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Vet story

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi. I'm new to this board. I live in New York City. I have had a pretty awful vet (and pet) experience in the past two weeks, and thought someone would know what to do, would have words of encouragement.. etc. Thanks in advance. It's somewhat long...This is taken directly from a letter I sent to my mom, so bear with me. My cat is a 6-year-old female garden variety mutt with the sweetest temperament you could ever ask for. She'd pretty much collapsed after three or four days of really violent sneezing. Nesting, not eating, not going to box, etc. We brought her in and the vet told us after X-rays that she had a TON of bladder stones. This had nothing to do with the sneezing whatsoever, but he pointed out that there was indeed a line of stones marching down her urethra from her bladder. It was a pretty incredible x-ray photo. They looked like they'd been made in a factory or something, a line of them marching all the way down. We thought we might as well get them taken care of, since she was more than likely in INCREDIBLE pain, as anyone who's had stones can attest. From there, things just got... (letter starts here)

.. Bad bad bad. So, she (my cat) was doing GREAT when she got home from surgery. UNTIL.... She appeared to be straining to defecate. Vet told us to bring her back in.
{A little background: The place we take the two cats is a clinic run by two vets. They alternate days off and on duty. The Guy (G.) is venerated amongst the New York media as being one of the better vets in the city. The other is a Lady (L.) who did the surgery and has a little less of a reputation. I trust the hell out of L. Whenever I meet or talk with G., however, I get this heavy gut feeling of distrust. I trust my gut. It's not steered me wrong on character judgements before. I don't know why, but he just struck me as being down for the cash, and as having a little bit of a God-complex.
Nicole (my wife) told me I was being paranoid and a little prejudiced, so I took my feeling with a grain of salt.
As I said, the cat was straining at the box, so we called the vet, who turned out to be G. that day. He told us to bring her in. Remember, she was JUST CONSTIPATED at this point. We took her in, where she got 3 (THREE!!) enemas all told before she managed to let go of her package. When we got there to take her home, G. had disappeared, leaving us with no information about what had happened. The staff on duty had no idea if she was supposed to be taking a new antibiotic (which she was). They actually had to call G. and ask him what was going on with our cat. So we got what we needed, filled the prescription and went home with our animal.
We got home, and I noticed the cat was really messed up. She had a pronounced tremor, was stepping gingerly around, looking like she'd just been punked with a refrigerator.
We chalked it up to the fact that she'd basically just had the equivalent of an alien abduction, complete with anal probes, and let her rest.
Over the course of the next 5 days, the cat did not act nearly as perky as she did the night she came home from the original surgery. In fact, she showed absolutely NO proclivity towards healing. She was not acting like a cat on the mend. She was acting like a cat just holding on. No grooming, no real eating (I had to feed her baby food by spoon), no vocalizations, no real movement, no nothing that cats do when they're OK. End of the week, she'd stopped everything. Wouldn't even drink water. I had to get a turkey-baster style syringe, grab her and force a squirt down her gullet every two hours. I held a glass of water in front of her nose, but she would just turn away. We called the vet when she went to the dresser in the bedroom and hunkered down underneath it. I was under the impression that this sort of behavior usually means the animal has given up and gone to a quiet, dark place to expire. We grabbed her and took her back to the vet, where G. was on duty.
Some time during this, I started getting a baaad feeling about the outcome of things. The animal had been cut open, reamed out, and visited with a few other offenses that she'd never had to contend with before in her life, and was now on her way back for more. To me, the odds against recovery were piling up exponentially. I voiced my concerns and was promptly shouted down by those closest to me as pessimism.
So back she went. G. took her and kept her for about 6 hours, sending us home. We'd told him about the possible dehydration, the lack of eating, toilet, grooming, etc. He called back, telling us that everything showed up normally, and that he'd ordered some blood work done on her, and that (here I begin to get murderously angry) she showed NO DEHYDRATION. I asked him how she couldn't be dehydrated when she wasn't drinking farging WATER, man? He replied that somehow I had MISSED her trips to the water bowl. That she'd slipped under my nose somehow and quenched her thirst while I had diddled myself obliviously. He had us come and get her. We brought her home, where she acted very happy to be home, and then promptly slipped back into her funk. She was also sneezing violently; huge, wet contractions that looked painful as hell and didn't appear to offer relief from whatever was bothering her nose.
The sneezing had been an on-again-off-again thing between her and her sister for a week or so. We thought it was some kind of allergy, environmentally caused, so Nicole compulsively cleaned the apartment, getting every speck of dirt she could find, looking for mold, looking for rat-droppings, ANYTHING. She was meticulous. We also knocked out new soaps, shampoo, foods, etc.; trying to eliminate all new introductions into the apartment. No dice. We are going to move as soon as possible now.
The next day, L. calls us and tells us to bring her back in, that SHE'D like a look at the cat herself. We were blown away that she wasn't briefed by her partner. She was actually looking at the notes as she talked to me, so she was not up on what was going on.
That's it so far. We don't know what's going to happen. L. called us and told us that our cat was "unravelling." Also "I'm worried" and the classic "I'm going to do whatever I can to get to the bottom of this," as well as "She's such a sweet-tempered cat. SHE DOESN'T DESERVE THIS." Yeah. I'm with you there, baby. I'm now pretty convinced that things are well past iffy. When we talk with the vet next, I'm asking about chances. If they look bad, I'm requesting painkillers and bringing the cat home so that she'll be comfortable and not in alien and hostile surroundings. Also, and I hate mentioning this, there is the bill for all this. I've called the cutoff for what's enough to spend, and we're just about there. Again, if we reach that point, I'm getting kitty morphine and taking the cat home.

I'm convinced that the enemas she got somehow blew her immune system down completely, or even ruptured her bowel, opening her up to internal bleeding. We'll see. I should keep a positive attitude, I guess. When you distrust the doctor, it's pretty hard to keep a full-glass mentality.
post #2 of 28
Hello, and welcome to TCS.

Since your post is health related, I am going to move this for you to the health and nutrition forum.
post #3 of 28
Wow Mirror! That poor kitty sounds like she has been through the wringer and then some. If she was indeed bleeding internally- the blood work would of shown a drop of significant nature.

My concern would be that they missed a stone, perhaps it was high or tucked inside something and they missed it causing the cat to strain while trying to pee.

Stress is indeed a contributing factor to cats being ill, and if she was subjected (and it sounds like she was) to undue amounts of stress, this can retard her immune system and make her unable to kick any infection she might have going on.

If it were me, I would be hot-footing it to another vet in your area and getting a second opinion.

You can easily check for dehydration, by gently scruffing the neck or back and pinching lightly, then release. On hydrated cats, the scruff goes back to normal in under 2 seconds. Anything longer your cat needs fluids. I would recommend you get a bottle of pedialyte and put some of that into wet food, making a gruel so the cat will get the moisture that way. Shooting water down the gullet with a turkey baster, could be a very bad deal, as you could accidently flood her lungs.

Best of luck with this wonderful garden variety female, and welcome to the boards.
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
... I may have exaggerated slightly about the turkey baster. It was actually one of those antibiotic syringes they give you to administer with, and rather than "shooting" it down, we were giving her small squirts. Duly noted, though. I won't force-feed her anymore water. Also, thanks much for insight into blood-work showing possible bleeders inside. Put me at ease considerably. I was absolutely positive that that was what'd happened, and that they were for obvious reasons not telling us.
It's just so terrible to have a sick animal. One feels so incredibly helpless.
She's actually now at the vet, being given an IV and (I believe)forced foods. It looks pretty bad. I went to visit her tonight, and she could barely stand up to see me. She was vocalizing slightly, but looked frighteningly grim, bedraggled. Not herself at all... The guy on call said that they'd mentioned something to him about "bartonella?" Also, they'd said that her lymphocyte count (?) was apparently low. I know that in humans that usually means a thyroid problem, or possibly some kind of cancerous condition..
post #5 of 28
wow, i dont know what to say, but i would go to a different vet right off and explaine the situation. If you dont like your vet its not doing any good towards the communitcation a person needs with their doctor, to say the least.
post #6 of 28
Bartonella is becoming quite common in cats recently. It is a bacterial infection introduced by the bite of either fleas, sand flies or other small parasites. She should be having elevated temp, and an increased desire for water, so sub cu fluids (which is what they are giving her I assume) is the ticket.

If her electroylytes are out of balance, she will be also and the fluids will help replenish her.

I will put her on my prayer list- what is her name?
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
... Although it is only one of the doctors I have the trouble with. It's not so much that I doubt his qualifications or expertise, it's more just a gut feeling. His partner is great, though, and if I had a friend with a bad pet problem, I would send them straight to her. It's just a shame they have open-marriage arrangements with the patients, rather than sticking with one for one... I'd rather have to deal with one doctor only.
post #8 of 28
Bartonella is a blood parasite that destroys red blood cells. And can make a kitty very anemic and weak. A lymphocyte is a white blood cell that kills germs,viruses and parasites. Try doing a web search . May be some one here who knows how will post a link for you. It sound like your poor kitty has been through the wringer. I hope she gets better soon.
post #9 of 28
Whoever she is closest to- you can have that person put on an old sweatshirt or tee shirt and do the workout of a lifetime. Make that shirt wringing wet, then stick in if a ziploc bag and run up the vet, turn it inside out and leave it in her cage. She will snuggle down into the scent and be comforted and not quite so scared and stressed. She will probably pee on it too, as that will also bring her comfort, so make sure it is a shirt you don't care that much about.

Best of luck with her- she is lucky to have the two of you in her life! I will hold all my hope out for her to get better-
post #10 of 28
Listen to those gut feelings! Any time I've ignored mine trouble came my way.
I hope your cat recovers from this.
Our vet strongly feels that a cats survival rate is higher when they're with their people. The idea about getting something with your scent on it and leaving it with her is a good idea. Then she may feel like she's home a little more.
When our cat had distemper as a young kitten, we never left her overnight. I took her in for sub q fluids for 10 days straight and she encountered some problems along the way that I was able to resolve with alternative meds. She had a lot of lap time at home and pulled out of it in 2 weeks.
If your vets are only keeping your cat there for fluids, you could request sub q fluids and take her home if you're comfortalbe with that. I wasn't, but my gut feeling was that it was the best for our situation. We had a lot of ups and downs along the way.
I wish you the best and I agree with the others who said to seek another opinion.
post #11 of 28
Mirror, I thought of your kitty often last night, how is she doing?
post #12 of 28
Mirror - I am so sorry to hear what you and your kitty have gone through. I hope that she is doing better today. I will keep her in my thoughts. Please let us know.

I live in Northeast Pa, and there aren't a whole lot of good vets around. The one I go to is ok, but they have a habit of not talking to me (and my friend when I go with her to the vet). It can be very frustrating. You know your babies better than anyone, and for someone to tell you that everything will be fine, when you know something is wrong, dear god, I could slap people.

I thought it was just my area, bad docs and bad vets. Gotta leave the area for good medical care. That is why I am so thankful to this board...I am armed with information before I even go to the vet. They hate it, but at least I know what questions to ask.
post #13 of 28
Wow, what a nightmare. How is your cat now? I wish you all a lot of luck.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well.. Anyone know if this bartonella would cause sneezing? We went to visit her last night. The guy on duty, who we really trust(even tho he's just an orderly, not in vet training even), told us she was on forced foods and liquids. He said she wasn't eating on her own, nor drinking. We brought some baby food with us, which she ate a little of for us. I didn't find out if she was able to keep it down. Apparently she'd yarked a little before we showed up.
I'm really bummed out today. We're waiting for the vet to call now. I'm pretty much to the point of forgoing whatever she tells us, requesting painkillers for the cat, getting the liquids suggested by the replies on this board, bringing her home, and we'll see what happens.
I figure they've probably got enough blood and x-rays to tell what they can through tests. Basically the only reason I would keep her there is to keep her clear of whatever is making them sneeze at our place. Since that's now kind of side-issue, I just want her home with surroundings and people she knows and loves.
If I was as screwed up as she is, I'd request a ton of painkillers and that my family took me out of the hospital and got me home so I'd at least be comfortable.
I really HATE feeling like this. Totally helpless. Knowing my cat is in pain or major discomfort, uncomprehending of what's going on around or inside of her. We'll probably will know more in a few hours... I am getting the impression tho that things are just plain grim... This sucks. Thanks for all your info, though. Feels better to have it out than raging at my wife, who's just as helpless and pissed-off as I am..
post #15 of 28
Hi mirror, how is your baby doing? I have one thing Iwanted to suggest: if you want a simple, honest update on how your kitty is doing, continue to ask the 'orderly' guy. I work in a cat hospital, and I can tell you that the 'vet assistant's or 'kennel staff' generally are the ones spending the most time with your cat. We are the ones who are cleaning, feeding, giving fluids, meds, etc. to the animals,(under supervision of the vets of course) and thus the ones who generally get to know the pets the best. So, chances are if you get to keep talking to the guy handling the pets, he'll give you an honest update, and in simple everyday language.
Hope this helps!
post #16 of 28
That poor cat has been through a horrid experiance...(but u already know that)...don't give up hope and do all u can for it to keep it alive...don't let the vets talk u into anything....I wonder if people can sue vets for man-handling.....you deserve reinbersement for all the vet bills since that vet has been causing you added expenses...I wish you all the luck possible and never forget we are all here for you....
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
... Now, we went yesterday and talked with the vet we trust. She told us that the cat was NOWHERE near the point of us taking her home to die. This was a slight relief, although looking at the cat you could never tell. She was wiped out, tho a little more vocal than the day before, and she got up to see me. they'd told me she was still not eating or drinking on her own. I'd brought more baby food and gave her a little on a spoon, but at that moment, someone's damn DOG ran in front of me and started eating the food!! Our cat slunk back inside the cage and wouldn't come out again to eat. I was REALLY pissed at the dog. I would've cheerfully strangled it right then and there if there hadn't been anyone else around. Always funny how a family member's life takes total priority over anyone else's...

Anyway, the vet told us that she was keeping our cat over for another two days so that she could get an ultrasound done. We'd looked at all these chest x-rays, and the vet (and I) was pretty convinced that the cat's lungs were totally stuffed with liquid. Vet said that it might be some kind of pneumonia. Switched antibiotics AGAIN (happened 3 times now), and will be taking ultrasound tomorrow. If all goes well-ish, she should be back home tomorrow afternoon.
I took a replier's advice and jogged around in an already dirty t-shirt before we went. The cat had originally been sleeping in the box in her cage, which was just awful. When she saw or smelled the shirt being put down on the floor of the cage, she jumped out of the box and plumped right down on it. So, thanks a lot, whoever made that recommendation. It really helped.
I sure hope isn't pneumonia, but I was beginning to think that the cat may have just given up the fight out of pure despondency (sp? -ancy?), and was just fading away, that she'd just had so much abuse in such a short time, and had called the whole thing off. I hope she doesn't think we've abandoned her. This is the longest she's ever been out of the house.
Well, we'll go back tonight and feed her some more. I'll take a new, funkier shirt along with us. Thanks for all your help!
post #18 of 28
Hi Mirror.
It's good to hear that your kitty is doing better than you thought. I hope the new antibiotics help and that the ultrasound comes back with no problems. I've been keeping your little girl in my thoughts... I hope she gets better so she can go home with you soon.
post #19 of 28
Hi Mirror,

Glad to hear my tip helped. I have done this so many times for sickly cats in vet cages that it is just a matter of routine anymore. Another thing I insist on my vet doing when my cats are in his care, is to cover their cage with a dark cloth, leaving (of course) room to breathe for them. But it really helps them to calm down and de-stress. The vet wasn't to happy about the request, because it stops the tech from just "glancing" in to check on the cat, but I told the vet, if my cat is to sick to be home, I want him more than just "glanced" at! LOL That worked, and it seems to help the cat recover quicker.

The fluids in the chest can be tapped and drained to provide relief, I wonder why they aren't doing that? She is sneezing because of the accumulation of fluids backing up her system....sigh...poor kitty. She is still in my prayers- as are you and your wife.
post #20 of 28
Originally posted by Mirror
I really HATE feeling like this. Totally helpless. Knowing my cat is in pain or major discomfort, uncomprehending of what's going on around or inside of her. We'll probably will know more in a few hours...
Many of us have been in your shoes, and it's torture! You and your cat have been through so much, but keep positive and informed. I'm glad that you were able to find this site to vent your frustrations and receive advice.

Know that many people have you in their thoughts. I wish I could offer you more!!
post #21 of 28
Mirror, I feel so badly for your cat and you. We had to have our 6 yr. old baby put to sleep in early February. This was after 6 wks. of trying to make him better. And he WAS better, only to have some horrible infection do him in. They kept telling us near the end that everything was probably fine, even after I kept calling there and telling them all these weird things he was doing. (of course as it turned out he WASN'T fine) I guess trust your instincts. I hope things will go better for you. It so hard to see little, trusting animals when they're sick.
post #22 of 28
I hope your baby gets better! I'll keep her in my prayers. You would think that people who go into the vet business would do so because they really care about animals. It's sad when you find someone with other priorities. Trust your instincts.
post #23 of 28
Hi again, Mirror. I can really understand why you are upset - I've been through the same thing (with a dog, rather than a cat), and things did work out fine. I sure hope the ultrasound doesn't reveal pneumonia or heart trouble (though the latter is sometimes easier to treat), and that the antibiotics help. The cat might actually be fretting less than you think, since if she's really sick she probably sleeps or dozes most of the day - I don't think the animals are much different from us, and as bad as a hospital stay is, at least it's boring and you're forced to rest up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her.
post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 
...She came home last night. Her name, by the way, is Akasha. (we were reading Anne Rice at the time. It was the '90's, dammit. Sue us.) She truly has been the queen of the damned these last few weeks.. >:}
Anyway, the ultrasound didn't show anything. No heart or lung problems. The vet said there wasn't any major liver changes from her period of fasting. All looks good. She's up and around, grooming (sort of), vocalizing, running out to the hall to explore, and is REALLY hungry. She'd lost 2 1/2 pounds in about 2 weeks time. I'm actually glad now that she was sort of a fatty beforehand. They gave us a TON of medicine to give her. Nutritional supplements, vitamins, more antibiotics, anti-nausea pills... The whole vet medicine cabinet, looks like.
All in all, I can't complain... Yet. The vet bill is AMAZING. I'm pretty sure that if anything had happened to her I'd have stiffed the vets, so they're REAL lucky.
Only problem seems to be that the damn sneezing is coming back slightly. I don't know WHAT IT IS. It's driving me farging crazy. We've scoured the place. All I can think of is that it is something outside. Some irritant that's being released outside the building. Makes me totally paranoid, because my nose kinda hurts, too. My wife has been complaining of nose trouble all night. Hard to live in New York and NOT feel paranoid, I guess.
I guess if it presents itself as badly as it did before, we are going to run the cat up to my mother-in-law's place and just wait til Akasha gets more fortified against whatever is going on here. Her sister WAS sneezing for a bit, but she seems to have beaten whatever it is down. I think A. probably had NO immune system to speak of, so she was bulldozed by whatever wanted to infect her...
Only other thing that bothers me is that she is REALLY favoring her rear legs now. She can barely jump up onto the couch, acts like she's going to trip a lot... Anyone know if the back legs are stretched out hard during operations and procedures? That might explain it: A pulled tendon or muscle... I guess we'll see what happens.
At any rate, I wanted to thank all you wonderful people who made suggestions or just offered a nice word. It was a great help to me, my wife, AND my cat. Muchos grassy-ass!!
perhaps I'll post a pic later.
post #25 of 28
Hi Mirror I'm so happy your baby is home with you again! Yay!!! And maybe you'll post a picture?? MAYBE??? Show us the kitty pictures! :tounge2:
post #26 of 28
Appreciate the update Mirror! It's really weird about the sneezing issue. Hope you can resolve that!

post #27 of 28
Hi, Mirror. I'm glad Akasha is home and doing better. I wonder if you, your wife and cats have hay fever? Some years certain types of pollen are worse than others.
post #28 of 28
I'm happy for you that you got her back! It sounds like she's doing better.

And yes, sometimes they do stretch the legs during surgery. I worked at a vet for quite awhile, and we always tied the animals down once they were asleep before we operated. (That's because sometimes they twitch, just like during normal sleep, and you don't want them to move or fall off the table.) That by itself shouldn't cause a lot of pain, though, if that's it she should be fine in a couple days.

Plus, depending upon how they operated, they may have had to push her legs apart a little in order to be able to access all of the bladder stones to take them out. Hope she feels better soon!
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