fuss, rolling over to be tickled, rubbing her head against
> things etc.
>
> At other times she seems lethargic and withdrawn - that doesn't
> constitute a noticeable change in
> of habits where Sunny's concerned, because she's always been a lazy cat
> - but I must admit I am wondering whether what I had put down to old age
> was actually a sign of encroaching illness. It's hard to know what to
> think. I've given her the antibiotics she was prescribed, but it's
> really hard to assess whether they've made any difference.
>
> The other big problem is she's eating very little (about the equivalent
> of one of those really small tins of Hi-Life cat food daily, I'd say)
> and has been drinking very little, although that is now picking up
> somewhat. Consequently she's not been using the tray much either. (She
> doesn't seem to be getting dehydrated again - I've been checking her
> gums and also checking for the skin tenting thing.) It is really weird
> with the eating, because she's showing a *lot* of enthusiasm when food
> is produced, miaowing away and getting excited like she always has, but
> then she only eats a tiny bit at roughly hourly intervals. She often
> attacks the food with gusto but I have been noticing that she seems to
> be chewing oddly and sometimes will just lick the food instead. Vet had
> said her mouth was OK, but I'm going to ask him to check again.
>
> Speaking of the vet ... this is the bit I have found the most confusing
> and upsetting. He is still adamant that she is ill (even though he
> admits he doesn't know what she has) and that it might be terminal. He
> pretty much told me to prepare myself and that there aren't many
> options left to try! Difficult to know what to think, because he
> couldn't seem to tell me very clearly what he was basing his opinion on
> - it seemed to have a lot to do with her appearing lethargic and having
> a poor coat. I don't want to be in denial (especially with her being
> the age she is), but Sunny's coat's never really been in great
> condition and she often mooches about the place looking like she
> doesn't want to do much - again, she's done that ever since I got her
> when she was 7!
>
> I am wondering whether to get a second opinion, mainly because another
> vet might have more of an idea what it is she might have, and then she
> could be treated properly - this vet can't think of much else to try
> her with now apart from steroids, which he says are a last resort! He
> also doesn't seem to feel there are any more tests we can usefully do
> on her. I keep hoping she's had something like a bug that's really
> taken it out of her and that she'll need time to bounce back from.
> Maybe that's just wishful thinking though - obviously what's at the
> back of my mind is that it's something like a cancer which has escaped
> detection somehow.
>
> Sorry, I know this has been really long! I just needed to get it out,
> and also wondered if anybody else had had similar experiences with
> their cat? If so, any thoughts would be much appreciated - thanks! :)
>
>
>
>
> --
> purpleprose

October 24th 06, 03:07 AM
purpleprose wrote:

>
> Sorry, I know this has been really long! I just needed to get it out,
> and also wondered if anybody else had had similar experiences with
> their cat? If so, any thoughts would be much appreciated - thanks! :)
>


I just had a similar experience. Kira had full geriatric panel in
February and everything was fine.

Took her back in May with an eye infection. Herpes with conjunctivitis.
I got an ointment and a supplement. It cleared up just fine.

In July, it came back, so we did another round of treatment. I had a
bad feeling, so I asked for another round of bloodwork, just to make
sure things were still okay. I lost Maynard suddenly the year before
due to liver failure, so I wanted to make sure I do bloodwork more
often.

It came back clightly anemic, so I got meds for that and went back in
two weeks for a retest. Worse. New prescriptions and back in a week.
Improvement. Back in 2 weeks. More improvement. And weaned off the
meds. She was doing great. Weight back up, coat look great. Back to
being happy and normal.

Then last week, she was worse again. Went in for bloodwork. Worse than
her worst before. But no sign of any other problems, just dehydrated,
eye goop and anemic again. She died 2 days later.

All I can say is, if you feel she isn't right, then she isn't right.
And it may be something that may not show up on tests or just doesn't
seem to fit with the situation.

It seems to me that Kira was probably suffering from Kidney failure,
yet the anemia associated with kidney failure is not the kind she had.
And while the numbers weren't good, she wasn't bad enough to require a
transfusion. From what I have read, that is typically used for
emergency cases of non-regenerative anemia. The cutoff for the the 2
types is 50,000/ul, and Kira was 817,320, well above that. Her
bloodwork came back normal for BUN and creatine. It just didn't point
to anything else.

I do hope that you can find out what it is and come up with a good
treatment plan. I know it is really tough not knowing and just seieng
them go downhill in a hurry.

purpleprose
October 24th 06, 01:55 PM
Thanks for your comments, guys. The plot thickens: she seems as hungry as ever (she sat there this morning looking from me to the food bowl and kept it up until I took the hint and brought food! *lol*) but I've noticed she is chewing oddly, as I mentioned in my original post, and although she gets just as excited as ever about food, her intake is very small. Sometimes a bit of food will fall out of her mouth as she is eating too - she's chewing open-mouthed and with her head back, as though she's trying to bypass the front of the mouth and chew on her back teeth.

Today I also saw her drooling a little, so that decided me - I'm definitely taking her in to have her mouth looked at again.

I will check while I am there whether the vet thinks there is any merit in re-testing her kidney function, last week he did say her urea count was up, but at the time he was putting that down to the stress of her being so ill.

On the good side she is drinking more today, which I am relieved about, and seems fairly cheerful.