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URI: Treatments that Work?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
We adopted a shelter kitty 6 days ago. Three days before that, she was a vibrant and demonstrative little tabby - a bit small (3 pounds at 4-1/2 months) but active and outgoing. The following day, she was spayed and when we saw her on the next day (Saturday), she was lethargic and only somewhat responsive.

Sunday, we decided to get her out of the stressful environment. No temp so no meds but we knew she was coming down with something. In the afternoon, it was evident that she had no interest in food so I tempted her with tuna. No success.

After a restless night during which she breathed through her mouth most of the time, she went to the vet the next morning and was diagnosed with a URI. By then she was at 103F. They gave her fluids subcutaneously; I was advised to feed her CliniCare by syringe and dose her with a decongestant and eye ointment. (They put ivectin in her ears for mites.)

Tuesday she was marginally better but not enough. Back to the vet we went, for more fluids. Wednesday she slept all day but still no interest in food and still a lot of stuffiness (though not as severe).

Thursday, she was more alert but still not eating. Returned yet again to the vet for more fluids and a change in antibiotics (Amoxcill to Clavicil(?)). Today (Friday) I took her to the vet for treatment during the day. She has lost weight (down to 2.4 pounds) but is better hydrated today. Still very stuffy and not eating. She did have a cough yesterday morning but it cleared last night and her lungs are clear today. I also started GSE yesterday - two drops in the syringes since she may not be drinking either. I'll add lysine today (500 mg to start).

Through all of this, I have been syringe feeding her CliniCare (70ml/day) and have started giving her baby food veal with a little water in it. I wrap her in a towel and we work through it, with her yowling. (Washing her face with a baby wipe and stroking her head will calm her.) There is a humidifier in the bathroom where she is encamped,plus I have the window open a crack (it's raining like crazy here). I have a heating pad and there is a heat lamp in the ceiling, but the air temp so far is mid-70's F. I did have a radio in the room, but haven't brought it in when I moved her into the bathroom. She has no interest in using the litter box, so when I wake her up I wait until she squats and place her in it immediately. She also takes no interest in grooming, so I wipe her with very mild baby wipes at least once a day. I have a stack of towels and change them whenever I find a wet spot. She also has a kitty 'house' to go into and snuggle up.

She is a very sweet, loving and snuggly cat and would rather be in my lap or under my chin than almost anywhere else. This makes it doubly tough for me to see her so weak and uninterested. I pick her up in a few hours, late this afternoon. The vet is going to show me how to do the subcutaneous fluids (if I can get someone to hold her). I keep feeling like if I can give her three good full days of nursing care, we can lick this thing.

My biggest questions... what else can I do to help her?? And what do you all believe her chances are of making a full recovery? When might I see improvement? I am exhausted trying to keep up with her care, care of my family and the fact that I'm working on a very demanding project just now. (The vet bills aren't much fun either.)

My other questions... since she is a shelter kitty, they checked her for FIV and FeLV and she was negative 14 days ago. Could she have been infected and the lack of response is due to the fact that she is now positive? She does not demonstrate lameness and I've described her symptoms as best I can.

I'm also worried that she is not even interested in her litter box. I don't know her history other than she was a stray. I haven't started with putting dirt into the box because I'm not sure that she can smell it anyway.

And, I'm concerned about our other 18 month-old cat who though quite fully vaccinated and an indoor cat has never been sick a day in his life. He knows there's another cat in the house but the new one is sequestered behind two closed doors and we adhere to handwashing after handling plus hand sanitizer (I also put clothes over my normal ones when I handle the sick kitty). We won't even attempt introductions until the new kitty is well.

All advice and support is welcome, as is information on therapies that others have found useful for combatting URI.

BTW a number of the kitties in the shelter with her also have URI and are in isolation, including another one I fell in love with who has been in iso with URI for 7 days. However I don't have the energy to care for two at the same time. (I know my limits - at least most of the time!)
post #2 of 15
Bogart had a bad URI like that when he was young. We actually took him to the vets who put him on IV fluids and in an oxygen tent for a week. That is an extreme measure - he would have died without this treatment. The trade off with this treatment was that he wasn't home (to snuggle) and he was somewhat stressed at the vet. He was ill for over a month.

From a home health care, you seem to be doing everything you can. You have been actively involved with your vet, and if you don't feel that they are doing enough (I didn't get that impression from your post), is it an option for you to change vets (get a second opinion)?

FeLV can take a while to work into their system to show up on tests. Depending on what you read, a retest is advised anywhere from 30 to 90 days.

You are an angel for taking in this shelter kitty! Sometimes they do come health challenged, and if you can get over this hump, she will give you years of joy!
post #3 of 15
Bless you for giving this kitten your care.

I want you to think back to when you had a really nasty cold or flu. Did you have any interest in eating or grooming?? I know I didn't. I stayed in bed and had absolutely no interest in taking a shower till I could hold my head up. Your kitty is going thru the same thing but at a much younger age. You have a new baby again that can't take care of itself.

Things will get better, just give it time. In the meantime, is anyone in your family able to give you any help? Even if its just spending some time with the new kitty while you take a break. Or holding the kitten while you give the subq fluids. It sounds like you're doing a great job!

The reward...a healthy kitten that is going to love you like its momma!
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Picked up the sick kitty (Arwyn) from the vet late this afternoon. She appears much better - she jumped on the keyboard in the exam room and started exercising her claws! Some of the first real cat behavior I've seen from her.

They gave her fluids plus B-12 and used a tube to feed her. They are continuing the antibiotic and have changed her decongestant to Chlorpleniranine - 1 mg 2x/day. She HATES the taste. How do you give a cat a pill that it does not like?

I'm happy with the vet - she is really engaging me as a partner in this and teaching me how to give a higher level of care. I came home with a big bag of Ringers and enough needles to last 10 days.

I called the shelter here (Austin) to check on the other cat and discovered that she is on the same antibiotic. If it works for them, it should work for Arwyn!

Thank you for the support - having her begin to act like a normal cat gave me such a big boost tonight and lifted a lot of stress off my shoulders.

Gandalf (the older cat) still looks at me sphinx-like :egypt: from his normal posts around the house. Fortunately he shows no ill effects as yet. Knowing that he's had the full range of vaccinations, does anyone know the possibility of him getting something from Arwyn? The closest he has been is about 10 feet, when I was porting the cat in and out quickly in the carrier.
post #5 of 15
As I've had my vet explain, some vaccinations will simply alleviate major sypmtoms but your cat can still catch the disease (like the Rhino virus). FeLV vaccines are about 60% effective, and if exposed, a cat has about a 24-33% chance of catching it (so roughly 10% of vaccinated cats can still catch the disease from regular exposure).

Vaccines are great, but not 100% effective. And if the URI is viral, no vaccine is going to help. I suggest keeping the quarantine up for a while longer. If you are concerned about FeLV / FIV, then have her retested in 30 days. While shelters would love to be able to go thru a double round of testing, it isn't practical either financially, or timely to keep all cats in quarantine thru 2 rounds of tests. The streets are simply too full of unwanted strays and the shelters would overcrowd quickly.

I'm glad to hear that she is feeling better. We love pictures by the way!!
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I started her yesterday on Hill's a/d at the vet's instructions to try and give a big boost to her nutrition. Mixed in l-lysine (crushed) and echinacea drops (non-alcohol). I'm continuing with the meds (Clavimox and the decongestants plus eye ointment). And I'm also continuing a bit of the CliniCare and veal baby food mixed with olive oil and spirolina. Of course, we'll do the subcutaneous fluids daily (for people who are not medical pros, it's really not a big deal - just have to get past the needle thing!).

The good news? She is much, much better today. Still very stuffy but now making eye contact with me and moving around the bathroom where she is confined. I'm feeding her 3x/day and stuffing all the food down her I can. It's definitely working as the 'eliminatory system' started up yesterday. She's using the litter box about half the time, but not covering it yet. I need to slow down on the olive oil mixture since some of the stools are a little runny.

So far, our other kitty Gandalf shows no ill signs. We're not out of the woods yet, but so far, so good.

A picture of the little furbaby is attached, taken a few minutes ago.
post #7 of 15
Boy, it sounds like you are really doing a thorough & conscientious job, plus have a good working relationship with your vet! You might want to try adding vitamins (I like Felovite - or perhaps I should say my cats like Felovite!).
Chicken soup at a tepid temperature has a nice odor & might induce her to drink a little - plus studies on humans have shown it does help with colds
The litterbox use may come once she feels strong enough to go to it.
Good luck!
Deb E
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Arwyn is gaining more normal cat behaviors and has more energy. She is using the litter box for poop but not for urination yet. As far as the URI is concerned, she is breathing mostly normally and sneezing a bit, but seems to be over it. There was another kitty at the shelter who came down sick two days before her, and she was released from isolation yesterday morning. So I'm hopeful that the URI will be past us tomorrow.

We visited the vet yesterday because she was scratching at her right eye. Did the stain and UV inspection and she has pinpoint ulcers on both eyes. Didn't look like herpes but it could be early. I went home with Atrophine (2x daily) plus a tri-antibiotic (3X daily). Also doing 20 mg aspirin every 3 days for pain. The vet advised me to keep her isolated for at least another week.

She still won't eat on her own and isn't really drinking. I'm continuing a daily fluids subq supplement (100 ml) plus syringe feeding her 3X daily (amounting to about 60% of a can of Presrip a/d). Continuing lysine, echinacea and vitamins daily, as well as GSE in her water.

Any ideas on what's going on? She's pretty miserable when I give her the Atrophine - it tastes terrible and she can't open her eyes. Anything else I can do to make her comfy? (other than provide a lap and cuddles for her 24x7). I really need to get her eating and drinking on her own as I will potentially have to be away next week and though my kids are helping, they aren't up to the task of total management.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
This story has a happy ending.

Arwyn still wasn't eating on her own last Thursday, almost 3 weeks after bringing her home at death's door. We were at the vet's office, and she was going to try an experiment to get her to eat. The vet tech put the food on the counter and Arwyn took a very noisy snuffle and just dug into it. She hasn't really wanted to stop eating since.

Net result? We have taken a kitty that was probably a day away from crossing Rainbow Bridge and brought her back to being a healthy, inquisitive and affectionate little furball.

The diagnosis for her URI is likely the herpes virus. Her eyes developed pinpoint lesions and these have also since healed. The vet prescribed a *very* small dose of aspirin (20 mg/2.5 pounds body weight) every 3 days to help with pain, and it was beneficial, but you MUST be careful with this as it can be toxic to cats.

Today she is *finally* using the litterbox (although not covering it - another challenge for me) and is definitely bored to be stuck in such a small room. A light case of ringworm has also surfaced, so we are treating this before beginning the intro to our household in earnest.

She has also gained more than a half pound - great for what was a bag of bones, fur and eyes when we got her.

Some lessons learned - treatments that work:

-- Good vet care is essential, especially when the kitty is not eating.
-- Antibiotics and meds (decongestants, etc.) as prescribed by the vet. For pills that taste bad, try to follow with food asap so they don't bubble & drool it out.
-- Supportive environmental care: humidifier, heating pad (if no fever is detected), regular changing of bedding, lots of cuddles. I kept a radio or small TV going at a low level to give her a bit of low-level input.
-- Syringe feeding 4x/day with a mixture of Hill's a/d plus baby food meat and supplements. Mix it with water to make a gruel that will squirt out of a syringe. Can use the ones used for kid's meds - a pharmacy will have them. Get several as they will become sticky over time. Wrap the kitty in a towel if it protests and gently squirt the food into the side of the mouth.
-- Infant non-alcohol baby wipes to keep her clean and wipe any excess food off of her (I wiped her down after eating, which she seemed to appreciate).
-- Subcutaneous fluids as instructed by your vet - we did it after a lesson from the vet tech. It's not difficult to do and the pain is very minor for the kitty, with great benefit.
-- Supplements Daily: vitamin drops, 500 mg l-lysine crushed in food, 2-3 drops echinacea in food, 1-2 drops grapefruit seed extract in food. They can go into the syringe. All of these help enhance the immune system, which is supressed whenever the kitty is sick.
-- Isolation, both for lessening the stress on the sick kitty and to protect other household cats. Good handwashing and sanitation techniques are mandatory. The gel cleansers are good for sanitizing your face after a good cuddle session.

Thank you everyone for your contributions, both directly to this thread and throughout. They made a tremendous difference.
post #10 of 15
This is such a great story, so glad it's all worked out for you and Arwyn. She was definitely lucky to get you (cats seem to have a knack of finding the right person!). Good for you for doing everything possible for her and giving her the chance to get well. She will reward you a thousand-fold, I'm sure!
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Arwyn has continued to gain weight and energy. At six months, she is now a healthy 5 pounds and has been through another two sets of vaccinations. These are tough on her - it takes a day or two of being miserable for her immune system to respond. But otherwise she's completely normal. The ringworm is gone and we kept her well isolated so no one else in the household got it.

All of the normal cat behaviors are back and she is now out in the household with the family and the other cat, Gandalf. Still affectionate and demonstrative. I'm so glad that I can post this happy update!
post #12 of 15
What an incredible job you have done. I am new to this forum and have just read your story. I take care of the cats with uri at the spca and know worry and stress you and your kitty have gone thru. I sounds as if her immune system was SEVERELY compromised. She is very fortunate to have found you. You may already be doing this but if not a suggestion - many of the vets that work with us suggest keeping cats that have had uri on l-lysine the rest of their lives to help boost their immune system. It is so wonderfull to hear a success story such as yours.
post #13 of 15
Amoo - that is wonderful news for Arwyn! Doing the kitty happy dance for ya!

post #14 of 15
Arwyn is a little cutie. I'm so glad he feels better and has a wonderful person to take care of him. My Sash had a bad URI when I found him at 8 weeks old, he's had these symptoms off and on for his entire life, he's now 11. They never really interfered with his quality of life though, he would always eat and act fine. The last antibiotic Sash had which was Zeniquin really knocked it out though and it's been six months now since I've heard a sneeze! I would also agree that lysine maybe very helpful if his symptoms return and also I've used Vitamin C for Sash which is also good for the immune system. Good luck! Lisa & Sash

http://pages.ivillage.com/lisalee992 (Sash's website)
post #15 of 15
I'm so glad that your kitty is doing better! My cat, also a shelter rescue, had similar problems, although I think I got him before they got as severe as your kitten was. Bandit also had a URI, with sneezing, runny nose, fever, and stuffy nose. On top of that, he also had what we think was a herpes viral infection in his eye with a bacterial infection superimposed. He was very pitiful and slept for the first 4 days that I had him. He was on 3 rounds of oral antibiotics, eye ointments, and 3 wks of eye drops. Luckily, he's a happy, healthy cat now. My vet did tell me that herpes infections can reoccur, sometimes for no apparent reason. When they do, its easy for the kitty to catch other bacterial infections, especially in the eyes. So just watch out for symptoms of red eyes or runny eyes since this may signal a problem coming up. Bandit's eyes got runny again a few weeks ago, but the vet instructed me to use some more eye drops, and we avoided him being sick again....

Good luck with Arwyn!
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