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Hypertension? Overactive Thyroid? My beloved 38lb cat just went blind!  

post #1 of 96
Thread Starter 
On the advice of a senior member I'm taking my health question to this area. I'll try to keep it at short as possible because I have the tendency to be long-winded, but inevitably this will be somewhat lengthy because I need to give back history and symptoms in hopes for some solid advice. If you have a few extra minutes and feel like dropping some knowledge I'd be grateful for whatever contribution you make. Thanks in advance!

So my neutered male cat Cooper, is needless to say, extremely important to me. I've raised him since he just opened his eyes. He has big huge beautiful eyes and is a very proud and well mannered feline. He is extremely interactive and nothing like the stereotypical independent cat. He has won my heart fully and unconditionally, and I will literally do anything for him. Unfortunately I free feed him an open buffet of both kibbles and canned food every day and his weight has suffered.

He is very strong and not THAT fat, but combined with his 3'2" length (snout to base of tail) and generous muscle; he has shot up to just shy of 38lbs! This was all well and good until I just became aware of some symptoms that I'm pretty sure can be attributed to his obesity and not genetics.

He has become blind! I only figured it out 2 days ago, but now that I am aware of it he's been having sight issues for about 2 weeks. He peed in the living room for a few days, obviously because he couldn't locate the tray, and now won't sleep on my bed anymore (3' high). His pupils are fully dialated and won't respond to a torch or finger even 2" from his face.

My biggest worry is that this is the onset of something far more life threatening. My best guess is that he has high blood pressure and aquired the "sudden blindness" associated with hypertension. I am also worried about the beginning of kidney failure because he's always drank a lot of water. I've always attributed that to his generous stature though, and he only pees once a day. He could have an overactive thyroid because of his unnaturally large stature. Below are pictures of before and after his eyes started giving him problems.

If anyone has any input or knowledge I'd be grateful as I'm still quite the newbie as far as feline disorders go. All I truly know is that his brother Sampson and I really miss our playmate. He used to be playful, active, vocal, and have his own little attitude. His purr could rattle the windows of even the most sturdy house.

He's still the same old Cooper in some aspects, but now he pretty much just sleeps and goes back and forth from the litter tray and food bowls. He used to have a love for playing with my simulated prey I designed for him and now won't so much as lift a paw. He seems depressed and that shreds up my heart in the worst way. I'm terribly worried about him and have been very sad since I realized what his issue was. He's going to the vet tomorrow, but any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated. I guess I ended up writing too much again lol. Thanks to anyone who has made it this far.

Pics of his eyes then:

Pics of his eyes as of last night:
post #2 of 96
I'm sorry to hear about your kitty's health issues

Unfortunately no one can diagnose or treat your kitty except for a vet. You really need to take him.

I just found out that my older cat Chynna has high blood pressure and when it goes untreated it can "blow out their retinas" and lead to blindness. By the sounds of things it could be what happened to your kitty.

Please take him to the vet and have some blood work done. Yes, it's expensive but if you read the thread stickied at the top of the forum, it will give you some ideas on how to work with your vet so that you can maybe do a payment plan or work off the fee.


Please...take him to the vet tomorrow.
post #3 of 96
I'm sorry to hear of Cooper's problems. I never free feed my furkids, canine or feline. I think the 1st thing to do would be to have set meal times (2-3 smaller meals per day) with a weight reduction diet. The vet will put you on the right track. He will probably do blood tests & check all his vital signs. If you can get a fecal sample & urine specimen. Good luck tomorrow & I hope its nothing too serious.
post #4 of 96
I hope your Cat gets better.
post #5 of 96
It is easy to become distracted at a vet appointment...
Write down your list of questions that you have for your vet and be sure that you understand what he/she is telling you about tests, treatment etc.
The details are important.

At the very least, your vet will certainly want to do a complete blood panel and a urinalysis

post #6 of 96
Second the "get thee to a vet" advice. Blind kitties can learn to get around, though, so this isn't the end of the world.

I'd more worried about the blood pressure than the weight at this point. Kitties can get strokes just like humans can, and this is a definite danger if he has already got damaged eyes from it. I do believe there are kitty blood pressure meds, though, so your vet could help with that. It's probably a near-emergency at this point--see a vet within 48 hours if you can, three days at most.

Don't start a diet on your own. At this size, he will need a vet's guidance--if you reduce his food too quickly his health will suffer; and there could be a metabolic problem complicating things, so he'll need a test for that. You need to feed him as high-quality a food as possible while you're doing this, because otherwise (once again) he won't get the nutrients he needs. A lot of cats get very fat when they're fed foods with lots of filler in them, because they have to eat a lot of that kind of food to get the nutrients they need... combined with a metabolic problem, that could have resulted in his high blood pressure and high weight. If he's a large cat, he would probably be OK at 20 pounds, but that's a long way to go, so it'll mean years of work for both of you.

Even if he never loses weight, high-quality food will definitely improve his health. (They did a study on human overweight people: Change the diet to be healthy, and the people will have less risk of disease, improved lifespan, etc., even if they never lose weight. I imagine the same holds true for cats.)

Enough doomsaying... He's a beautiful cat. His fur looks wonderfully soft... that gray color looks very much Russian Blue; is he a mix?
post #7 of 96
If his blindness is due to a retinal detatchment caused by hypertension, a quick visit to the vet and medication (Norvasc) can often restore his vision, at least partially, and sometimes fully. However, time is obviously of the essence. He definitely needs to be evaluated for kidney issues. Kidney failure is often a cause of hypertension in felines.

Good luck. I will keep your sweet Cooper in my prayers.
post #8 of 96
Bless his heart!! I found this link that has quite a bit of info....

post #9 of 96
Thread Starter 
Wow you folks work fast! I'll try and respond to as much as I can.

1st off, he is absolutely going to the vet tomorrow. I have already written out a list of tests I want done and issues/symptoms he's displaying that I can help inform the vet with. Luckily I'm back from my annual 3 months of welding for the Government so I can foot his bills. I was going to buy a new boat, but I guess that'll have to wait. Material items come and go, but Cooper means the world to me.

I am praying that it is the retinal detachment that some of you folks have listed and that I've seen talked about extensively in my research. If he gets his eyesite back I will absolutely be the happiest man on earth for awhile. It's taken a lot out of him and I think at this stage if he gets depressed it could have deadly results. I'm not ready for him to pass on yet

I'm also aware that kidney failure is a huge reason for hypertension. I would give up everything if his kidneys could just be ok. That's pretty much a death sentence and I just don't have it in me to say goodbye to him yet. If he needs to die then he can because it's his choice, but I would absolutely prefer this to be a treatable diagnosis. I'm so stressed about tomorrow that I can barely sleep and have found myself crying off and on throughout the last day. For a 27 year-old male who considers himself of the "rough and tough" variety it's sure hard to deal with. I feel like a little kid. I just can't say in words how much I absolutely adore Cooper.

About his weight. Believe it or not, even tipping the scales at 37.6lbs he's not really too obese. I mean don't get me wrong he has fat everywhere and fits the medical profile of obese, but he's just plain huge overall. More like a linebacker than a blob. Regardless of it being fat or muscle or both; I know it's hard for his internal organs to keep up. I am aware that he needs a change in diet, and if he is seriously sick then it's going to be even harder to deal with knowing that it's mostly my fault for feeding him like crap. Hopefully we can make some changes in his lifestyle and get him back on track to live another 8-10 years.

Thank-you for the compliments about his looks and coat. IMO he's very deserving of praise as he is 1 in a million at least in the eyes of a proud father haha. I would definitely say he's all or almost all Russian blue. He is 100% gray and from what I gather fits the profile for a true Russian Blue. I have no way of verifying this though as I got him from a rural setting and he wasn't purposely bred. I think he just got lucky with his good looks; now let's hope that his genetics are also just as good health wise.

I promise I never really write this much! This has just hit me so hard and got be worried sick. I know there are lots of knowledgeable cat people on this site, so I just want to offer as much information on my end as I can to help you guys give your much appreciated advice. Thanks again everyone for your quality information and help. I will make sure to heed it all. Take care.
post #10 of 96
I'm sorry, but just from looking at the first photo of your cat, he IS obese. Cats should not have the pudge below the belly, let alone rolling out to their knees. Cats should also have a waist. If I were to guess, you cat should weigh at least 5, maybe 10 pounds less, no matter how big boned he is.

Second, when you go to your vet tomorrow, if you are willing to do anything for the chance to save his sight, then ask for a referral to a veterinary opthalmologist. It may involve a long drive and will probably be expensive, but in my experience, thats your best bet by far, and time is certainly of the essence. Every hour will count tomorrow.
post #11 of 96
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Misskiwi67 View Post
I'm sorry, but just from looking at the first photo of your cat, he IS obese. Cats should not have the pudge below the belly, let alone rolling out to their knees. Cats should also have a waist. If I were to guess, you cat should weigh at least 5, maybe 10 pounds less, no matter how big boned he is.

Second, when you go to your vet tomorrow, if you are willing to do anything for the chance to save his sight, then ask for a referral to a veterinary opthalmologist. It may involve a long drive and will probably be expensive, but in my experience, thats your best bet by far, and time is certainly of the essence. Every hour will count tomorrow.
Oh yeah for sure. I'm not denying he's obese but he's just a little more solid than other morbidly obese cats I've seen. He's not downright stacked like that cat Goliath from Oregon though haha.

Now I'm even more nervous! Every hour counts, but seriously I have a suspicion he's been blind for a week plus now. I only noticed it on Friday evening and my vet opens for the 1st time since then tomorrow. If they can't get me in tomorrow then he'll have to go to the E.R. but I'd rather he goes to a good vet that knows him. I will definitely call the opthalmologist even though I have no idea what that means yet. I will do anything to save his sight short of endangering him even more.

In all honesty he seems like he couldn't care that he's blind. He's purring and eating well and can still "jump" on the automan and then onto the couch. I think I'm taking this way harder than he is haha. I'm so worried because I know it's a sign of something worse 95% of the time . I'll check back in tomorrow if I hear anything new/different.

Thanks for the educated response it's much appreciated.
post #12 of 96
Just an FYI - Blind cats can live normal lives. Take a look at my Damita.

Please, update us as soon as you're back from the vet!
post #13 of 96
Just wanted to also chime in that a diagnosis of kidney failure (chronic renal failure/crf) while not curable, is managable, depending on what stage it is caught at, even in crisis, it's possible to extend their life (and I mean with a quality of life) for some years.

You'll find, if you need it, a thread at the top of the health and nutrition forum on crf and members experiences and their tips/favorite websites etc.
post #14 of 96
no good advice here but wanted to send you and your furbaby some vibes

good luck tomorrow!
post #15 of 96
Thread Starter 
Thank-you all for the kind words and for sending us good vibes. As you can see it's 3:38am and I haven't slept a wink. I'm so nervous I feel like I'm going to die myself haha. He's just laying there purring away, but I'm about to pull my hair out. I hope he doesn't think his dad's a big wuss who just sits there and cries all night haha.

Anticipation is the worst part and I keep thinking about all the worse case diagnosis and it's got me beside myself. Nothing left to do now except wait until the office opens and I can bring his Ray Charles butt down there. I'll check back here 1st thing.

Thanks again everyone we both really appreciate your contributions. Cooper says "hi and thank-you." Sampson says, "my big brother is tough as nails and a little retinal detachment isn't going to mess him up too bad." Maybe I should listen to Sampson who is far more sane than I am at the moment.
post #16 of 96
Another important point to be aware of....

Although you perceive that Cooper's behavior seems normal...
as a survival mechanism, cats tend to hide pain and illnesses so that they are not obvious pray to larger predators.
That is one of the reasons why it is critical to Cooper's comfort and survival that he is seen, diagnosed and treated right away.

post #17 of 96
Usually they do tend to hide or get irritable, though... It's a good sign he isn't doing those things.
post #18 of 96
my rb cat daisy lived happily with her blindness for about a year. i hope cooper doesn't lose his sight but it is by no means the end of the world if he does.

sending lots of healing for cooper.
post #19 of 96
Just checking in. Was your vet able to fit you in? I had to take Chynna on Saturday. I didn't have an appointment and they were fully booked but said I could go in and wait and see if they could fit me in. I went first thing in the morning after I hung up from them and managed to get in about 10 or 15 minutes after I arrived.
post #20 of 96
I just saw this post. How old is your baby? That same thing happend to Smokey due to CRF. Her retena's had detached, but the good thing was that within 48 hours of being on a hypertensive medicine, she began to be able to see again. I'm not sure her eye sight was ever the same, but she could see well enough to jump into the bed. She lived another 2 years, and never lost her sight again.

Don't worry about being upset. I remember having to leave work early the day of her appointment because I couldn't focus & kept having to go into the bathroom to collect myself. Then as soon as they asked what was wrong with her, I burst into tears.
post #21 of 96
Thread Starter 
Well I just got back from the vet and I can say without hesitation that she was terrible. I feel like after only 3 days of internet research I knew more than she did. She also seemed aloof and didn't care at all. She didn't help much.

I guess they did a blood pressure test that came back normal, and then took some blood for screening that will be back Wednesday morning. I insisted they do a thyroid level. I had so much I wanted to talk about and a huge list, but didn't feel like it would do much good with this dingbat. She also said that Cooper's blindness was permanent, but also admitted it was retinal detachment. I guess I don't know how she could just assess that his blindness is permanent when she couldn't even diagnose what was wrong with him. I am now even more upset than before and feel helpless as Cooper's retina detachment just goes untreated longer and longer.

Within the 1st couple minutes I had the vet pegged as a phony. I asked her about the raw fed diet and she said it wasn't good because of salmonella and ecoli! I thought cats couldn't get food poisoning! The bottom line is that I feel shafted and that Cooper isn't getting near the level of care required to bring his eye site back and assure his longevity.

I guess I'll wait until the bloodwork comes back on Wednesday, but honestly I want a second opinion. The vet I took them to is on the lower range as far as cost goes, so maybe I'll bring him to the most downright expensive vet around in hopes they have a darn clue about what they're talking about! Thanks for the vibes everyone, but it looks like they're only working for Cooper who is as happy as can be.
post #22 of 96
Thread Starter 
Cooper and Sampson have just turned 6 btw (twins).
post #23 of 96
Find another vet for a 2nd opinion is my next suggestion. The one you went to just isn't worth the waste of $$. I learned the hard way to find a new vet.
post #24 of 96
Perhaps someone here will be able to recommend a vet in your area of WA.
At least you have the blood work coming back and that will be useful information to take with you if you do get a second opinion (and frankly I wouldn't stay with a vet that won't really talk with me about my cat).
post #25 of 96
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies folks. I have gone with my gut feeling and the advice of others on this forum and decided to ditch my current vet and go for the best care around. I called a few places and finally was referred to a feline ophthalmologist in my area. While I'm aware there is an underlying issue as to why he lost his sight; I also want to try my hardest to get his vision back, even just a little. I have an appointment tomorrow at 2:30 and this doctor only does feline eyes, so I have high hopes. I told the receptionist at the new place about my experience with my current vet and she was alarmed out how little info and concern I was offered. Let's hope this works! Any vibes you all can spare are much appreciated. Thank-you.
post #26 of 96
Many, many that the ophthalmologist can help your baby....or give you a better idea of what's going on!!
post #27 of 96
I hope everything goes well.
post #28 of 96
I would like to offer a little hope for you if Cooper ends up with a diagnosis of retinal detatchment due to hypertension, secondary to renal failure. My Cleo was diagnosed with renal failure at 6 months old, when my vet did pre-op bloodwork for her spay surgery. She told me that Cleo's life expectancy was approximately 5 years. Cleo will turn 8 in May. I have been treating her renal failure very aggressively, and she is positively thriving. My vet is an absolute Angel. She works with me to provide the highest standard of care available. She jokes that Cleo is getting Veterinary School care, in the Middle-of-no-where Michigan. Renal failure is eventually fatal, but with aggressive treatment, you may be able to enjoy many years with your sweet baby! Good luck!
post #29 of 96
Lots of good vibes going out to both you and Cooper!

I just had a health scare with Chynna, my 15 year old. It's heart wrenching when they get sick because they can't tell you what they are feeling or understand what is going on at that strange place we take them too.
post #30 of 96
the opthamalogist might be able to suggest a feline specialist GP you could take him to for his other issues, as well. sounds like they know what good care is!
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