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Old 05-04-2010, 11:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Old cat vomiting daily--pancreatitis?

Hi everyone,

We've got a 15 year old cat who started vomiting on an almost daily basis a few months ago, usually around dinner time. I just thought it was a normal sign of aging until she started to actually throw up her food after eating. After ruling out a couple of possible causes (and costing me about $600), our vet now thinks it's most likely pancreatitis. He gave her a subcutaneous glucose injection and we withheld food from her for what ended up being a full week, but she continued to throw up off and on during that week and threw up the first solid food we gave her (dry ID) after her fast.

She's still throwing up on a daily basis and spending a lot of time sleeping in the closet, which isn't normal. Just last night, we tried some canned food on her--Newman's Own Liver--and she actually kept that down (!!!), but she's still lethargic and not looking very happy.

Our vet just recommended a specialist, but that has me a little worried. We've already invested more than $600 in treating her and not gotten a very good result. I'm wondering how much more we'll have to spend just to confirm that it is indeed pancreatitis, not counting how much it will cost to treat it.

I'm curious whether anyone has had a cat with chronic pancreatitis and if there's anything we can do about it. I've read there are enzyme supplements you can give the cat to help it digest, but I don't think we can afford $50+ per month in medicine for a 15-year-old cat. Has anyone had good results by managing the cat's diet or by treating it with medicine for nausea?

Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Old cat vomiting daily--pancreatitis?

I don't have experience with feline pancreatitis but my Harley threw up daily also when we got him because he was eating too fast. Do you think maybe your kitty might be trying to eat too fast for her to digest it? I feed Harley watch him eat about a third then put the dish up/away for five minutes, give it to him again while watching him eat another third and then take it away and then 5 minutes later giving him the rest. That helps him to keep his food down.

Maybe the lethargy is coming from throwing up food and not keeping enough nutrients in her system?
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Old cat vomiting daily--pancreatitis?

Welcome to the Cat Forum, though I'm sorry for the circumstances that have brought you here. Do you know exactly which tests were performed on your cat, and do you have hard copies of the results that you can posts here to give us a better idea of what's going on and what's been ruled out? That would be extremely helpful. If you don't have copies of the test results, I strongly recommend you go back to your vet and get them. If you do decide to consult with some sort of specialist (what type of specialist did your vet recommend?), then you'll need copies of all of your cat's recent test results for the specialist to review, anyway.

I assume a full blood chemistry was run and that her kidney, liver, and blood glucose values were all in normal range, though you should check that yourself when you get the test results. Was a CBC run to check for infection and anemia? Was a Total T4 run to check her thyroid function? If not, you should have those done right away.

Pancreatitis, IBD, intestinal obstruction, and cancer are among the other ailments that can cause vomiting, and all require more than routine blood tests to diagnose.

Fasting any cat for more than 24 hrs is dangerous and can trigger a potentially fatal liver disease called Hepatic Lipidosis. Fasting for a week is, quite frankly, insane, and if you did that to your cat on your vet's recommendation ... well ... I can tell you with absolute certainty that if any vet ever recommended that I withhold food from a cat for a week for any reason, I would run screaming from that vet and straight to my state's vet association to file a complaint. Starvation never cured any cat of anything but viable life.

I hope you can post your cat's test results to this thread so we can see what's been tested so far.

I wish you and your cat the best possible outcome.

Laurie
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Old 05-06-2010, 09:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Old cat vomiting daily--pancreatitis?

Hi everybody,

Thanks for the warm welcome and comments. Up until yesterday, the only test that had been run was a basic blood chemistry panel at my primary vet's practice. After wondering if I was sliding down a slippery slope of medical bills for an old, sick cat, I bit the bullet and authorized an internal medicine specialist, who is affiliated with a larger hospital with more diagnostic tools at their disposal, to do a series of additional tests, including an ultrasound. (Total cost: $490). After looking over the test results and telling me that her blood looked pretty good, he said he suspects the problem is IBD or lymphoma. If money were no object, he said he'd recommend a biopsy to diagnose it conclusively, but a $2,500 surgery on a 15-year-old cat just isn't in the cards.

What we're going to try to do is give her a week with prednisolone (I think that's the name; I still haven't picked it up from the pharmacy). Since last night, she's eaten a couple of spoons of canned ID food and actually kept it down, which is good news. ID doesn't seem to have such a good reputation here, but I'm glad she's (so far) been able to keep it down. Are there other foods people recommend for cats with IBD/lymphoma?

If she doesn't show signs of improvement in a week, we'll have to decide what to do next. It's difficult to have to think about the option of euthanizing her, but my wife and I really don't want to break our budget just to keep her alive with such a greatly reduced quality of life. Spending all day sleeping in a closet or suffering from nausea, vomiting or diarrhea is not much of a life for a cat.

Edited to add: On the issue of fasting the cat, my primary care vet gave her two subcutaneous glucose injections during the week that he said would provide her with the necessary nutrients and electrolytes. She did perk up a bit after each shot. He did say there was a danger to withhold solid food from her for too long and he seemed to think a week was the absolute limit. I'll ask the internal medicine specialist next time I talk to him whether or not that fasting was a good idea.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Old cat vomiting daily--pancreatitis?

I hate to bump my own thread, but I wanted to post an update. As I mentioned previously, the internal medicine specialist feels pretty confident the cause of our cat's vomiting is either IBD or lymphoma. We started her on 10 MG of predisolone per day last night, and there was an immediate improvement. She isn't hiding in the closet, her appetite is returning and she just looks less unhappy.

She had previously been eating dry I/D food because she started having diarrhea with Iams. (Was that an early sign of IBD?) The vet told us to give her canned I/D since it's supposed to be easy on her system. She's been eating a couple of spoons of it per meal. She seems like she has an appetite to eat more, but she's not too crazy about I/D. Oh well.

She hasn't pooped in a few days, but considering she just stopped vomiting on Thursday, I'm not too worried.

Long term, I'm wondering what to expect. Can predisolone effectively "eliminate" IBD? If she has lymphoma, can predisolone treat those symptoms for an extended period? Given her age and the cost, I'm thinking we probably won't elect to do chemotherapy if it comes to that, so I'm hoping that predisolone is the only drug we need to use.
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