Is there anything more stressful than a sick fur-baby? They can’t tell you what hurts or what they could have gotten into or what happened if they show up injured. Vets are good but we expect them to be mind-readers and psychics as well as healers, and that’s a tall order! So instead they order tests to rule out possibilities one by one. It always seems to me that we’re finding out more about what the animal doesn’t have than what it does!
What brings this up is that one of my cats, Blackberry, an 8-year-old DLH black kitty, got suddenly sick this week. She was fine one day and the next morning we woke to find several spots where she had vomited bile. And then came the diarrhea and the lack of interest in breakfast. Of course we have a trip planned for next week (how do they always know?!) so we want her well before we leave. So off to the vet!
Hoping it was just a passing bug, we just treated her immediate symptoms - an anti-nausea shot, another to calm the intestines and fluids to keep her hydrated. But no, that was not the case. The next day the vomiting stopped but the diarrhea was worse – it was just pouring out of her, poor dear. Still no interest in food, and hiding in unusual places which are all signs of a sick cat. So back to the vet for the next step which was a blood panel and fecal test – along with more fluids (diarrhea quickly dehydrates both animals and people and is the leading cause of death in babies). The good news is everything was normal. Except that the diarrhea was still very bad so clearly she was not feeling normal! She’s living in the bathroom, poor dear, since she had no control over her bowels and both she and the room were a mess.
The fecal was normal too which means there was no easy explanation for the cause of the intestinal upset. She is an indoor cat except in our beautiful cat enclosure so it’s hard to imagine that she got into something toxic. My foster kittens also were having diarrhea from coccidea but that rarely affects adult cats - certainly not this dramatically, and her exposure had been limited. And none of our other three adult cats have been affected making it even more puzzling. This is when you wish that something (simple, of course) had shown up in the tests. Then you would know how to treat it. In the meantime, she was on Flagyl (metronidazole) which calms the digestive track and is wonderful at helping with diarrhea (we use it frequently with kittens) as well as different foods to tempt her to eat.
The vet said she may just be an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) cat which is hard to confirm – you have to do a biopsy of the intestines for a definitive diagnosis – so it’s more often diagnosed by the way the cat responds to treatment. If the medication helps then you are usually looking at a lifetime of treatment (if severe) or only treating flare ups. But that’s a topic for another article!
I’m just hoping we can get this under control before we have to leave. It’s so unfair to pet sitters to leave them a sick animal to deal with! The only good news in this whole situation is that we had taken out veterinary insurance on Blackberry so we’ll see how much of the hundreds we’ve paid so far will be reimbursed. Isn’t pet ownership fun?
Registration for our popular Kidz ‘n Critters summer camp program for students in 2nd-7th grades is now open. $125 per camper/$25 sibling discount for a one-week fun camp experience. Each session is M-F, 8:30-1:00 and includes a camp T-shirt.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.