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Help - Mystery Illness

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm posting for some insight on my cat Bobsey's illness. She is a cat I adopted about 8 years ago and we think she is roughly 9 years old. Bobsey stayed with my mom when I moved out and is a great companion to her now. Recently we noticed she was not eating/drinking as much and then Sunday she seemed to be breathing harder than normal. My mom took her to the vet on Monday and she definitely had pleural efffusion (fluid was around the lungs and heart). They drew blood, did x-rays, and an ultrasound. So far they've said her heart looks great and they didn't see any masses/tumors to indicate cancer. Also, they didn't see any signs of infection or bacteria in the fluid. They did say the skin of the sack that holds the heart and lungs was thicker than normal, but weren't sure why. They sent the fluid to a lab and the only additional thing that resulted in was some cells in the fluid were sticking together. I'm getting this information secondhand and I'm still unclear as to what that may mean.

Anyways, they have not yet been able to get a urine sample and her kidney levels were slightly elevated according to the blood test. The vet said that those levels could be higher because she was dehydrated or because of kidney disease. However, she isn't displaying some of the other common signs of kidney disease.

Right now she is at home, they gave her appetite enhancers so we did get her to eat and drink some last night and again today. Her urine output seems to be appropriate for the amount she is drinking, and we are taking her back tomorrow to see if they can get a urine sample. They drained the fluid, but it is building up again, so there is something definitely going on, they just can't seem to figure out what. Any insight out there??
post #2 of 29
Having experienced this firsthand, I have some sense of the frustration and worry you're feeling.

Do you know whether/not Bobsey has ever been tested for FeLV/FIV? If not, I would suggest that you have the testing done. It's simple and provides a very fast result.

This article should give you some insight.

It appears that your Vet is actively pursuing the cause...remember, your Vet will take cues from your attitude as to how far to go toward a diagnosis. This kind of case can be taxing on the Vet's resources, so, to the degree that your "proactivity" is demonstrated, that will largely determine just how far down the diagnostic road the Vet will travel.
post #3 of 29
Two additional points I thought of....

Time is one of the most important assets you'll need in order to take the diagnostic process as far as you decide to go.

So, know that you may need to drain the fluid periodically and, to the best of my knowledge, this is doable.

Second, and, please do not take from this that I am questioning your Vet's competency/skills/etc....I am NOT. If I were in your shoes today (if I had it to do all over again), I would do some homework of my own toward finding other competent Veterinary resources near where I live. I would find out if there is a Veterinary College within my means of travel. I would look to see where around me are are located feline specialists - this site could help, perhaps (ignore any references to CRF - that's immaterial, you're looking for competency in internal medecine)

I'm suggesting you do that homework now because it may prove to be helpful down the road and, if things get critical later you'll already be prepared with other options.
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLAISE View Post
Having experienced this firsthand, I have some sense of the frustration and worry you're feeling.

Do you know whether/not Bobsey has ever been tested for FeLV/FIV? If not, I would suggest that you have the testing done. It's simple and provides a very fast result.

This article should give you some insight.

It appears that your Vet is actively pursuing the cause...remember, your Vet will take cues from your attitude as to how far to go toward a diagnosis. This kind of case can be taxing on the Vet's resources, so, to the degree that your "proactivity" is demonstrated, that will largely determine just how far down the diagnostic road the Vet will travel.

Blaise thanks for your help! Just wanted to mention they did test her for both of these things and they were negative.

I'll update tomorrow after her appointment, but again, thanks for you thoughts!!
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quick (somewhat) update...

Fortunately, our vet has ruled out a number of things (heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, feline lukemia, feline hiv, respiratory diease), unforntunately we still have no diagnosis.

Currently, Bobsey is on steroids and antibiotics, which have really perked her up and she has been eating/drinking much better over the last couple of days. They did find some inflammation cells in the fluid, hence the steroids, so we're hoping that the medicine will bring something to light. If not, the next step will be to biopsy the thickened skin around the pleural sack, which is the only other thing that the dr. has been able to see out of the ordinary.

Please keep us in your thoughts as we continue our journey to get a diagnosis.
post #6 of 29
It's soooooo great to learn that "no news" was, in fact, great news!

It's also so very heartening to see you and your Veterinarian working proactively to find the root of the problem. We need to hear these inspiring stories, so that we know what's possible when the mindset is positive.

Far too often, when the professionals are "stumped", mindsets become fatalistic and then we find ourselves with a one-way-ticket to.....
post #7 of 29
This website may be able to give you some answers

http://www.cathelp-online.com/

I also contacted the owner of the above website and directed her to your post- here is her advice, and frankly, I would take it to heart. Trace has saved my kitties' butts so many times in the past when the vets out here didn't have a clue-

Her vet needs to be referring her to someone more experienced. He may have done the common first-line diagnostics, but it isn't enough, kitty needs xrays and an ultrasound, potential blood culture and the bloodwork needs to be repeated every few days to monitor anemia, as well as protein content, that urinalysis needs to be done TODAY. Owner can't mess around with this, an undiagnosed case of plueral effusion is a HIGH RISK, the underlying cause must be identified IMMEDIATELY, a specialist TODAY will be more beneficial than her vet's current approach and taking a wait-and-see approach (not good!)

Good luck with your kitty-
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy View Post
This website may be able to give you some answers

http://www.cathelp-online.com/

I also contacted the owner of the above website and directed her to your post- here is her advice, and frankly, I would take it to heart. Trace has saved my kitties' butts so many times in the past when the vets out here didn't have a clue-

Her vet needs to be referring her to someone more experienced. He may have done the common first-line diagnostics, but it isn't enough, kitty needs xrays and an ultrasound, potential blood culture and the bloodwork needs to be repeated every few days to monitor anemia, as well as protein content, that urinalysis needs to be done TODAY. Owner can't mess around with this, an undiagnosed case of plueral effusion is a HIGH RISK, the underlying cause must be identified IMMEDIATELY, a specialist TODAY will be more beneficial than her vet's current approach and taking a wait-and-see approach (not good!)

Good luck with your kitty-
Hissy, thanks for the advice and concern. I've been PMing Blaise, so I should've paid more attention to what I had put here vs. what we've been PMing. The vet actually has done four xrays and two ultrasounds to rule out heart disease, heart worms, tumors, etc. She's done two blood cultures and cultured the fluid twice, as well as a urinalysis. As of today her protein count looked great and they still couldn't get anything out of the cultured fluid. I'm definitely not brushing off the advice, I have no qualms about going elsewhere for treatment, however, at this point I feel like the vet is doing great and trying everything we can. I've been doing a lot of research too and fortunately she always seems to be a couple of steps ahead of me in tesing this and that.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
One thing I forgot to mention here is her purring changed when all of this came about. It started sounding just like a dove's cooing, not wet or gurgly, but somewhat squeaky. I've tried to find some information, but so far no luck. Any ideas if this could be a clue?
post #10 of 29
Poor Bobsey sure has been through a lot! Sending lots of get well vibes her way. Hope you get a diagnoses and can start the appropriate treatment real soon.
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks Stormy for your kind thoughts!

A small update, I took her back to the vet today because she again didn't want to eat much and they have kept her to do a few things...

They did another full blood work up and her white blood cells are low, although she is on steroids and they warned us that the medicine could do that. They drained more fluid again, but apparently this time is was fairly bloody, which is a huge concern. The dr. said her red blood count was low too, and they are doing a smear to check if her bone marrow is producing new blood cells. They are keeping her for now, probably until 6:00 or so today, but the dr. said right now it wasn't looking too good for her. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts as we go through this trying time.
post #12 of 29
Prayers for her.
post #13 of 29
Poor Bobsey - I hope she is ok!
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to let everyone know that Bobsey passed on to kitty heaven tonight at home with my mom and I. Thanks again for all the help and support.
post #15 of 29
So sorry about your Cat.
post #16 of 29
sorry to hear that Bobsey lost her fight w/her mystery illness... & for you & yours during this time of mourning...
post #17 of 29
I am so very sorry about Bobsey
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your thoughts everyone. I wish I could say that we finally knew what was wrong, but I can't. I do know that I'm glad she was at home when it happened and that we didn't have to make the decision. Thanks again for reading and the support everyone has shown.
post #19 of 29
I am so sorry to hear this! It sounded like FIP possibly to me, although she really wasn't in the age range that it usually happens.
post #20 of 29
I too am so sorry to hear about Bobsey....yes, it is somewhat comforting to be with them when they pass on.....they are so special to us. I hope you are comforted by knowing that you did your best and she knew that. My condolences to you and your Mom.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kluchetta View Post
I am so sorry to hear this! It sounded like FIP possibly to me, although she really wasn't in the age range that it usually happens.

We did talk about this, our vet also brought in a specialist from another office to look at her on Friday and he thought it may be toxoplasmosis. They had given us the antibiotics to treat her for that and we were going to wean her off the steroids. He knew it may be a long shot since she was in a one cat household and didn't go outside. But after looking at her chart and everything they'd done he said that there was nothing more he knew to do either.

Her liver levels were up on Friday (for the first time in all of her blood work) and he did suggest a liver aspiration which we had scheduled for Monday, but I guess we'll just never know.
post #22 of 29
I am so sorry to hear Bobsey is gone.

RIP sweet angel
post #23 of 29
Dinah, I am so sorry you lost her. It sounds like you indeed had qualified help and advice throughout the process. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, they just don't make it. Did they do a necropsy by chance?
post #24 of 29
Oh I am so so so sorry. I commend you for really putting all you had into saving her. You did everything you could possibly do. But sometimes such matters are beyond our control. My baby boy will be the first to ask for a play in Kitty heaven.
post #25 of 29
I'm so sorry for your loss.
post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy View Post
Dinah, I am so sorry you lost her. It sounds like you indeed had qualified help and advice throughout the process. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, they just don't make it. Did they do a necropsy by chance?

We actually thought really hard about this, just so we could know exactly what happened. But in the end, we just wanted to leave her to rest in peace, she had just been through so much. My husband actually just made her a little coffin and we buried her in my mom's backyard along with our other two cats and pet bird.
post #27 of 29
I am so sorry.
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by DinahGen View Post
We actually thought really hard about this, just so we could know exactly what happened. But in the end, we just wanted to leave her to rest in peace, she had just been through so much. My husband actually just made her a little coffin and we buried her in my mom's backyard along with our other two cats and pet bird.
i'm so sorry about bobsey.

i lost my boy last october to an undiagnosed illness, but the vet (and the information i found on this site) lead us to believe it was FIP. very quick and very aggressive. he was 13 years old.

we did the same as you and buried him in the back garden with 2 of my other cats.

it's so hard losing them and you must take comfort from the obvious love and friendship you shared.

RIP little one.
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