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my cat died of leukopenia last night and I'd like some advice

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My cat died last night of leukopenia. We're really quite devestated about it but I also have a few questions that I hope somebody can help me with.

Here's the story in a nutshell (sorry, it's so long)

A few weeks ago a friend of ours convinced us that it would be the best thing to give our cat a friend. She even took us to the SPCA where we ended up bringing a kitten back about three weeks ago. The new kitten became slightly sick after a couple of days (sneezing, slight eye discharge) so we took him to the vet. The vet said it wasn't much to worry about and gave us some antibiotics. The next day our cat (two and a half years old) started to become sick. At first, we thought he was just depressed by the newer kitten but then he started sneezing so we took him to the vet. The vet also prescribed antibiotics. Ten days later and he was still without appetite anad the cold didn't seem to disappear. We had to start forcefeeding him with a syringe. We were getting worried by his lack of improvement so we went back to the vet where they prescribed another round of antibiotics. The next day he started throwing him. We called the vet and the SPCA and both said it probably wasn't a big deal but to call back the next day. The next day he has diarrhea and we notice there's blood in it. It really scares us. The vet tells us it might not be such a big deal and to come in the next day. Next day, he's even worse. He goes in and they find out that he has leukopenia. Not only that but he has no white blood cells left.
Although he's hospitalized and on an IV drip, he dies there during the night. It was a horrible experience. The final morning when we took him in to be hospitalized, we had given him a bed to be comfortable and then during the night he crawled up on our bed to sleep with us (leaving blood stains on our cover).

I guess part of it is that we feel guilty that we didn't do the right thing although we did exactly what the vets and the SPCA told us.
Our cat was vaccinated against this so how did he get it?
Is the kitten still contagious? Can he be carrying it?

We're actually considering taking him back to the SPCA. Though it's obviously not his fault, it's also hard not to blame him. And I don't think we can love him now as much as we should. I know that might sound harsh but it's hard to change that feeling.

Also, I feel that the SPCA may be responsible for this. Our vet said that the day after our case, she had another cat come in with the exact same circumstance (a new kitten from the SPCA infecting an older one). When we've called the SPCA, they've been of absolutely no help. They said "it's not our responsibility." From what I've read online, the virus is probably still there at the SPCA and they are adopting cats to people that could infect the cats they already have. This angers me and strikes me as a kind of criminal negligience. Am I right? I know the SPCA has too much to do as it is and that they are underfunded but it seems like they've behaved recklessly by not giving any information about this to us at all.

Also, the SPCA where we adopted our cat did not seem up to standards. It was dirty. They also allowed people to take the cats out of the cages and handle them which allows for easier spread of infection. From what I've read, only bleach can kill the virus. How can I make sure they take these precautions. I live in Canada but is there a national or an international telephone number for the SPCA that I can call to make a complaint about this?
post #2 of 12
I am so sorry for the loss of your cat. I can't even begin to imagine how much pain you are in after losing your cat in this way.

I have no advice for you, but I can say that many shelters are just like the one you are describing.

My thoughts are with you.
post #3 of 12
I am so sorry that your cat became ill and died. I wouldn't blame the kitten though, if anything, the kitten was an innocent carrier. The virus is airborn, highly contagious and recently was the result of many feline deaths in shelters nationwide. The virus is extremely hardy.

Any time you bring a kitten home from a shelter, it is always wise to assume the kitten might carry something and get the kitten tested immediately. If the shelter is sub-standard, stress can be a leading cause of illness in caged cats. The kitten or cat needs to be quarantined from the other resident cats until declared 100% healthy. I realize that does little to help you now. They can carry the virus up to a year. If you take him back to the shelter you could be just sealing his fate there which would be unfortunate.

Most shelters (emphasis on most) do the best they can with what they have. Funded mainly on public donations, some shelters do not have enough funds to test for diseases, spay and neuter, or assist cats that are sickly. Others, due to mismanagements of funds or what have you get caught up in other issues besides the care of the animals entrusted to them.

You couldn't have known, you did what your told to do by the professionals in your life. No one can fault you for that. I would hope that you would keep this kitten instead of surrending her back, but if you do keep the kitten, I would hope you wouldn't resent it. Resent instead the fool who owned the mother cat and didn't spay her before her the litter arrived.

Here is a link, one of the best out there about this disease

post #4 of 12
I am so sorry about your sudden lost. Although I cant help answer any of your questions, I wanted you to know we are thinking of you in this terrible time. I too lost one of my babies two years ago, to a liver tumour, he had been passed by two vets in the uk for his passport to enter France. Within 6 weeks we sadly lost him. I know at the time we felt full of guilt as we had not picked it up sooner, but he knew, as well as your cat knew that you loved him very much. To this day i still miss Titch, and although we have two kittens now, who we adore so much, we still miss Titch.
Again I am sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you all at this time.
P.S, I wouldnt blame the new kitten, he was given a bum start in life before you offered him/her a home. Although it will be hard at first if you keep him around, I wouldnt send him back to the shelter you got him from. Regarding them is there no authority that you could report them to? They deserve to be reported for what they are putting innocent people and animals through.
x x x x x x
post #5 of 12
Is this vet the same vet that your older cat get vaccinated in?

I would not ever go back to the vet again. Any doctor (human or animal) who gives several rounds of antibiotics without close examination is irresponsible.
post #6 of 12
I am so sorry to hear your news There is nothing worse in the world than losing someone you love. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time
post #7 of 12
Originally Posted by Pui Hang
I am so sorry to hear your news There is nothing worse in the world than losing someone you love. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time
post #8 of 12
Is panleukopenia the same as leukopenia?

About a year ago I adopted a kitten from some "rescue" shelter, it ended up dying from panleukopenia about two days later right in front of my eyes. It was extremely disturbing. My cats were both vaccinated and they didn't contract it from the kitten, but my friend's cat did, who came in NO physical contact with the kitten itself. He was an indoor cat and didn't have his shots, we assume he contracted after it transfered from my clothes to my friends, then to him.

I've heard cats, kittens especially, usually die within ten days of having the virus, if they're going to die from it. The mortality rate is extremely high too, so maybe if the little guy is ok now he doesn't have it?
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yes, the older cat died of panleukopenia. The vet said that she had several other cases coming out of the SPCA. We went there last night ready to give them hell but the supervisor was quite sympathetic and said that there were no other known cases (I pointed out that we heard of some through our vet). I don't know. I guess you want to be angry and blame people (the vets, the SPCA, the person who convinced us to get a new kitten, and even the new kitten himself) but I guess it's kind of futile. When we said that we were thinking of dropping the kitten off there, the supervisor said that since he was exposed to panleukopenia, they'd have to put him in the euthanasia room (not that'd they kill him but they'd have to isolate him). In the end, we couldn't bear giving him back in such circumstances so we took him home. I'm still not sure about keeping him though.

What I still don't understand is whether the kitten can be a carrier of panleukopenia or not. I've heard contradictory evidence - one, that if he had panleukopenia at all, he'd be dead. Others say that you can carry the virus for years without symptoms. Can anone clarify? In fact, they said that there was a possibility that the older cat had the virus already and that the onset was merely the cat flu that he got from the kitten which then weakened his immune system and unleashed the virus. Or they said we could have merely picked it up on our clothes at the shelther.

What makes me really sad now is the thought that the older cat had to die alone at the vet. I know he had to be hospitalized as that was the only chance he had at that point but I can't help but feel that he died over night because he was left alone. He was very attached to us and probably thought that we had abandoned him and perhaps that's what caused him to lose the will to live. He was only 2 and a half years old and was in perfect health so he should have been able to fight this thing off. Even the vet was surprised.
post #10 of 12
I'm so sorry for your loss. It is always devasting to lose one so young, and so unexpectedly. I can empathize with the way your feeling about leaving your kitty at the vet and him dying alone. Earlier this year I had a young foster named Archie who was very ill, and after trying and trying to stabilize him at home with force feeding and antibiotics, I took him in for IV fluids, and antibiotics and he too passed away overnight alone. I was devastated by that thought, but the rescue director took me aside and told me that in his condition he was so sick that he probably wasn't aware of his surroundings, and his last thoughts were probably of my house, my arms and his brothers and sisters. I'm sure your baby had those same final memories of being in your bed, and in your arms and your love. Try (and I know it's hard) to remember the love, and the good times, and not dwell on the last tragic moments of his life. He deserves to be remembered well. He will be playing happily over the rainbow bridge, free from pain and waiting to see you again.

hugs and prayers
post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by shengmei
Indeed too when my favortie fish died I was crying for weeks! When birdie or socks dies i will so sad I am so sorry!
post #12 of 12
I lost a foster kitten to panleukopenia (distemper). I had just brought the kitten and his brother home, and several days later my kids found Odie dead! His brother Garfield, who I ended up keeping, barely survived the illness. I was angry at first, too. Mad at the vet who cleared these kittens to come to my home, mad at the original owner, thinking she probably knew these cats were sick when she surrendered them, and yes, mad at Garfield for exposing my first foster litter to panleukopenia. They caught it from him, but survived as they had been vaccinated.

I understand your pain and anger right now. But I can tell you, Garfield is just an orange striped ray of joy in my life. I am so glad I kept him! All of life involves some risk, and sometimes things just turn out horribly. I am very sorry that you lost your kitty from this illness! While you will be more cautious in the future, you must never give up the option of bringing new kitties, new loved ones home. No one who advised you forsaw that your kitty might lose his life if you bring home a little friend.

Look at the new kitty. While he will never ever replace your beloved boy, when you look in his baby eyes, can't you see how he is depending on you? Please give him and yourself some time to heal together. I think in time you will be very glad to have him!
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