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Cat has recurring mystery illness -- help!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
My family's 2-year-old cat keeps getting sick, and no one -- including the vet -- has been able to figure out what's wrong.

His symptoms:
-Stops drinking water, but continues eating (we end up having to give him IV fluids or put water in his mouth with an eye dropper)
-Becomes extremely lethargic; change in mood and activity
-Has low white blood cell count
-Has low protein levels
-Bowel function remains normal, and he isn't vomiting

He's had blood tests and X-rays, and the only things that ever come back abnormal are the WBC and protein. He doesn't have leukemia, cancer, or any obstructions showing up on the X-ray.

Whenever he starts getting sick, the vet puts him on antibiotics, and he gets much better. After a month-long course of antibiotics is over, he goes off the meds, is back to his old self for a week, and then gets sick again.

This cycle has been going on for the past year. It seems to be some kind of recurring infection. We can't keep him on antibiotics forever, obviously, but that's the only thing that has helped so far.

The only other option the vet has presented to find out what's wrong is exploratory surgery... which we will only consider as a very last resort.

It's so heartbreaking to see this sweet kitty sulking around and just sitting listlessly all day. But no one has any idea why he keeps getting sick.

If anyone has any ideas, or has had a similar experience, I would be completely grateful to hear about it. Thank you so much.
post #2 of 6
The poor dear. I don't have any ideas, but I know someone will be coming along shortly. I will keep watching and will contribute my thoughts. Did you say how old your cat is?
post #3 of 6
is he an indoor or outdoor cat? if hes outdoor could there be something hes eating outside causing an upset?
post #4 of 6
I have learned that antibiotics can serve as an anti-inflamatory for some diseases, and in those cases, using them masks the symptoms of the disease for a short period of time. If there isn't a bacterial infection, then using them can hurt him in the long run, as he will build up a tolerance to them and they won't be effective when he does need them. I understand that if they are providing temporary relief why your vet would prescribe them, but after a year, they should have learned that they aren't the right treatment.

I have a cat with chronic bladder issues that are caused by an auto-immune disease. This is the cat where I learned about antibiotics serving as an anti-inflamatory, and they did provide him temporary relief. Blood work, x-rays and an ultrasound didn't diagnose his problem and it did take a surgical biopsy to find the problem. But it was clear that his problem was in his bladder so they knew what to biopsy and since they ruled out other things, there was a strong suspicion that he had an auto-immune problem there.

It doesn't sound like your vet has narrowed down where the problem is, so if they did surgery, what exactly are they looking for? Have you talked to your vet about a referral to a specialist? I personally wouldn't put any cat thru surgery unless there was a specific target that they were cutting into to confirm a strong suspicion.

I think this is a case where you need a second opinion from a specialist.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the responses!

Farleyv, our cat is just shy of 2 years old. Thank you for your reply

AJ, he is mostly an indoor cat. We used to let him out, but stopped after the first time he got sick and now keep him inside... would it be possible that something he ate many months ago could still be making him sick?

Momofmany -- you raise a great point about antibiotics masking an inflammatory problem. This sounds like a very real possibility, since so many rounds of antibiotics haven't killed an infection yet. The vet thought there might be a problem/inflammation in the cat's digestive tract, but X-rays don't show anything -- which is why they were proposing surgery. (Ugh)

After talking with my family, we've decided to hunt down a specialist before doing anything intrusive like surgery. Hopefully we'll find the root of the problem soon!

Thanks again
post #6 of 6
I once had a doctor who told me that many doctors have a problem solving chronic sinus infections. He said most of them treat it too weakly, actually encouraging resistant bacteria. A 10-day run of antibiotics isn't enough, but it's the norm.

He said he put patients on a 30-day run of one antibiotic, then switched immediately to a 30-day run of an unrelated antibiotic. The thinking is that in 30 days, you have killed all the bacteria that one will kill, and you finish off the resistant ones with the second run.

You have my sympathy. It's no fun having a furry loved one who is chronically ill.
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