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Neurological question (sorry long)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi, I used to lurk on these forums a long time ago, but can't remember my username or what email address I used to sign up on.

We had the scariest and saddest thing happen.

All of our cats are indoor cats. Occasionally over the years one or another would make a rush for the forbidden front door, but we were always able to get them back inside. Except for one.

We tried every trick there was. I left dirty litter and clothes by both doors. Went out every night late at night. Left food, a shelter box, you name it, we tried it. The cat that got out was a very very scared, fragile and timid little lady. She was the most sensitive of all our cats. She stayed with me in my office most of the day. She was lost almost a month ago.

Sometimes I would think I would hear her, outside a window, but my husband said I was hearing things. I still left food out every night and would get up very early in the morning before it got light to bring the food in. The food was gone in the morning but I never knew if it was her or one of the umpteen neighbor or stray cats. I had borrowed a cat trap from a local rescuer friend, but all it managed to trap was the next door neighbor's cat.

Early tuesday at 4:30 when I got up, there she was on the back porch.

Never in my life have I seen a skinnier cat. She was nothing but skin and bones. She was never a fat cat but she did have a bit of a belly before. She was all ratted, full of fleas, and just laying next to the food bowl with her head pressed up against the wall. I brought her in and fed her, gave her water, tried to clean her up. She just wasn't right, and I thought it was because she was so malnourished and dehydrated. I was planning on taking her to the vet when they opened. She was stumbling when she tried to walk. She was also walking in circles, and just acting odd, her behavior was bizarre. She wanted to curl up with the dog, who she usually hates.

Finally at about 6:30 I couldn't take it anymore and couldn't wait for my vet to open, so I drove her to an emergency 24 hour hospital. They admitted her and put her on a feeding tube and drip. They did bloodwork which all came back fine, and I was thrilled beyond words to hear her liver was OK, I was so afraid of that. I went to the hospital to spend some time with her after work, and stopped feeling so positive. I was sure she was blind. She didn't appear to see me at all, both pupils were dilated and not responding to light. They had noticed the pupils earlier in the day and had given her some medication but it didn't seem to fix it. I told them when I brought her in I was sure she could see because of some of her behaviors

She was in the hospital for 2.5 days there and they recommended a neurologist referral. I brought her to the neurologist today. I found him a bit rude but I'm also extremely upset and know I'm not thinking clearly. I did feel he was very knowledgeable. He did an extensive exam and felt that there is either a tumor or lesion somewhere between her optic nerve and the brain, or she had a stroke. He feels she is totally blind in one eye, but has partial sight in the other. The question he was unable to answer was, could she make sense of what she was seeing. He said without an MRI it would be hard to make a full diagnosis. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I brought her home and rearranged my office to make it a safe place for her. She's still circling but after a few hours has managed to learn where the food and water is so she doesn't step in it, and has learned where the litter box is so she doesn't step in that either. At first she would walk right through both of them as she was circling. She has had food and water but hasn't used the litter box yet.

She's terrified right now, just in abject misery. There was one other cat who was very attached to her, and watching him is hearbreaking too. I'm keeping the cats separated but he hasn't left the opposite side of the closed door.

She's so young, just short of her 6th birthday. I really expected to have this girl for many years to come. I can take her for the MRI next week but I'm not sure what that's going to do. I was dumb and didn't ask about the treatment for either condition, I wasn't thinking clearly.

Has anyone had a cat that either had a stroke or some type of tumor or lesion in the brain or on a path to the brain? Was there any treatment for this? Or a blind cat? I went out to YouTube and watched some videos there of cats that were blind and they seemed to have really adjusted well but my husband says I'm forcing her to suffer by all this and should have her humanely euthanized. He says if she can see but can't comprehend what it is she's seeing what quality of life is that. I don't know, I haven't really slept since I found her, or lost her for that matter, and I just can't stop crying. Anyway, sorry this is so long, and thanks for reading.
post #2 of 8
I am so sorry for your kitty! Unfortunately, I cannot offer you anything but some good vibes to help her get better . Do keep us posted as to what the vet says. Your story is heartbreaking!
post #3 of 8
I'm so sorry that all of you are going through this.
Here's my thought on this, for what it's worth. The huge complicating factor is the fact that you don't know when the problems started so the clues that would help identify the underlying problem aren't available.

If it was a stroke, treatment works best when it is started within a couple hours of the stroke. The major improvement occurs within the first several days to a week, with minor improvement continuing for a year. And the minor can be very minor.

If it is a tumor, surgery, radiation and chemo are your options, depending on the type of tumor. Chemo is usually not as effective as radiation in this area. The location of the tumor may prohibit surgery. The location of the tumor may be causing pressure on the optic nerve and causing the blindness in the one eye. There is no guarantee that the vision will be cured by treatment, but it might get better. It is important to know the prognosis based on the type of tumor.

If it is a stroke, knowing the extent of the involvement will help you know what to expect. Strokes cause some confusion in the victim - one minute life is normal and the next everything is different. It can cause changes in the ability to understand (intrepret) what is going on. It can cause personality changes. The amount of changes and the ability of the vivtim to adapt to the changes varies greatly.

One other possibility would be a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The symptoms would be the same, but the cause is different. Usually a fall or car or baikes fo kids. One of the kids at school had one in early September and is just now getting her vision back to normal. I'm not promising that can happen to your cat - just that it can take weeks to know what improvements will happen.

I would try to give it some time and see what the MRI shows and how she is adapting after several days at home. Remember she has been outside and then in the hospital - even without the neuro issues, that can be traumatic for a cat.

Thoughts and prayrs headed your way.
post #4 of 8
I don't have any advice to offer, just . I'm so sorry that you and this kitty are going through this terrible time. How very sad.
post #5 of 8
On thing I do know is that when you lose one sense, your other senses (smell, touch, hearing, taste) heighten.

Good luck with your results. I'm sure your kitty has many more years to come
post #6 of 8
that she will be okay. I'm so sorry that you are going through this. Finding a lost kittie should be a happy time. But this has become so bad.

I hope that what ever is wrong, it is treatable.
post #7 of 8
Hey... she seems to be already adjusting... learning where the food and water are... Human blind folks do OK, and so do kitties; it just takes a while to learn. The cause of her blindness I am more worried about; you need to call that vet back up and ask him about prognosis and treatment. At worst, you have a little time to spend with her before the end; at best, she can make a full recovery. Blindness isn't a reason for euthanasia, in my book; she is confused and scared now, but once she learns her environment she will be much happier and more secure.
post #8 of 8
When my Maggie was very little (6 months, maybe) she suffered from idiopathic vestibular syndrome. Many of her symptoms are similar to your kitty's. She circled in a counter clockwise direction constantly. She stumbled and fell. She wasn't blind, but did have very significant nystagmus (where the eyes go rapidly back and forth, side to side.) My vet felt it was viral, and she did seem to improve fairly quickly. Of course, I did a lot of internet research on her symptoms, and they could have been cause by a central nervous system lesion.

If your sweet kitty has had some type of stroke, the possibility of her condition improving, however slowly, is probably pretty good. Brain tumors, of course, are less good, but not always fatal. Cats deal with total or partial blindness very well, since their senses of hearing and smell are infinitely better than ours. I would certainly not consider euthanization for blindness! If she has checked out healthy for other medical issues, perhaps having her kitty friend with her would help her adjust better to all of the problems she is having now. Would it be possible to put them together for some supervised visitation and 'get to know each other again' time? It migh help calm both of them.

I will certainly keep you and your sweet kitty in my prayers. Please keep us updated on her. Don't make any hasty decisions. See what the MRI shows, and talk to the vet about treatment plans and prognosis. Remember, she's been outside for quite a while. Just the trauma of being outside (for a timid kitty) can be quite overwhelming. Give her time to adjust to being with you again. You're doing everything you can to help her get better. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.
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