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Life or Death Medical Situation -- Please Help

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We obtained a shelter cat six years ago for my 80 year old Mom unknowing at the time of acquisition that he had been abused. The kitty is inactive in nature, BUT becomes fiercely aggressive and will bite (he had been declawed by previous owner) if anyone tries to pet or handle him in any way... just about feral. It's been a "hands off" relationship, for her and us with the kitty, but we still love him. For medical checkups the vet has been using anesthesia to sedate him so he can be handled.

At his last check up the vet informed my mom the cat's bloodwork indicated early onset hyperthyroidism, and at the same time, indicated he would no longer treat the cat because of the dangers of repetitive anethesia to a 10 year old cat. My own vet concurred regarding anesthesia and suggested dousing a towel with felliway spray with the cat in his carrier to mellow him out. We spoke to the cat's vet about this, but he was not interested in trying this out. Has anyone ever tried this? Or if you have another suggestion please let me know. We are desperate...not to treat the cat is a death sentence and we are determined to keep him in good health. Thank you.
post #2 of 16
First of all, I would dump your vet and find a feline specialist to treat this cat. They have amazing ways with strays (especially abused ones) Mine will repeatedly spray the exam table, her hands and her feet with Feliway spray before and during the exam. She speaks quietly, is very gentle and thorough. Her office cubicles are glass so the cat isn't surprised with her sudden appearance.

Prior to the visit, keep the cat carrier out 24/7 sprinkle catnip inside of it, feed the cat wonderful treats inside of it and make it a fun area with soft bedding so the cat can view it as a relax area. It may be that he will spray the carrier initially and this is acceptable because he is claiming it as his own.

On the day of the exam, place the carrier inside the car on some sort of padding (to lessen the vibrations of the engine and the sound of the road and the undercarriage. Put this CD in and let it play softly the entire way to and from the vet. Cover the carrier with a thick dark cloth (weather permitting) if it is hot and humid, you don't want a thick cover, but a thin dark sheet will work. Keep the cat covered until he gets into the exam room

Good luck
post #3 of 16
Instead of Feliway as proposed, you can also try with Felifriend. It is a "sibling" to Feliway, but works slightly different.
Feliway is best at overall atmosphere, Felifriend when handling the scared cat. You spray on hands etc just before you take at the cat.
My guess is Hissys vet is really using this Felifriend.

There is also a possibility to cover the cats eyes. (compare with falcons who you train). Although the masks arent common, but I DID saw them in my vets office. So many vets probably know what it is.

Otherways I second Hissy.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hey, thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to write me. I will look for the Felifriend, but right now my big problem is trying to find a new vet for the cat. I live in NJ, my mom and 'Precious' (some name for such a ferocious boy!) live on Long Island, NY. I have a feeling that most vets just don't want to deal with problem animals in general. A specialist would be perfect, but I just tried to google specialist vets on LI and came up with nothing. I'm going to call Cornell Vet school tomorrow, perhaps they have a referral. My vet offered care but I live 60 miles away. I just have to work this out somehow.
post #5 of 16
I have no advice, but bless you for taking on this cat and it's problems. It's really heartwarming to know there are people like you out there.

good luck and lots of vibes
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your kind greeting. I'm getting so stressed over this plus I have four of my own!
post #7 of 16
If I were you, I'd contact the Animal Medical Center in NYC about this problem. They're internationally known and might be able to make a referral in your mother's area. If not, and you had to bring the cat to them, they're not so far away.

My own cat had to be treated at Oradell Animal Hospital in NJ for a serious illness, and I LOVE everyone at that place. It's an hour from me, so I don't use it as my regular vet, but it's probably close to you.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Wow, I forgot all about that place! Thanks so much. Isn't it prohibitively expensive for you to take you kitty there for regular vet care? I know they handle the tough stuff. Thanks so much. It's unfortunate that the cat lives on Long Island and I'm not getting any leads to compassionate vets there! But I I'll perhaps to get a consultation at Oradell. Precious (some name for a catzilla) and I thank you.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by HappilyRetired View Post
If I were you, I'd contact the Animal Medical Center in NYC about this problem. They're internationally known and might be able to make a referral in your mother's area. If not, and you had to bring the cat to them, they're not so far away.

My own cat had to be treated at Oradell Animal Hospital in NJ for a serious illness, and I LOVE everyone at that place. It's an hour from me, so I don't use it as my regular vet, but it's probably close to you.
Thanks so much for reminding me of calling New York Animal Hospital. They did a stellar job in treating my pet turtles over the years. My oldest is 41 years old. Will definately give them a call too.
post #10 of 16
To me, the simple and best solution is to go with the radio iodine treatment. It is (imo) what should be done for all hyper-t cats. It is expensive yet cheaper in the long run then pilling and constantly running to the vets for blood tests. It is a 1 time only treatment and has a very high success rate.
Also, feliway has plug ins for the house. (can be used just to calm him down in general
Thanks for caring
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
optionken, I tend to agree with you, but the problem is that I haven't been able to find a new, regular vet to give us any direction on this. For example, we need answers like, can the cat be treated in a radio therapy facitilty if he can't be handled? If he'll eat the tapazole crushed in with food, could we do that or would we have to keep bringing him back for blood tests which require more anesthesia. It's all about the fact that Mr. Precious can not handled at all and needs to be knocked out for any medical treatment. AND...the his former vet and my own seem to agree that Precious can not continue to get anesthesia. These are the issues we need help on.

This weekend we're headed out to LI to visit and we're going to give a trial run on the tapazole crushed in his food and try to get his weight. If we're lucky we'll also try the feliway test, but I have no reason to believe that's going to sedate him enough to be handled as he is such a wild child.
Many thanks,
post #12 of 16
The feliway diffusers (atleast 2-3 of them) should be a permanent fixture at your mom's home. This may help him be a less stressed out cat.

Bach Pet Rescue Remedy (is a stress reducer) that can be given to relieve stressful situations (ie: like going to the vet). I would start applying it atleast a week before he goes to the vet. You can view the website at (they can be found in health food stores and online stores as well)

Another thing to look into are flower essences. They are much more easier on a cats body and much more natural. If you search on the following sites you may find an essence that is best suited for your mom's cats temperment. You could also call one of these companies and enquire if they can make an essence best suited for the cat.

My sister had a cat that sprayed for 5-7 years. She tried everything to deter him. When she moved into a one bedroom apartment she used a combination of 2 feliway diffusers in a 1 bedroom apartment, the Bach pet rescue remedy, and a "spraying cat" formula from and she has had great success so far. Her cat has become much more calmer and friendlier since on this combination.

It's worth a shot to try a few different combinations instead of repeatedly putting him under or giving him a harsh medication. These are all natural.

Please keep us updated on your progress of finding a new vet. Also, it may be good to have the cat see a behavourist
post #13 of 16
Tapazole tends to be very bitter, so I would be surprised if Mr. Precious will eat it in a food. That said, you might see if you can find a compounding pharmacy to compound into a treat form, if he'll eat treats. Ultimately, radioiodine is still the best option. With medication, you will have to do regular blood tests (as in every few weeks until stable, and at least every 6 months after that). They do still do blood tests with radioiodine to confirm that it worked but far fewer of them are done. I would suggest calling facilities in your area that perform the treatment and asking how they had feral cats. Also, have you spoken to your vet about giving a pill-type sedative to see if you can reduce the need for anesthesia?
post #14 of 16
Also, have you spoken to your vet about giving a pill-type sedative to see if you can reduce the need for anesthesia?
The issue with this, especially if we are talking using something like ace is if a cat gets ramped up [or a dog, or a horse for that matter] things can go the other way, the animal doesn't get sleepy is gets more aggro.

I think wherever you go the cat will have to be sedated. He's always going to associate the smells and sounds of a vet clinic with negative things, not to mention you can't even handle him at home.

I'd have them take the thyroid out personally, the procedure may work, it may not, but you aren't going to be able to pill him, and you don't want to sedate him multiple times. If that didn't work you could go the radio iodine route, which still ultimately is the best because you will get to all of the thyroid tissue in the body.

We're treating a fractious cat for a busted leg right now, she's been sedated a couple of times a week, she's older [7-8yrs] we use reversible sedation [dormitor/torb]. The cat however can be handled, the procedure of wrapping/x-raying the leg is what she can't stand.[And shouldn't have to.]

The reality is whether you go to a specialist or not, if you can't handle the cat there's no way putting the cat in a foreign place with foreign scary smells that this cat will handle it any differently. I DO think you should look for a cat savvy vet, they might have better sedation ideas, speaking from the technician end, it is more stressful to wrestle your cat for a blood draw, have him get freaked out and all of the people involved get bit then to give him some sedation to slow him down. Even not knocking him all the way out, just enough so he could be restrained is better than nothing at all.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Plebayo, Everything you have written is right on target. Thanks so much. A little progress was made on Friday, a very large animal shelter on Long Island, NY (North Shore Animal Shelter) called me back with a referral to one of their own veterinarians whom I was told specializes in difficult animals. We called, unfortunately didn't hear back yet (the holiday probably) but you can be sure I will be following up with that person on Tuesday.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
After lots of referrals just wanted to let all of you folks know that I found a vet at the North Shore Animal League's Animal Hospital, Lake Success, Long Island, NY who is willing to take on "difficult Mr. Precious" as a patient. In the interim, I did deterime he will take tapazole in his wet food; and the Feliway experiment didn't work. Three cheers for Dr. Dunn! So, doing the legwork does pay off.
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