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Air Under Cat's Skin?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
We took our 1 1/2 y/o Katie to the vet yesterday because of vomiting and diarrhea. Blood work was good, x-rays were negative---probably a virus. I've given her sub-q fluids and syringe fed her because she has no appetite at the moment. The vet mentioned that Katie's x-rays showed air trapped under the skin on her left side. They had looked all over her little furry body for a puncture wound of some kind, but couldn't find anything. The vet explained that sometimes a puncture wound can let air enter the body and cause a build-up that usually disipates within 7 days. If you press your fingers on Katie's side, it almost feels as if she's got tiny pieces of bubble wrap under her fur! The vet said it's nothing to worry about, just sort of unusual.
I think the only way Katie could have received a puncture wound would have been from 'fighting' with one of the other kitties. (mine are all indoor only cats) I've never heard of anything like this before, and was wonderng if anyone else had.
BTW, a few vibes for my little girl probably wouldn't hurt, either.
post #2 of 31
Could there have been air in the syringe when you injected her with the fluids?
post #3 of 31
In humans it's called surgical emphysema - will pass with time and if she's well in herself with no obvious injuries (as assessed by your vet) then things should just settle.

(human doctor contribution...!)
post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 
Could there have been air in the syringe when you injected her with the fluids?
No, I didn't give her the fluids until after we got her home again. I suppose it could have happened when the vet's people gave her fluids, but you'd think they'd know better.

In humans it's called surgical emphysema - will pass with time and if she's well in herself with no obvious injuries (as assessed by your vet) then things should just settle
Thanks for the info; I never knew such a thing could happen!
post #5 of 31
It most likely happened when she was given her sub-Q fluids...especially since you cannot find any puncture site that would point to a bite wound. Usually a bite wound that would be large enough to allow air under the skin would be large enough to detect....and if it were actually a bite wound, chances are, it would be infected. The air you feel under the skin is also called subcutaneous emphysema, and should resolve in a couple of days. The air is just absorbed into the body. Cleo had it once when I first started doing sub-Q's on her. I also remember one of my patients back in nursing school had it really bad around a chest tube after surgery. It almost sounds like rice crispies crunching.
post #6 of 31
Yep, just like rice krispies.
Should resolve and there is not enough air in a subQ line to give cat subQ Air. There should never be that kind of air in a subQ line or needle ever.
The skin actually has to be pulled away some from the muscle to cause air inside and it is due to trauma not giving subcutaneous fluids.
post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
The skin actually has to be pulled away some from the muscle to cause air inside and it is due to trauma not giving subcutaneous fluids.
Ok, that worries me. What could have caused something like that? Katie is an indoor only cat and, aside from rough-housing with the other 4, I don't know how she could have suffered any kind of trauma.

Could that also be why she's feeling so puny? It's Saturday noon, and she hasn't eaten on her own since Wednesday afternoon. The diarrhea has stopped, thankfully. She did vomit after I syringe fed her the 2nd time this morning but I think that's probably my fault for feeding her too much. If what ever is causing her to feel bad is a virus, would this air trapped under her skin just be making her feel worse, or is it totally unrelated?
post #8 of 31
Does kitty have a fever? It sounds unrelated to me. There may be a small puncture wound not found. Somtimes you have to shave away hair to find it. Usually a puncture wound will cause an abcsess. SHe could have tumbled and played with the other cats and one tooth went into her skin.
Is there still a crackling noise?
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
No fever when the vet examined her. I asked about an abcess, but they couldn't find anything. I just checked her, and couldn't hear that little crackling sound today.
I was pretty sure the diarrhea/vomiting was unrelated to the air, but it concerned me. I asked my DH if he'd noticed any falls or missed jumps lately. He said about a week ago, Katie tried to jump from the bathtub into the window and missed, and fell into the tub. I suppose that could have been the trauma that caused the air situation.
That doesn't explain why she stopped eating and drinking Wednesday. If it is nothing more than a virus, as the vet seems to think, do you think it may run it's course in a few days time?
post #10 of 31
I would say if she starts eating and drinking normal and acting normal then I would not be too concerned and also do to no hearing the air. HAs she returned to normal eating and her diarrhea cleared up?
post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Katie hasn't pooped since yesterday--still a little loose, but with some form to it. (sorry about that if there are any squeamish folks out there).

She hasn't eaten since Wednesday afternoon, only what I've syringe-fed her. Same with drinking--nothing but her sub-q fluids and eye droppers of water.

Katie was an out-side cat whose 'owner' moved away and left her. We've had her for 10 months, and she's had her vaccinations, but not knowing what she may have gotten into when she was an outside cat is what worries me. I know it's probably nothing more serious than an intestinal virus of some sort and all I can do is wait it out. It's not knowing exactly what's wrong that makes it hard.

I just hope she remembers, at some point, that she's supposed to eat and drink without my help.
post #12 of 31
I dont get the not eating and drinking with her being such a young cat. SHe should pull through quicker. DID the vet run any blood work on her? I would strongly suggest this. It will check her kidneys and liver and check for anemia as well, plus check her white cell count. When does she go back to the vet?

Im sorry I read your post again and they said the labs were normal. What medications is she on at home. .

She should be eating on her own. When did this whole bout of diarrhea and vomiting start.
post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 
The last time I know for certain that Katie ate was Wednesday afternoon; she begged for her crunchy treats and ate them. Wednesday evening she had diarrhea, and into Thursday a.m. I open a can of moist food every morning for the 5 of them to share and she refused to eat Thursday. I took her to the vet that morning. Sha hasn't eaten or drunk anything on her own since Wednesday.
The vet said I could leave her at the clinic over the weekend, but there wouldn't be anyone there (except coming in to check on the animals twice a day) so what was the point? I can monitor her better at home.
They mentioned the next course of action would be a set of barium xrays. The xrays they took Thursday were negative for anything out of the ordinary. If she hasn't started eating on her own by Tuesday, I'm going to have to call them to set up the barium xrays.

I got her to sniff at some tuna a little while ago, and managed to get a few tiny bits into her mouth, but she wouldn't eat them on her own. And, she's not on any meds at the moment.
post #14 of 31
You're still syringing her food, right? And she's keeping it down?
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
You're still syringing her food, right? And she's keeping it down?
I sure am--every 4 hours. She hasn't thrown-up since yesterday morning, and I think that's because I tried to give her too much at one time. She's just a small girl, only weighs 8 lbs., and has never been a big eater. She seems to be ok keeping smaller amounts down, so I'm trying not to stess her by trying to make her eat too much at one time.
post #16 of 31
I can understand that. How much are you feeding each time? I'm still trying to adjust the amounts with Willow, who also isn't eating. She was 8 pounds but has dropped to right around 7 pounds 1 ounce, give or take a couple of ounces. Unfortunately because I work longish shifts, I can't feed her every 4 hours, so I'm still trying to determine the right amount of food at each feeding. She was always a grazer in the past and never did eat much.
post #17 of 31
Poor gilr. They are going to give her a barium series of xrays to check for some sort of blockage or thinning or thickening of bowls.

Im thinking of they don't find anything on that they might need to do an exploratory on your little one.

Does she vomit hairballs. is she long haired? Does she eat things, string, dental floss, could she have gotten into something like that?
post #18 of 31
Thread Starter 
How much are you feeding each time? I'm still trying to adjust the amounts with Willow
I just measured the syringes I've been using, and it comes to just under 2 oz. at each feeding. I know that doesn't sound like much, but if I try for more Katie throws up. I've syringe-fed several cats in the past, and have had to adjust for each one. I'm sorry you're going thru this with your Willow. Do you have a diagnosis for her?

Does she vomit hairballs. is she long haired? Does she eat things, string, dental floss, could she have gotten into something like that?
Katie is short-haired and is the only one of my 5 that actually likes that malt-flavored hair ball remedy. She hasn't coughed up a hair ball in ages. This past week, it's been undigested food. I suppose it's possible that she could have gotten into something, but I try really hard to make sure small edible things aren't left lying around. I'm scared to death one of the cats will swallow something they shouldn't.
So, while I was sitting here typing Katie just threw up 2 tiny little spots of phlegm--no food, just foamy phlegm. *sigh*
post #19 of 31
How many ccs is the 2 ounces? We don't have a diagnosis for Willow yet--possibilities include FIP even though she's not the right age range, lymphoma, bacterial or fungal infection, or immune disorder. Basically, we have no idea. She'll be going in to the specialist on Tuesday.
post #20 of 31
So not eating on her own and diarrhea and vomiting. How often is she vomiting?
post #21 of 31
Thread Starter 
How many ccs is the 2 ounces
Using the handy water method of measuring just now, I came up with 8 cc=2 tsp; 24cc=
6 tsp, which is 2 Tbsp, which would be 1/4 cup, or 2 oz. (those cc to tsp. numbers are approximations) You might want to check that yourself; like I said, it's early, and math has never been my strong suit. I hope your specialist can find a cause for Willow's problem. It's one thing to know what's going on with your kitty, it's different when you have no clue as to what's causing the problem.

So not eating on her own and diarrhea and vomiting. How often is she vomiting?
For the last couple of days, it's only been when I've tried to feed her too much at one time. I can tell when she's had enough, but if there's only a little bit left I try to get it into her. This morning I gave her an ounce by syringe, then hand-fed her some canned chicken cat food. She immediately threw up when I put her down. I waited a few minutes, gave her another ounce by syringe and she kept it down just fine. I did a quick search on this site last night regarding the tiny amount of foamy liquid she threw up and came up with 2 reasons for that; 1) she's hungry and 2) she has an upset stomach. I'm giving her 1/4 of a Pepcid tablet daily, hoping that will help with the upset tummy.
It looks as if I'll be calling the vet Tuesday morning. If this was just a virus, I'd think she'd be over it by now. I don't know that she's pooped since Saturday, either. Granted, she's eating nothing but paste from a syringe, but wouldn't that be enough to make her poop occasionally? I can understand not eating if you're feeling puny, but the not drinking part really worries me.
post #22 of 31
Isnt she going in for a barium on thursday? Sure sounds like something is blocking her food from getting down. The barium as I said will check for a blockage or thickening somehwere.

We had a cat at the clinic one time thats esophagus was smaller at the entrance to the stomche. DO not even know hwo that happened. She had to have surgery to correct it.
post #23 of 31
Thread Starter 
Katie is confusing me big time. Yesterday, DH decided she needed some grass, so he brought some in and she actually ate it. Of course, 5 hours later it came back up again. She also ate a couple of pieces of dry kitten food.
This morning, she hasn't thrown up at all. The vet called and when I told her all the weekend events she was as confused as I am (she's an intern). She talked to the head vet, who decided we should treat this as IBD. So, I started the prednisone this morning and she actually ate some prescription d/d food on her own! Yea! She's been circling the food dish meowing at me, even tho' there are 4 different kinds of food there to tempt her. I'm still going to syringe-feed her a few times today and see how things go.
The vet said if the vomiting decreases significantly, we'll keep her on the prednisone. If the vomiting continues, we'll do the barium xrays. If those don't show any blockage, they want to check for heart worms (since she was an outside kitty for months). Her breathing is fine, so they really don't think it's necessary to check her for the heart worms at this point.
She's been really lovely today, wanting attention constantly (which is normal fo her). Keep your fingers crossed that the meds take care of the problem.
post #24 of 31
post #25 of 31
Thread Starter 
Katie has eaten some dry food on her own, but it comes back up within an hour. I'm really relieved that she has an appetite, I just wish she could keep more food down. She's vomiting about every other time she eats, whether it'd something she's eaten on her own or I've syringe-fed her.
I still wonder if she's fighting off a virus. Today is the one week mark of her vomiting/diarrhea problems; the vet said a virus should run it's course within a week, so I guess we'll see.
It's funny, the first time I put the d/d food in front of her, she ate it up. After that, she wouldn't touch it. Picky, picky. That's what's going in the syringe now, whether she likes it or not!
post #26 of 31
All that vomiting is hard on her. I would opt for the barium series anyhow, it really seems like there is more going on than IBD.

Read about IBD on my website. Click below and search the right panel for IBD
post #27 of 31
My kitty (the one that lives with my mom) had that problem too. Hers was under different circumstances. My mom found her under a bush one afternoon panting, foaming at the mouth, and she had pooped on herself. My mom cleaned her up and noticed that she was barely breathing. She took her to the emergency room and the vet said she had a collapsed lung. They put her in an oxygen chamber to help her breathe and they didn't know if she would make it. Funny thing is, they couldn't find any puncture wound on her either, so we never found out what could have happened. They got her all fixed up, and she had the air under her skin too from where the air had leaked out of her lung. It was weird, and when you pet her head it crackled. I called her bubble wrap head for a while. She's fine now though!

I hope your kitty gets all better!
post #28 of 31

We live in the country and Our cat C is strictly a house cat we let him out to go potty, well for some reason he took off and returned a day later. He was having trouble breathing, hardly moving and from his neck clear down his back to his tail was like someone took a needle and inflated air under his skin, like airing up a basketball. we contacted our vet and they told us there was nothing they could do that he was going to die. He looked miserable and we almost had him put down but decided to keep an eye on him. Its been a week and now he is up jumping around being normal. The skin still feels like air but all else seems good. Just wanted to reply because this is the first time we have ever seen this thank you for you story. 

post #29 of 31

I think you are right on and I think it's called the same thing in a cat.  I was told that occasionally when cats are intubated (sp?) that the trachia gets a small tear and air escapes into the body.  This happened to a small kitten I was fostering when she was spayed.  

post #30 of 31

I had been trying to figure out what this was since my cat presented with similar symptoms last night. the only difference with my Macy is she was spayed a week ago. the surgical emphysema diagnosis seemed accurate for her symptoms. we did take her back to the vet last night when symptoms presented and they said there was nothing that could be done so were hoping she gets over this very soon she seems so uncomfortable :-( she is eating and drinking but not acting like her normal self she seems to just sleep most of the time.just very uncomfortably ;-(  I'm glad I came across this thread now I see Macy isn't the only kitty this has happened to the vet had never seen it before and didn't have a diagnosis just that he figured air  got in somehow during her spaying 

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