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Help with medical mystery

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My parent's cat, Stray, has been "off" since Friday. Basically, he can't walk any amount of distance. His head wobbles and his legs collapse and he walks crooked.
They took him to the vet and had extensive blood work done, and $900 later everything comes back normal and clear. He has no toxins in his liver, so he didn't get into any kind of poison. All of his organs come back very healthy. There are no broken bones or sprains, no signs of concussion. He is eating, he's drinking, he's using the washroom. He has progressed to the point where he can walk about 10 steps now before he falls over, but has been like that since Sunday with no further improvement. It is almost as though he is drunk.
The vets have no idea what is wrong but say that if he's not better in a few days that they should do the humane thing and euthanize him. I just don't get it, but I won't let them put down a cat who is perfectly healthy.
What could possibly be wrong?? Any ideas? I am thinking about seeing if my chiropractor will have a look at him, but beyond that, I've no clue whatelse to do. The vet is not being much help, either.
post #2 of 11
Do you have either a feline specialist or a vet school anywhere near you? I think you need a second opinion asap. To me this sounds like a possible neurological problem, but you need a proper diagnosis to figure out what to do next. Depending on what it is, there can be a lot of options to consider - I was just reading in either the last Tufts or Cornell newsletter about brain tumors in cats, and how dramatically cats can respond to surgery. Who'd have thought? But certainly not every vet can do that sort of surgery, or even is a skilled diagnostician - just like MD's.

Bless you and your parents for caring so much - I hope you can get a clearer diagnosis to base your decisions on.
post #3 of 11
Two things come to mind. First is some sort of inner ear problem. I hope that the vet at least took a look in his ears. Second, I have a question for you. How old is the house your parents live in? I read somewhere that cats with lead poisoning can have nerological problems. I also read that vets don't always think about it because lead has been gone from paint for so long. I agree a second opinon is in order before making such a difficult decision.
post #4 of 11
My first thought would be an inner ear problem, like Rang_27 said. If your vet didn't swab Stray's ears, it would probably be a good idea to have that done. I really hope that is what the problem is!

Did they check the pulses in the hind legs? Cardiomyopathy or blood clots can cause hind leg weakness/paralysis. From my understanding, this would be accompanied by a weak pulse in those hind legs.

Otherwise, it could be a neurological problem. The only way to really diagnosis this would be to have an MRI done.

My Zoey "lost her legs" when she was sick. Although the vets said FIP, I do not accept his diagnosis and still say that the cause of her problems are unknown. She, unlike Stray, was not eating or drinking. It was also discovered that she had a broken tail. In any regard, all of her blood work, except for her white blood cell count (which was astronomically high) came back normal. She was put on antibiotics (clavomax - a wide spectrum antibiotic) and got better. When she ran out of the antibiotic and the vet wanted to try her without, she soon started to lose her balance again. She was put to sleep a couple days later, when it was clear that she was not going to be able to hang in there long enough for the new antibiotics to kick in. Perhaps they could try an antibiotic? She was on Amoxil prior to Clavomax, and it didn't seem to do anything.

Tail injuries can cause rear leg weakness. We have no idea how Zoey (indoor kitten, came from a shelter before we got her a few months earlier) broke her tail, and the vet missed it looking at the x-rays the first time around....we didn't find it until she started getting very agitated at even the slightest graze of her tail.

Has Stray been defacating as normal? Sounds strange, but I read about one cat who "lost their legs" and ended up being severely blocked up.

Toxoplasmosis can cause neurological problems, such as balance problems.

Prednisone can do wonderful things for all sorts of things. I would not be euthanizing at least until I tried 1) antibiotics and 2) prednisone. Note, prednisone can't really be used long term, and I'd try JUST the antibiotics first.

It might be worth taking him to a different vet for a second opinion. One thing I am learning is that vets, when it comes to mystery illnesses, don't have a darn clue more than a well-educated pet owner!

Hopefully this helps. If I remember anything else I came across when researching Zoey's symptoms, I will re-post on this thread! for Stray to get better!
post #5 of 11
I don't have much to add, except ditto on getting a 2nd opinion!! Sending prayers you figure out what is wrong and he gets better! Keep us updated.

Originally Posted by zoeysmom View Post
Note, prednisone can't really be used long term, and I'd try JUST the antibiotics first.
Just wanted to comment...prednisone CAN be used long term, but it is not recommended unless necessary as steroids can do lots of harm to the body. My dog takes pred daily and will do so for the rest of his life. Also, my aunt-in-law's cat takes daily pred as well (for asthma). They are weaning her to a lower dose but are not sure if she can handle not being on it! Humans also can take it long term if necessary!

Great advice and inf though, zoeysmom
post #6 of 11
You're right roxsam....it can be used long term for some, but it can do more harm than good. In cases where there are no other options, it doesn't really matter. Prednisone is better than nothing - side effects or not. However, it will certainly "buy some time" in which you may be able to figure out what is wrong.

My neighbour currently has a cat with an unexplained illness. They suspect autoimmune, so he was put on prednisone. However, he was becoming very disfigured, so he has been taken off of prednisone.

As someone who has taken prednisone many, many times, I know the wonders it can do. I would not WANT to be on it long term ever (I would weigh about 250 pounds, have a ridiculously round face, and never sleep more than 6 hours a night)....but if my only other option was to feel horrible (and likely be bed-ridden), I would probably opt for the prednisone.
post #7 of 11
I was also on pred once for about a year and a half. Made me feel physically great but gained alot of weight, ate alot and like Yoeysmom said I'd be lucky to get 6 hours sleep a night. However, I'd rather be on pred than the alternative. Just make sure they wean him off it when the time comes. If he needs a low dose daily for the rest of his life so be it, at least he will be comfortable. (and hungry)
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all your replies

The vet gave my parents a type of steroid and wanted them to give it to Stray if he does not get better, but cautioned that it may actually end up hurting him long term.
I spoke to my sister not long ago and she said that he seems a little bit better. He can walk a little farther now but eventually seems to get dizzy and just drops and flops. He is using his litter box as normal...the first few days they had to help him there and then he would go but today he was able to get himself there.
I will check with my sister to see if the vet checked his ears. She is the one who actually ended up taking him in. I am not pleased with the way this vet has handled this and been unable to give us any real answers. I feel like my parent's money was just taken for the sake of getting money in their pocket...I don't think we will be going back. They were unable to give us any answers at all...only "it might this or this or this or this" and just said to give him time, and suggested euthanizing him. He is eating and drinking and using the washroom and seems happy...I was very shocked to hear that.
Thank you again...I will speak with my sister tomorrow and get the information some were asking for.
post #9 of 11
I am glad he got some medicine, hopefully it helps! It you are at all unhappy with your vet...look for a new one!! Even if Stray gets better with the steroids, start looking for a new one before he needs one again. That way you are prepared with a great vet that you can go to immediately, instead of searching for one.

Prayers that Stray gets better!!

Oh, and about the pred, I have not taken it before but have heard from many people that it does not make you feel too good. My dog is on a maintenance does now, but when he was on a therapeutic does I could see the negative effects it had on him! He was drinking and peeing like crazy ( like he would pee for 2 minutes straight every hour!), had a ravenous appetite and was extremely excitable. Those side effects left with lowering the dose though
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by roxsam View Post
He was drinking and peeing like crazy ( like he would pee for 2 minutes straight every hour!), had a ravenous appetite and was extremely excitable. Those side effects left with lowering the dose though
That pretty much sums it up for humans as well! Add some insomnia in there, and it seems that dogs/cats feel similarly to humans. It's actually doesn't feel too bad....I imagine almost like being on some sort of illegal drug...but after a while, lack of sleep and overeating catch up with you and result in one very bad mood!

I'm glad he is feeling better. I definitely second the finding a new vet right away. Give the prednisone some time to work, but he'll probably need to go back to the vet. I think there are a lot of cases where the vets aren't able to figure out what is wrong. Unfortunately, for a lot of vets, the solution to these cases is to euthanize. However, if he's still eating, drinking, using the litter box, and doesn't seem to be in any pain (cats can hide their pain well, but nothing about his case seems to suggest he's in pain), you have time to try out some different solutions. I personally would find a new vet and take him there soon - armed with the record from the last vet so you don't pay for what has already been done - and see what he/she says. Who knows...maybe they have seen a similar case before!
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by zoeysmom View Post
I personally would find a new vet and take him there soon - armed with the record from the last vet so you don't pay for what has already been done - and see what he/she says. Who knows...maybe they have seen a similar case before!
Alright, more team work with zoeysmom (lol)..definitely get a copy of all the chart papers. When looking for a new vet, see if you can talk to the vet on the phone or meet them in person for an "interview". Maybe that way you can weed out those who will just treat the same way as the current vet. You want to find one that either has experience with something similar or is willing to get to the bottom of it!!! Getting tours of the clinic is good too. If a vet is not willing to talk to me before I am a patient(I know they re busy, but I mean less than 5 min of their time) or will not give a tour then that is not the right vet for me!
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