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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Question Mysterious Illness that Two Vets Can't Figure Out

Hello everyone! I'm writing about my sister's cat. On Oct 1st this past Thursday my sister called me and said that she was rushing her kitty to the vet because he came into the house howling really loud (never does this) and vomited foam on the floor twice then laid down with quick shallow breathing. She took out his carrier and he immediately went inside it (also never happens).

The vets office looked him over and said that they need to take him to the Pet ER in a few towns over so they did. While he was at the ER they did some blood work to test and see if he had ingested any ingredients in antifreeze, they did a regular CBC, a urine test and x-rays. All tests came back normal. The vet said that they could keep him there for observation or they can observe him at home. They didn't want to stress the kitty out more so they've been observing him at home since and they and the vet have kept in touch with any updates.

There are so many things that could be causing his symptoms so I'd like to get a list of tests together for my sister to suggest to the vet since two vets don't have any idea what's wrong and didn't offer anything else other than to observe him which would mean IV fluids and anti nausea meds as needed.

Here's a list of his symptoms:

- Dry warm nose
- Dilated Pupils (this is constant and in both eyes, a flashlight doesn't make them smaller)
- Head is low when walking to littler box, tail is low and close to body
- Very weak
- Shallow Breathing (this used to be rapid as well but it's slowed a bit today)
- He had one bowel movement but it was only one small nug the size of a peanut (light brown in color, not pale)
- Large amount of urine when he finally does use the litter box
-Hissed when my sister tried to put him in the carrier to take him to the vet again the following day (the vet said that he can stay home and that means he's getting better)


Today he started to sit up some and did some minor grooming. He's eaten some wet food mixed with nursery water without being force fed. He's still very weak and rarely moves. He peed outside of the litter box and each time he pees it's a lot. I suggested removing the lid on their litter box to see if that will help with that portion at least. She does have a needless syringe to force feed him with if they feel he isn't taking enough water in.

The vet should have injected fluid under his skin so he could absorb it while at home (I've had this done for one of my cats in the past) but they only gave him anti nausea meds. They did not address the dilated pupils which we feel is the most concerning. He has not vomited since that first day but any improvement he's had is minimal if things like sitting up are an improvement at all.

I know your first suggestion would be to have him be seen by a third vet but the reality is that it's extremely expensive and they don't really have anymore money especially since they're caring for a newborn baby. What I really need are suggestions for tests a vet could do to figure out if it were poison or his kidneys or if there's head trauma etc.

Some back story of this cat. He loves to hunt. The day this happened he caught two birds, little sparrows, and ate their heads. This is typical behavior for him (he wants to gain their knowledge I guess). One of the dead birds was found in front of a lily plant (my sister just told me, it's an orange Asiatic lilly) so it's possible that he may have consumed some pollen or part of the plant when consuming the bird's head. She's calling the vet right now to see if there's a test they can run on him but from what I've briefly read it doesn't say that dilated pupils are a symptom.

This kitty also has Colitis and mainly eats a wet food (and apparently sparrow) diet. It's concerning to me that he hasn't had a real bowel movement but I'm not sure if a partial obstruction would cause his symptoms. Again he hasn't vomited since so it may not be that at all.

I'll keep you guys posted with any news but if you have any suggestions on what could have caused this so he can get vet care that actually helps him that would be awesome. Thank you!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 10:46 PM
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Did they run a complete blood chemistry panel (including the tests for kidney and liver function) in addition to the CBC?


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure and my sister didn't bring her phone with her (but her husband has his so if you have any suggestions please let me know). They are back at the pet ER waiting to be seen.

Edit: She said they tested his kidneys last time and it was normal but now they are going to do a toxicity test for the lily.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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He was negative for the lily toxin. They wanted to do another x-ray but they can't afford it plus nothing was seen in the previous x-ray. Things are going nowhere fast at the vet.

While it's awesome that he doesn't have any antifreeze or lily toxins in his system, we still have no idea what's wrong with him. I'm not sure if they are able to force feed him water mixed with a little wet food to help keep him hydrated but I suggested it again.

If anyone has any clue as to what could be wrong with him please let me know. Thank you!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 01:27 AM
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I would double check the bloodwork to see if they ran liver enzyme levels and kidney function tests if you are suspicious of him ingesting something. Everything anyone (including cats) eats has to be metabolized by either the kidneys or the liver. The lily for example would have put him in acute kidney failure.

Otherwise, if it wasn't something he ate, they could do other tests (MRI, specific antibodies against certain viruses, etc.). But if you feel like they are not getting to a solid diagnosis, I would recommend a second opinion vet. Not that the first vet is bad, but because they might not have the proper diagnostic equipment and access to the latest research. This type of treatment can be typically located at Universities who have reputable Veterinary programs.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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I can suggest it but like I said they have limited funds (they have a new born baby and already applied for Carecredit with limited credit) and have already been to two different vets in different areas (not affiliated with each other).
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 03:33 AM
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The dilated pupils do sound like it could be a toxin, but there are so many in addition to lilies and antifreeze...If nothing showed in the x-ray, and the other bloodwork came back normal, I'm not sure how you'd go about trying to pinpoint what the toxin is.

Is there a chance that he could have gotten into any medication? My friend's cat once managed to eat one of her antidepressants. She said he looked somewhat catatonic, pupils dilated. She figured out what happened and took him to the vet, who said it wasn't life-threatening, but they'd just have to wait for it to pass through his system. I believe it took 48-72 hours, but then he was back to normal.

If he has colitis, he may not poop until he starts feeling better.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that whatever it was that he ingested will leave his body quietly. Poor little guy!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 05:13 AM Thread Starter
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I asked if it could be medication related. I read that Effexor could cause similar symptoms but neither of them are taking anything at this time so there's nothing of that sort for him to get into. He's an indoor/outdoor kitty so if there were something on the ground outside from a neighbor of passerby then there's no way of knowing what it could have been. Assuming that's what it is.

Since he caught two birds and ate their heads that day could that possibly had something to do with it?

Since he hasn't had a bowel movement yet and has colitis is it possible for a partial obstruction or even for arguments sake a full obstruction to cause dilated pupils? I have a form of IBD myself and haven't heard of that for humans but what about cats? I know I'm grasping for any answers at this point. Knowing what it is will obviously help us treat it faster. He's not distended or vomiting so I'm confident that he doesn't have an obstruction but this sudden lack of a BM is concerning and I'm wondering if it's somehow related. He might just be in too much pain to go and is avoiding it for all I know.

Last edited by Gwatches; 10-04-2015 at 05:16 AM.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Update: At the pet ER last night they did inject some fluid under his skin and gave him some more anti nausea medicine. Today my sister said that his eyes are less dilated and that she found his favorite stuffed animal on the floor this morning where he usually leaves it after he's had his way with it so it sounds like he's definitely starting to feel a bit better. He still hasn't had a bowel movement but they are continuing with the wet food mixed with water. He had some treats but no dry food yet.

I know that a bowel obstruction would bring on a lot of his symptoms but again I'm not aware of that ever causing your pupils to dilate so it's still a mystery at this point.
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