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Very sick kitten- vet stumped.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Last night, one of my 5 week old kittens went from running around, to vomiting and lethargic in under a half hour. We rushed her to the e-vet, who gave her fluids and something to keep her from throwing up. By the time we got to the vets, she was flat and lifeless. They ruled out panluek and infections, but could not find out what was causing the kitten to be this sick. I decided to bring her home, and hope for the best. I really didn't think she would last much longer and neither did the vets, but after having to burry my Mufasa just a few days ago, I wasn't ready to give up and have to burry another furbaby. I stayed up all night with her, and tried to feed her every hour. She wouldn't take anything, and just layed there comatose. Her breathing started to get shallower, and she started to twitch. I figured she'd be gone any minute. I must have dozed off, because I woke up 20 minutes later, and she was purring. I moved her around a bit and she semi woke up, so I tried to give her some food, which she ate. I started feeding her a little bit every 1/2 hour, and she slowely started to come to. By 4 in the morning, she was able to sit up and by 5 she was wobbling on her legs.
At the moment, she is walking around, but is still a little shakey.

What could cause something like this? She's FeLV and FIV negative, has never been outside, and neither has the mother, and I can't see how she would have gotten into anything as they are locked in the bathroom and there is nothing within their reach that is dangerous.
The vet said it could be hypoglycemia, but wouldn't she have purked up right after they gave her the corn syrup, not hours later??

I am so confused. I really hope she'll be ok.
post #2 of 10
gothicangel69, to me that sounds like a reaction to some kind of toxic substance...I know you believe that she couldn't have gotten into anything 'because she was locked in the bathroom'....but, perhaps she got into something nasty while in there. Remember, we're talking about a kitten, so it would not take very much of anything toxic to have such an effect on her.

Bathroom cleansers are very toxic to cats...if there were even a little residue from previous bathroom cleanups lingering on the floor and she walked in it, then licked a paw........perhaps soap residue/scum in the tub? Really, the list of seemingly innocuous causes could go on and on.

Personally, I only use dish soap to clean my bathrooms - and then, I go back over everything with a clear water rinse. Here's why:

My very first cat experienced something similar to what your kitten has, although her episode wasn't nearly so dramatic. (this was forty years ago, but I've never forgotten it and am constantly vigilent about cleansers - including laundry soap granules - to this very day) My Vet suspected that she had ingested some powdered household cleanser, asked me what I used and everything pointed to a confirmation of his suspicion. Of course, we were never able to confirm it. Her liver values were greatly elevated, but over time she recovered fully and lived to be twenty!

I think I'd think very carefully and list everything that's been used in that bathroom...and, regardless, certainly wash and rinse the place. I'd also have some bloodwork done (I'm actually very surprised that it wasn't done at the ER) (actually, I'm also surprised that they gave her something to prevent her vomiting - without understanding WHY she was throwing up....this might have worsened the effects of a toxin she otherwise could have purged!)

Anyways-just a quick reply - hope some of this is helpful.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
There is nothing in the cupboards that is dangerous, but maybe she did get something off the floor?? Thats the only thing I can think of. Wouldn't she have died if she was poisoned though? My vet seems to think its hypoglycemia, but I dont think thats right either.
Whatever it was, its a miracle that she's alive right now. She was literally on the brink of death, then just turned tail and started getting better. All I was doing was holder her to keep her warm, and petting her.

She is still a little unstable on her feet, but is bounding around almost back to her usual self.
I would like to get some bloodwork down, but don't want to stress the poor thing out any more than she already has been.

I have to come up with a name for her. I'm having trouble finding the right one though. I want something that says she's lucky, and a fighter.
post #4 of 10
My first thought was that she had gotten into some kind of cleaning substance, too - or maybe she got bitten by some kind of bug. I had the same thing happen with one of my foster kittens not too long ago: I thought for sure that she was dead. She was not responding at all at first, then suddenly starting coming around. Within a few minutes, she was just fine and running around and playing. It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen. When I posted a thread about it, some of the members told me that kittens can all of a sudden go limp like that for no apparent reason.

If you're sure there's no possibility that your kitten got into anything poisonous, maybe she did get bitten by some kind of bug. I had that happen to my Maverick once. Bug bites can cause severe reactions, but usually a cat can fight off the toxins. I'm thinking it was some kind of bug bite, since your kitten is all right now. As you say, if it was some kind of poison, she probably wouldn't have made it..

I'm glad she's okay! How about the name Serafina, which means "fiery one"? Since she seems to be a little "spitfire" and fought for her life?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
That is a wonderful name! I love it.
I decided to put her back in with her littermates tonight as she seems to be doing much better. I'll just keep checking up on her throughout the night.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
OMG! I just remembered that I did use a cleaning product to wipe up some poo a few hours before she got sick!! Im pretty sure I wiped it up real good, but it could be that she injested some of the residue.
I looked at the bottle, and it says it contains ethanol. When I looked up the symptoms of ethanol poisoning, it was almost exactly what the little one experienced.
I feel absolutely awful now. I could have killed my little furbaby! Does anyone know if there are any lasting effects from ethanol poisoning?? She is almost `100% better, but for some reason sways her head back and forth when she's sitting. Other than that though she is great- eating and playing.
post #7 of 10
If there is an animal poison control centre, then call it immediately. Or call the vet. Really they can tell you.
post #8 of 10
I'm so sorry about your Mufasa. How terrible to have had to lose a baby and then deal with the health crisis of another. I wish I had seen this earlier, but I still wanted to take time to respond now -- thank goodness it's under the pretense of your little one having improved.

When I read what you initially wrote, I, too, thought of the kitten having come into contact with a toxin. The symptoms you shared almost read to the letter the symptoms I have come across when dealing with pets who have been poisoned or who ingested a poison. That being said, since the baby is still showing some symptoms (ie. the swaying of her head), I would strongly recommend contacting the poison control hotline. The number for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline is (888)426-4435. There is a charge of $65.00, but it is money well spent if it can possibly save a life.

While it is, of course, possible that your kitten has a viral infection or another underlying illness, I do think ruling out toxicity to the cleaning product you used is a good start. And, as I'm sure you know, if the baby should begin to decline or new symptoms develop, I would immediately go to a local ER vet. I am happy to read that the kitten is doing better, but I would not relax just yet. Some toxins can have lasting effects -- from nervous system issues to kidney or liver failure. I'm not saying this to scare you, but working in a veterinary clinic has opened my eyes to how dangerous poisonings can be. And, on the flip side, if there is an underlying health issue, the symptoms can reappear, shift, or change. So, please keep a watchful eye on the kitten in question as well as his or her littermates.

I hope you're able to find some answers. But, sometimes, there aren't any. Even if that's the case, I hope that the baby continues to improve, thrive, and grow. Please keep us updated. Many vibes are being sent your way for healthy, happy kittens all around. Good luck and thank you for being such a wonderful kitten "mom."

(I just realized you're in Canada. I hope the above poison control number can still be of service to you. I have come across another resource that may be helpful. It states that it does serve people and pets throughout the USA and Canada. It's the Pet Poison Helpline and the number is (800)213-6680. I hope that helps if the other number does not.)
post #9 of 10
I didn't want to add this into my original thread as it is just some basic information (in vet-speak) that I was able to look up via the Merck Veterinary Manual online. It is very clinical in the way it reads, but, perhaps, it may be of some use. And, please note that it does discuss hypoglycemia (I have highlighted this for you) in the text. Credit for the below goes to the Merck Veterinary Manual. Highlighting was done by me and does not reflect markings in the manual.

Alcohol toxicosis results in metabolic acidosis, hypothermia, and CNS depression. All species are susceptible.

Ethanol, methanol, and isopropanol are the alcohols most frequently encountered in veterinary medicine. Ethanol is present in a variety of alcoholic beverages, some rubbing alcohols, drug elixirs, and fermenting bread dough ( Bread Dough). Methanol is most commonly found in windshield washer fluids (windshield “antifreeze”). The lethal oral dose of methanol in dogs is 4-8 mL/kg, although significant clinical signs may be seen at lower doses. Isopropanol is twice as toxic as ethanol and is found in rubbing alcohols and in alcohol-based flea sprays for pets. Oral doses of isopropanol ≥0.5 mL/kg may result in significant clinical signs in dogs.

All alcohols are rapidly absorbed via the GI tract and most are well absorbed dermally; toxicosis from overspraying pets with alcohol-based flea sprays is not uncommon. Alcohols reach peak plasma levels within 1.5-2 hr and are widely distributed throughout the body. They are metabolized in the liver to acetaldehyde (ethanol), formaldehyde (methanol), and acetone (isopropanol); these intermediate metabolites are then further converted to acetic acid, formic acid, and/or carbon dioxide. (In humans and some other primates, accumulation of formic acid results in retinal and neuronal damage; nonprimates are efficient at eliminating formic acid and therefore do not develop the blindness and cerebral necrosis seen in primates). Alcohols are eliminated via the urine as parent compound as well as metabolites. In dogs, up to 50% of a dose of methanol may be eliminated unchanged via the lungs.
Alcohols are GI irritants, and ingestion may result in vomiting and hypersalivation. Alcohols and their metabolites are potent CNS depressants, affecting a variety of neurotransmitters within the nervous system. Metabolites such as acetaldehyde may stimulate the release of catecholamines, which can affect myocardial function. Metabolic acidosis results from the formation of acidic intermediates, and both parent compounds and metabolites contribute to increases in osmolal gap. Hypothermia may develop due to peripheral vasodilation, CNS depression, and interference with thermoregulatory mechanisms. Hypoglycemia develops secondary to alcohol-induced depletion of pyruvate, resulting in inhibition of gluconeogenesis.

Clinical Findings and Diagnosis:
Signs generally begin within 30-60 min of ingestion and include vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia, disorientation (inebriation), depression, tremors, and dyspnea. Severe cases may progress to coma, hypothermia, seizures, bradycardia, and respiratory depression. Death is generally due to respiratory failure, hypothermia, hypoglycemia and/or metabolic acidosis. Pneumonia secondary to aspiration of vomitus is possible.
The determination of blood alcohol levels may help to confirm the diagnosis of alcohol intoxication.

Stabilization of severely symptomatic animals is a priority. Adequate ventilation should be maintained, and cardiovascular and acid/base abnormalities should be corrected. Seizures can be controlled with diazepam (0.5-2 mg/kg, IV) as needed. For asymptomatic animals, induction of emesis may be of benefit in the first 20-40 min following ingestion. Activated charcoal is not thought to appreciably bind small chain alcohols and is not often recommended. Bathing with mild shampoo is recommended for significant dermal exposures. Supportive care, including thermoregulation and fluid diuresis to enhance alcohol elimination, should be administered. Anecdotally, yohimbine (0.1 mg/kg, IV) has been used to stimulate respiration in severely comatose dogs with alcohol toxicosis.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you. The information provided was very helpful. I will be keeping a close eye on the little one, and will probably take her in for a checkup soon if the head swaying does not stop.
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