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Urgent: sick cat, possibly liver disease...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Greetings all,

Just discovered this forum, as I'm desperately in need of advice: my two year old cat Julius, whom we adopted two months ago, has been constantly vomitting for the last few days. We brought him to the vet, the x-ray showed nothing, but the bloodwork showed elevated level of ALT (twice the normal amount), indicating possible pancreatitis or liver disease. In addition, I noticed that his vomit is greenish-yellow, possibly the presence of bile? But strangely, his appetite remains healthy (he just throws them back out later). He does seem less active than normal, however. I wonder if the vomitting is related to the anti-biotic treatment he was receiving for diarrhea, which ended just a few days before he began vomitting (the treatment was effective, though).

At this point, the vet is recommending an ultrasound, as well as an biopsy to pinpoint the disease. However, I'm not sure if I can afford to keep up the diagnosis for much longer, let alone treatment, if it involves surgery or hospitalization. What are my options at this point? Would adoption places take a sickened kitty? Is there a chance that he will recover by himself without treatment? I'd hate to think about the possiblility of putting him to sleep, as we have gotten really attached to him - but I can't just let him be and watch him suffer either. I'm major bummed...

post #2 of 16
Mike - Sorry to hear your little guy isn't feeling well.

Any of the things you've mentioned could cause vomiting - liver disease, pancreatitis, and yes, sometimes a reaction to antibiotics as well.

Antibiotics take a while to work their way out of the system, so if they're the cause of the vomiting, he may still have that for a little while yet. Being less active than normal is to be expected - vomiting is no fun, and it can be dehydrating which is another thing to watch out for. Make sure he's drinking water.

My oldest kitty has liver disease. There are several types of disease and the only way to be sure is to do the ultrasound-guided biopsy. If you decide to do this, try to get a vet experienced in this -a board certified internist is best, if possible. The procedure is not very invasive - it's a very slim needle that takes tiny samples of liver tissue. Still, Julius would have to stay overnight so they could monitor him.

Depending on what the nature of the disease is, there are different treatments.

You could wait and see if the vomiting resolves on its own. I'd wait only another few days, unless he's vomiting repeatedly, in which case you must do something immediately. Ironically, hepatic lipidosis, a liver disease, can occur from lack of food.

I'm not sure what you mean by "adoption places taking a sick kitty" - are you thinking of turning him in to a shelter? Please don't, because most shelters do not have the financial resources to give every ill kitty the medical help he needs. They will likely put Julius down.

Please talk with your vet about the possibility of a payment plan for treatment.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by KTLynn
I'm not sure what you mean by "adoption places taking a sick kitty" - are you thinking of turning him in to a shelter? Please don't, because most shelters do not have the financial resources to give every ill kitty the medical help he needs. They will likely put Julius down.
I asked because a friend suggested that some shelters may have connection to vets, or other resources we may not - but I have suspected what you just mentioned as well.

He's beginning to be able to eat a little bit just this afternoon, and the vomit has decreased in frequency - that's good sign. I hope this holds up...

post #4 of 16
Maybe try him on bland food for a few days?
Like jars of plain chicken baby food or boiled chicken breast, just to see if those will stay down at least a little while longer than his normal food.
post #5 of 16
I would say that the first thing is to recheck his bloodwork. Most vets have the option of running a blood test that just checks liver values, which is less expensive than a full blood panel. Depending on what that shows, then you can go from there.
post #6 of 16
Please keep us updated on how your baby is.. Prayer are being sent your way.
post #7 of 16
Your friend is right - many shelters do have connections with vets for medical care at a discounted rate, but usually the kitty needs to have been adopted from the shelter to take advantage of that.

There's a chance that Julius may not have liver disease - remember that everything he eats or breathes is processed through the liver. It's possible that he came into contact with something that temporarily irritated his liver.
Semiferal's suggestion about repeating blood work is a good one, provided Julius is able to hold down food until then. Liver values change slowly so I doubt your vet would recommend doing more bloods any sooner than 4-6 weeks. Many times with liver disease, all the liver values will be elevated. Not to minimize it, but double the ALT is not terrible, though it must be taken seriously. My cat's ALT is anywhere from 400-600 points higher than it should be. She is, of course, on medication for this.

Speak with your vet about giving Julius Pepcid AC for his stomach upset. My cat gets 1/4 of a Pepcid AC (10 mg size)just once per day and it's been a great help to her. Her vomiting decreased significantly. The 1/4 of a tab is tiny and easy to give - it should be given no less than 1 hour before eating. Double check this with your vet, and if you do get it, read the package carefully. The company puts out several kinds of Pepcid in different strengths - it's very important to get the right one.

I also think that the bland food is a good idea. It's easier on the liver to feed smaller amounts of food at a time, so for a while you should try to feed small meals. You still want Julius to have his normal amount of food, so you may end up feeding him 4-5 small meals for the day rather than two. Remember to monitor his drinking too.

Julius is still very young, and seems otherwise healthy which will help him get through this. Keep up a cheerful attitude with him - that's very important since they sense our concern.

Thanks for keeping us updated - hope things continue to improve.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the helpful inputs and encouragement! While I'm still worried, Julius does seem to be doing better - he only threw up twice yesterday, and held down most of the i/d I gave him. I'll definitely keep you guys posted - you guys are great!

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Update: Julius has definitely been improving. The frequency of the vomitting has decreased dramatically, and he hasn't thrown up since Saturday. This is definitely good signs - I'll keep you guys posted. Thanks for all the input and support!

post #10 of 16
I am glad things are going better. Prayers are still with him and you...
post #11 of 16
I am praying for the little kitty! What a beauty!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just to let you guys know - it's been one week since Julius vomitted, and he has been acting, looking, and eating completely healthy - it looks as if he's recovered from whatever that was bothering him. Hooray!!! Thank you guys for all the support and help!

post #13 of 16
Julus way to go on the fast recovery....
post #14 of 16
So glad to hear Julius is improving!

My kitty used to throw up several times a week. After several trips to the vet, bloodwork which showed nothing but a healthy kitty, I figured out she couldn't tolerate most fish products.

post #15 of 16
Yay Julius!!! I'm so glad he's feeling better
post #16 of 16
Great news about Julius!!!

Fingers crossed that Julius has really lucked out and only had a temporary liver irritation. To be on the safe side, take him back for follow-up bloodwork in about 4 weeks to make sure his liver enzymes are back to normal levels, or are at least improving.

Mike, your situation with Julius is one that most of us have experienced - the possibility of a serious medical problem with the potential for high vet bills. One of the best things you can do now since Julius has gotten a "reprieve" is to prepare for the future. Julius is young and aside from this recent problem, in good health. Talk to your vet's office about pet insurance and see if it sounds like something that could work for you.

Another option is to start an emergency fund for Julius. Decide on a set amount, say $5, and put it in an envelope each day, or once a week. Weeks when you can afford to throw a little more in there, do it. Make it a dedicated fund, *strictly* for emergencies - no dipping into it even for a great cat tree! Do this now, while Julius is young and healthy, make it a habit and be committed to it. You will be very thankful someday (in the very distant future, I hope) when the inevitable medical problem occurs. Too many people have had to make the awful decision of ending their beloved cat's life simply because they can't afford the cost of treatment. Don't let that happen to you and Julius.

So glad your little guy is feeling better. Give us another update when you can.
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