Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2009, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

Hi everybody, I'm new here and desperate for opinions/advice. I rescued an adult feral "Lexi" 3 years ago; she's been living inside with me and my 2 cats ever since. She's approx. 7 yrs from what the vet has said. She is socialized to the point where I can pet her back and use a brush on her back (she'll purr all the while), she'll stay by my feet when hungry, lay on the couch a couple of feet away from me, but i cannot pick her up, touch under her chin, or medicate her. Here's my urgent problem - she developed these horrendous ulcerations/lesions in and on both her ears this month. I was able to find a private duty vet tech who came over and got her in the carrier and I took her to a vet. The tech has been coming here daily to medicate her (sometimes 2x a day). Anyway, it seemed as if she was getting better, but then the lesions came back. I ended up taking her to a veterinary dermatologist who said she believes it's Pemphigus (an autoimmune skin disease), but can only definativey diagnose with a biopsy of her ear. Here's the problem - she'll need to wear an e-collar for 10 days. I can't see her handling that at all. I have her biopsy scheduled for this Thursday am. I am considering having her stay at the hospital for the full 10 days until the collar can come off, since I don't see anything else working out. I believe she'll go nuts with the collar on, and also, I won't be able to get it back on her if she takes it off, or gets her mouth under part of it. Do you all think I'm being cruel? I'm mentally struggling with this, and have even asked the doctor if she could laser or cauterize the area instead, but she said that Lexi will still need sutures and the collar. I just don't want her getting hurt and the hospital is staffed 24/7. Am I doing the right thing? I'm concerned with her quality of life but also want her to get the correct treatment (which means a biopsy to diagnose). She's already had skin scrapings and cultures, etc. Please guide me - do you think she'll be completely traumatized when I finally get her home?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2009, 10:52 PM
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

Welcome, and what an awful thing for you and your cat to go through. She is very lucky she found you to take her in.

IMO, since you cannot safely handle her, I absolutely DO think it would be the best thing, the right thing, to leave her at the vet hospital so they can monitor her while she has to wear the collar. They are trained in handling reluctant cats and since the clinic is staffed 24/7, they can monitor her constantly.

Another thing...you may just find that when she DOES come home...that her attitude towards you will change for the better. She has been living happily with you for several years and then she spends a traumatic time away from you in a strange place she doesn't understand, but when she comes back HOME to YOU...she may think of you in a different light.
When my two feral fosters had to be spayed, I was still working on taming them. When they came home from the vet after 2 days away, their attitude changed towards me dramatically! I was able to handle them in any manner, move quicker, speak louder, kiss their heads/faces/noses and they remained comfortable and didn't dash off like they used to do. I finally feel the last barriers came down and they are finally ready for the adoption process to find their forever homes.
Good luck with your kitty, you are being a very caring and responsible meowmy to her.
Heidi



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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Heidi

Thank you Heidi, I really needed to hear that I was doing the right thing by her, especially since people have told me that what I was doing (the days in hospital) were going to be torture for her. I cannot wait for a diagnosis and treatment! Kathy
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 01:24 PM
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

You are absolutely welcome, but don't kid yourself; it isn't going to be a picnic for her to be in such an unfamiliar place. The thing to remember is it is NECESSARY for her to be able to get the type of care and supervision she needs to allow her to be treated and heal. It is going to be very difficult for you, because you know you have sent your kitty away to a scary and unfamiliar place. Keep in mind, the goal of her coming home, and how much happier she will be to have RETURNED home! ...and I hope you see a dramatic difference in her attitude towards you and that she will show you love, thanks and appreciation for "rescuing" her from the 'scary place'. ...it works that way because she doesn't understand it was you who sent her to that place... Hey, I'll take anything that helps me make positive progress with my cats!

Good luck, you really ARE doing what is best for her. Let us know how it goes, I would be interested to hear how she does.
h



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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-05-2009, 01:34 AM
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

I agree with Heidi, I think leaving her at the hospital is the best thing for her under those circumstances. I had a cat with Pemphigus, Tyler my bridge kitty, so I know what you are going through. He practically lived in an ecollar because he obsessivly over groomed as well, because of the pemphigus the doctors thought. His also stared in his ears then spread. The good news is that they do make soft e-collars now that are much more comfortable for the wearer and are still effective at keeping the patient away from the incision. Likely, this is the type of collar they will put on Lexi. Gone are the lampshade days of yore. So you can have some peace of mind that it probably won't be as awful as you think. If she wears a collar now, this won't be much different. Its flexible and bends so she can lay down and eat comfortably. Its called a trimline recovery collar if you want to ask for one specifically.

Good luck to your kitty and let me know if you want to compare notes on Pemphigus if thats what it comes back as.
-Rachael

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-06-2009, 07:46 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do - good news!

Thanks Heidi and Rachael for your words of support! Shocking news - Lexi didn't need stitches (and so no collar) after all - I can't believe it! Picking her up this am (had her spend the night since pain meds weren't prescribed). I had asked her doctor on 3 seperate occasions about using laser or cautery and she told me each time that she'd still need stitches, so I don't know how she did it, but yea! I'm so relieved; leaving in an hour to get her. Guess we just have to wait it out now for a diagnosis. Would love to compare notes on Pemphigus. Kathy
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-06-2009, 12:11 PM
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

Whew! Isn't that nice when they (Drs) don't have to do as much as they thought they would? Certainly makes it easier on the cat and on us...
h



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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2009, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
 
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She's home! But...

Yea! Lexi is home and so happy to be here! As soon as I let her out of the carrier yesterday, she looked at me and meowed a few times, ran to look out the front door, looked up and down the hallway, proceeded to eat a 1/2 can of food, used the litterbox, drank water like there was no tomorrow, then stayed at my feet purring to be pet for the following hour, before deciding to look out the front door for awhile before crashing on the couch. Today she seems to be feeling just as good. It's funny, that upon reading what I just wrote I would "oh, that cat's a stray", but she is a feral that has come a long way, spending 3 years living with us, and 1 1/2 years of that with me living on the floor acting like a cat! It's amazing how she'll completely transform and revert with strangers.
Anyway, news so far is not really good. Her doctor called and got her blood tests back and said she has nonregenerative anemia; she thinks Lexi may have lupus or latent FeLV (since she's tested neg. already). I know her blood values have fluctuated with each (4) blood test she's had these past 2 month; sometimes moderately anemic, sometimes not at all, initially regeneratively, now not. It's making me crazy. She says I have to do a bone marrow biopsy. I don't want to. We both agreed to wait for ear biopsy result before proceeding with what to do.
How do you when enough is enough? If she's always stressed from human contact (by a vet tech coming over once or twice a day to medicate her at home, vet appts, hospital stays, etc). This has been going on since Jan 3rd. The vet's concern is that my other 2 cats are FIV+. I'm concerrned about that, too; they've been living together for 3 years now. With the exception of Lexi's ears, everyone appears fine; appetites are too good, playful, have all been to the vet just this past month, and I've read that latent infection is not transmissible. I'd be willing for Lexi to have more bloodwork and xrays, but I don't feel that going under anesthesia for the 3rd time in a month, and having pain, stitches, a hospital stay with possibly that infamous e-collar would really solve anything if she does come up positive for it; it's comfort care at that point. I'd even be willing to bring in my other 2 for blood tests to see if they now test positive (which I seriously doubt). It seems like no one understands - she is a FERAL cat; like you all know, she doesn't handle things the way others do. Any thoughts? Thanks again ladies, Kathy
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2009, 10:42 AM
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

That is a difficult situation you are both in.
Myself? Unless the vets have been able to give me a concrete diagnosis and treatment success prognonsis that is favorable for a complete (or very near to) recovery...I don't do much beyond comfort care and quality of life evaluation. It doesn't mean the feral cat isn't as worthy of veterinary care as other, friendlier pets, it just means we (the owner) have to weigh the benefits against the detractors and negative impact on the cat as an individual with special (feral/stress) circumstances.
If I cannot afford costly treatment after diagnosis or further testing...I don't see the need for continued testing and would prefer to put my energies and resources to better use of keeping the cat comfortable/happy NOW and for as long as I can before I have to make The Big Decision.

Yes, a bone marrow test is going to tell us much more...but what is treatment going to be if that test is positive for what the vet thinks it is? Can I afford this expensive diagnostic procedure? Can I afford to treat my cat with whatever the recommended treatment is after this diagnostic procedure? Can the cat recover from the diagnostics and resulting treatment?
This is where all pet owners must decide if it is beneficial (cat's health and monetarily) to continue or to retreat and provide comfort care.



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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2009, 02:18 PM
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Re: Urgent - Please help, don't know what to do

Oh I'm so sorry about Lexi's prognosis. I think though that I agree with Heidi. To put a feral cat through a bone marrow biopsy would be a bit OTT, especially considering once you had the answer, you still wouldn't have a cure. I think supportive care is best in the least restrictive environment, with the least stress possible. It sounds like she came home from the vet this time and fell right back into her routine and also that she seems to tolerate the techs daily treatments pretty well. As long as she is holding up well with those kinds of procedures, then by all means procede. She will let you know when she has had enough.

My Kobie was very ill once several years ago, and the vet suspected latent FELV. I declined the biopsy because I didn't want him to suffer that kind of pain. I took him home on meds and guess what, he recovered fully! So you just never know what is going to happen.

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