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Old 01-11-2009, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cat with high fever of unknown origin

Hi all...I'm new here, and I've been crawling the net trying to get any information/anecdotes I can. I've been pretty stressed out/sleepless for the past few days, and I'm growing ever more fretful at the lack of solid information that pertains to my problem. Hopefully some of you all have experienced something similar. Here I go...

Right after Thanksgiving, my 4 year old kitty, Dylan, began acting EXTREMELY lethargic. He was sleeping, literally, 23 hours a day and simply could not be bothered. I would wake him up and he would eat and drink well, and I would take him to the litter box where he used the box fine. Then he would go right back to his chair and go to sleep. He also struck me as very stiff--especially in the hind end--and he was reluctant to go up and down the stairs or to jump up on furniture. I was worried about him, but because he wasn't showing any other symptoms aside from lethargy and stiffness, I chalked it up to a side-effect of the intense stress he'd experienced while I was away over Thanksgiving. What had happened was that some feral cats got into my basement (they tore through the insulation around the heating ducts) and into my house. They terrorized my two (totally indoor) cats (Dylan & Chaplin) and urinated all over the basement floor. The girl who was taking care of my cats told me about this, and the minute I got home, I checked both cats over very carefully for any wounds, because I was extremely worried that there had been a fight and the possible transmission of a disease such as FIV. By the time I got home, Dylan was already acting lethargic. Chaplin seemed completely fine. After about a week, Dylan turned the corner and was his normal, active, cheerful self again. I debated off and on as to whether or not to take him to the vet, but because he was still eating and didn't have an respiratory symptoms or anything, I decided to just wait and see. Like I said, he eventually returned to his 100% normal self.

Fast forward a few weeks. I went away for Christmas vacation and while my boyfriend was here most of the time, he left the cats in the care of a friend for five days while he went home to visit his own family. The feral cats, by the way, were no longer able to get into the basement, because I secured the area around the duct work! When I arrived back home on January 4th, I noticed my 3 year old kitty, Chaplin, seemed a little "off." My boyfriend told me that he had just started acting lethargic, and we decided to keep an eye on him. Like Dylan, he was sleeping ALL the time, but still had a fine appetite and litterbox habits (when woken up). He also seemed stiff, but perhaps stiffer than Dylan. Two days ago (Friday), I grew very worried because he was so lethargic he didn't even seem to want to sit up. He also seemed a little "glazed." I took him to the vet and he had a fever of 105.8!! The vet ran a CBC and diagnostic panel, all of which came back completely fine. Chaplin (who was very upset!) wouldn't walk for the vet, but the vet said he was fairly certain the stiffness/reluctance to move was from how terrible the high fever must have been making him feel. He decided to start him on antibiotics and admit him overnight. Yesterday morning, after one dose the antibiotics, the fever was down to 105. The vet gave him his morning dosage, and we checked his temp at noon. His temperature had dropped to 104, and he seemed more alert. Because it was the weekend, the vet told me I should take him home where I could be with him and monitor his temperature (I know how) and give him his medicine--essentially the same care he'd get at the vet's office. He said it was especially good that Chaplin was eating and drinking so well (he ate all of his dry food as well as 1/2 a can of wet food in the vet's office!).

I took Chaplin's temp around 11:00 p.m. last night and it was still at 104. Same thing when I checked it this morning at 10 a.m.

I've barely slept for two nights for all the worrying, because I keep hearing horror stories about cats with unexplained fevers dying of FIP. I asked the vet about FIP, but he said Chaplin wasn't exhibiting any of the other symptoms, and that he had no reason to believe that that was what was going on. I felt a little better, but I'm still worried. II'm kind of driving myself crazy playing the "what-if" game...

I guess I have a couple of questions...

1). Is it bad that we haven't figured out what caused Chaplin's fever? Do YOU think I should be worried about FIP? He's still eating and drinking and using the box.
2). Is it okay that, despite the fact his fever is coming down, Chaplin is still sleeping SO much. He seems to be sleeping very deeply and peacefully, and he's never been that extraordinarily active, but I feel like he should start perking up soon (even though he's only been on antibiotics for about 48 hours). He's nearly impossible to wake up (I know I shouldn't wake him anyway, but I have to wake him up so he'll eat/drink/use the litter box). He still doesn't like walking very much, but he is getting around--he can go up the stairs and jump up onto the couch and bathe himself and such. He just seems exhausted. I suppose I would be, too, if I had a high fever.
3). Is it possible that Dylan contracted something and passed it on to Chaplin, who just seems to have it worse than Dylan did? Their symptoms are SO similar, I can't help but retain that theory.
4). Is the fact that the fever is going down with antibiotic therapy a good sign that this probably ISN'T anything other than some odd illness, rather than something horrible like FIP?

Sorry for the novel...but I just feel so confused not having a NAME to put to this problem. The vet (who is normally very doom and gloom) seemed surprisingly nonchalant, and just told me that sometimes cats get high fevers for no apparent reason. I guess I just have a hard time believing that there's not something seriously wrong. I think that if I knew what it was, I would feel much better. I talked to the vet this afternoon about the fact that the temp is still stuck on 104, but the vet says he feels alright about that, and that I should take his temp again tonight, and then again in the morning, and call him to give him a report. He may have me come in for another CBC.

Chaplin's not getting any worse (except the antibiotics may be upsetting his tummy just a little), but he just doesn't seem to be getting any better. He did swat at a peacock feather a few times, but it seemed to wear him out.

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer. I'm trying to keep myself from getting sick out of all this, because that's the last thing Chaplin needs!
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat with high fever of unknown origin

I completely understand your fears. I went through something very similar over the last 3-4 mos of 2008. One of my cats suddenly came down with a very high fever and complete loss of appetite, no energy and secluding himself away from the other cats as much as possible. I immediately started him on an antibiotic, administered room temp subQ fluids (which I always have on hand for my CRF cat), and then placed him on a cool, wet towel in a pet carrier for an hour to help bring down his temp. I called my vet to confirm that my course of treatment was appropriate, which it was. Within 24 hrs, the cat's temp was down to normal, and he was eating and acting just about normal.

2-3 weeks later, another of my cats came down with identical symptoms, and I did exactly the same thing for her. Again her temp came down within 24-48 hrs.

Several weeks later, another cat fell ill the same way, and I repeated the treatment again. A month later another of the cats got the same doggone symptoms, and I followed the same course of treatment. This made me pretty crazy since I have 15 cats, and a different one seemed to be getting this same illness every few weeks. Thankfully, the illness stopped after the fourth cat.

Since I was able to bring the fevers down quickly in all of the cats, my vet never felt the need to see them. He seemed convinced that I just had some sort of viral infection sweeping through the house that would just have to run its course. Assuming he was correct, the antibiotics were never doing anything to cure the existing ailment at all. All they were doing was helping prevent any secondary bacterial infections from occurring.

In any event, I never had any definitive diagnosis, and the mystery illness seems to have gone its merry way, leaving my cats none the worse for wear.

Don't fret about Chaplin's lingering stiffness and fatique. They are common and temporary effects of fever that will disappear once his fever subsides. You might try wrapping him in a cool, damp towel if he'll allow it, or placing a cool, damp towel in a pet carrier and having Chaplin lie in it for 30-60 mins. A cool, damp towel will help draw the excess heat out of his body.

It's also a good idea to get extra fluids into him, if possible, to help flush the infection out of his body. Canned food soup (canned food mixed with hot water) is an easy way to increase fluid intake.

If Chaplin's temp remains above 103 tonight, I'd recommend taking him back to the vet tomorrow. Hopefully, though, that temp will come down with a little more help from you.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Laurie
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat with high fever of unknown origin

Welcome. I'm sorry your two kitties are feeling under the weather and you are worrying so much. I don't have any information to add, but I'll keep you and your kitties in my thoughts as I send good wishes your way.
Heidi
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat with high fever of unknown origin

I'm sorry that you are facing this with both of your kitties. I know that I would be a wreck as well.

When my cat was 6 years old, he too presented in a very lethargic manner one day. My first clue was when he attempted to jump up on our bed and missed, gave up and just laid down on the floor. I took him to the vet and was told that he was running a temp (BTW, a cat's normal temp is between 100.5 - 102.5). Same scenario, blood work all came back within normal limits too. The vet started him on Subcutaneous fluids and eventually showed me how to administer them at home so he could be home with us. We also tried various antibiotics. His body didn't really respond as we had hoped... tried some other antibiotics... they didn't work either. We then opted for exploratory surgery as Clyde was quite young and we wanted to get to the root of what might be causing this before we would risk him being too weak to recover from surgery. The exploratory surgery came up with nothing. Eventually it was an injectable human form of antibiotic that Clyde's body started to respond to. He needed shots twice/day, then once/day, then once every other day... until we could be certain that his body could be weaned off of the antibiotic without slipping backwards. We never did find out what the cause was. All that I know is for a while there I thought that EVERY single day that I brought Clyde back to the vet that he was going to die. It was awful.

After Clyde was given a clean bill of health (and we were presented with a pretty large vet bill for a couple of struggling college students), I whispered in his ear that he had better live to the age of 20 after all of the worry that he gave us. I'm happy to report that Clyde lived another 12 years after that and was very healthy for the rest of his 18 years of life (he tried his hardest to live up to his end of the 'deal'). I hope that your two will enjoy such a long life with you as well. Sending good thoughts your way for a quick recovery.
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat with high fever of unknown origin

Thank you so much--all of you--for your encouraging anecdotes and your well-wishes. I'll admit, I teared-up a little reading the most recent response here...because I found myself telling Chaplin almost the same thing tonight. A few nights ago, I was crying as though I'd already lost him. I'm slowly regaining hope. I have to keep telling myself, "At least he's not getting worse...at least he's eating...at least he really likes this food....at least he just drank that tuna juice..." He's been totally avoiding his big "brother," Dylan, for the past three days, but today, he used the chair I'd put near the bed to get up to where Dylan was lying and he let Dylan lick his ears, just like always. In fact, he and Dylan have been sleeping with each other all day. I take the fact that he seems to be more social as a good sign. Please, if you're a pray-er, say a little one for Chaplin. Good vibes and positive, healing thoughts are also very, very welcome. I've been doing a lot of both these past few days.

If anyone else has a story or advice to share, I'd be extremely grateful. Forums like this have been a lifeline for me. I don't know what I'd do without someone to talk to.

Thanks so much.

-Kelsie
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat with high fever of unknown origin

*closes eyes to send good thoughts and healing wishes*
Like you, I think it is encouraging to see him keeping steady and even resuming some of his former activities with the household.

This forum helped me tremendously two years ago when my Malibu was diagnosed with idiopathic (means they don't know why) Hepatic Lipidosis, commonly called fatty-liver. After the diagnostics, I could not afford the amount the vet quoted me for their in-clinic treatment, so I opted to treat her at home when I learned treatment was non-invasive and mostly physical and time-consuming. The vet was reluctant, as almost all HL cats treated at home die. I am happy to say, that with all of the support I got from the members here at CatForum, I was able to force feed Mallie for just about a week and then she began to eat on her own and recovered steadily after that.
That experience radically changed our relationship with each other. Before, Malibu had been a rather aloof former-feral. After, Mallie is now my snuggliest snuggle kitty; on my lap when I sit down, is in whatever room I am in and sleeps curled into my chest or on my head, every night.
Heidi
Mallie is the 'eyes picture' in my siggie.
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat with high fever of unknown origin

Hey friends...a little update:

Chaplin's temp is stuck on 103.5, but he's acting MUCH better. Tonight, for the first time in days, he woke up without any prompting, clawed up the carpet on the basement stairs (it's been so long!), used the litterbox, went into the kitchen and ate some kibble (he hasn't done that in days!), and then took himself on a tour of the house. AND THEN...he meowed when spoken to! It's been nearly a week and a half since he "answered" us when we talk to him. I was so thrilled!!

I think he must be getting better, if only his dang fever would go down. Tonight, his Cefa-Drops will be all gone. I'm supposed to take his temp in the morning and call the vet. We're both assuming this is a virus, but we may switch to a new antibiotic to cover our bases in case we're dealing with something like Toxoplasmosis.

I hate to get all excited, because I'm so afraid of the fever coming back, but it hasn't spiked to 104 in two days now, so maybe it really is, slowly but surely, going down.

I'll keep on giving little updates. If anyone has anything to add, I'd love to hear from you!

-Kelsie
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you for the update, I was wondering about him today. Even if his fever hasn't gone down, I think that is GREAT and highly encouraging that he is returning to his normal activities and behaviors.
Whiskers crossed that he keeps getting better/better.
h =^..^=
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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That's great news Kelsie! I hope Chaplin continues to feel better. Still sending prayers and good thoughts your way....
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks so much. I'm just so, so, so worried about FIP still. I just wish someone could say, "no! that's not what it is!" I was feeling pretty confident, but I keep thinking about how all the articles I've read say, "The main cause of fever of unknown origin in cats is FIP." Is that true?!?!? Wouldn't he be exhibiting other symptoms by now? It's been at least six days now...he started out at 106 and now he's at 103.5...I just wish the fever would break once and for all. I'm so worried and frustrated. I've got to get some sleep and eat some real food, or I'LL be the one going to the hospital. I just have a hard time taking care of myself when I feel like I should be taking care of him.
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