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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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advice on sick stray

I have been helping feed a TNR stray at my apartment for about 2 years now. He is a really nice and easy-going guy. Recently, he has become ill. About a week ago, he started dragging his hind legs. I am not sure what happened to him, but he started to improve after about a day, and his appetite was great. I brought him to the vet where they did not find any broken bones but they found a slight pleural effusion (fluid on his lungs). To evaluate it further, they said they would need some pretty costly diagnostics like an echocardiogram and what not. I had already spent $300 on him, and I was not sure how much more it would take to diagnose him. Even then, the vet said it might be from lymphoma since he had never been checked for FeLV, and there would not be much to treat him with that was not really expensive. They gave him a pain shot (Medicam), and then I took him back and let him go.

About 3 days later, it seemed like he recovered and was jumping, running, and going up stairs. Just suddenly 2 days after his "recovery," he is back in the same state, dragging his hind legs and barely able to move. He has shown no improvement after 2 days, and his appetite is now gone completely. He has not eaten and drank water for at least a day. I took him into my apartment overnight for some good rest and a dry bed, but this morning he painfully dragged himself over to the door and started yowling to be let out. When I opened the door, he immediately dragged himself out and has just been sitting outside because I live at the top of a flight of stairs, and he cannot make it down. I have left out a bowl of water and some dry food, and I rolled out a chair with a tablecloth over it to cover him from the rain. He seems to be much more comfortable outside, but he yowls still on occasion and yearns to be back at his romping grounds, even though all he has been doing is hiding in some bushes.

He is such a lovely cat, and I cannot bear to see him like that. Given my limited financial resources, I think I probably will need to put him to sleep to save him from any further distress, but I was hoping someone would have other advice.


I have posted in another forum and contacted the local humane society (no response), so that I can get the maximum input.


Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 01:26 PM
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Aww, I'm so sorry you're going through this. Firstly, thank you for taking care of him. Many people would not even bother. Metacam is a great NSAID for pain and inflammation, but it's only temporary. It's used to treat a variety of conditions (arthritis, cancer, etc.), but would need to be given regularly to be effective. And even then, it's just a treatment, it's not going to do anything to prevent/cure the underlying condition. If you can afford it, you could give him Metacam ongoing to help keep him comfortable as long as possible since, as you mentioned, further diagnosis will cost quite a bit, and you could end up finding that it's terminal in the long run. There are some risks giving it long term though.


Honestly, if he's stopped eating, and is hiding, it sounds like he's preparing to die. It's natural for cats to hide in the wild (to avoid prey) if they are ill/near death. If it were me, I would probably make the decision to end his suffering in a humane way.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 02:14 PM
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OP, I personally would either wait to hear from the humane society to see if they might be able to help, or have him out down. If he's friendly and ok with human contact I'd be tempted to bring him in, but only if I had no other cats who could catch what he has (assuming it's an illness).

...Emilyatl I'm going to have to disagree on the Metacam. Metacam is extremely dangerous for cats and is only recommended, by the company that manufactures it, for use as a one time shot after a surgery. You can do a search online and find way too many stories about perfectly healthy cats being put on Metacam for as little as three days and having severe complications. Sometimes it works out, but to me it is absolutely not worth the risk of kidney and liver failure.

There are other antinflammatories (sp?) that can be given to cats that are safer, they might not work quite as well, but the risks are lower.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 02:41 PM
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My Mom's cat has been on oral Metacam for over a year for arthritis. She tried other NSAIDs (Rimadyl and another one) that didn't work for him, and Metacam works the best. He does take Denosyl to support liver function and gets bloodwork pretty regularly. I did mention there are risks using it long term. There are definitely plenty of other anti-inflammatories (most of them do have liver/kidney risks when used long term) that could be used as well. I just mentioned this one since he had a positive response to it...
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 02:55 PM
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I'm glad it's working for him, but it's still not something I would ever recommend.

There aren't any NSAIDs (to the best of my knowledge) which are recommended for cats, but vets seems to really like prescribing metacam. It is an antinflammatory as well as pain relief, so that's likely why.

However, a quick search for 'metacam use in cats', or 'metacam side effects in cats', or something similar brings up a whole lot of horror stories, websites devoted to educating the public, ect.

I'm a firm believer that everyone should educate themselves before making a decision, and part of that process means discussing concerns with your vet. The other factors, for me, are the age of the cat, the severity of the issue, and how well that medication works.

If your moms cat is elderly, no other meds have helped, and the medication really increases his quality of life...yeah I might go for it too. But for a young cat, where other options haven't been tried yet...I personally wouldn't go for it. JMO.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 03:01 PM
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Completely understand, and agree. My Mom's cat is 18. She's tried a number of homeopathic remedies as well as prescriptions, and it's really the only thing that's helped him be active/comfortable (he actually acts like a kitten on it). He had bloodwork done beforehand to make sure he didn't have underlying liver/kidney issues and gets it checked pretty frequently to make sure it's not causing other problems.

I'm definitely not trying to "push" it, I just recommended it based on the fact that he's already had it and had positive results. I would never recommend going to a vet and saying "please put my cat on this drug longterm", I'd always discuss best options, etc. I also suggested that because she was reluctant to go down a long road of costly diagnostic tests...

Steroids can also be used, but they come with their own risks. Long term use can make them more prone to infections, etc.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice guys. After discussing with a neighbor that feeds him too, I think I will go ahead an euthanize him. All this discussion about Metacam kinda makes me feel guilty. He was getting better and I gave it to him anyway. I can't help but think that that is what put him under. I know injection NSAIDs (Toradol specifically) are the most common cause of renal failure in young humans. I had no idea meloxicam was so strong.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 03:47 PM
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I thought he got better on the Metacam, then he reverted back to where he was after it wore off? I didn't realize you were thinking that was the cause of his decline. The only instances of renal failure I've heard of are when repeated injections are given, too high doses of the oral medication are given long term, or bloodwork is not done beforehand to ensure liver/kidney issues do not exist. Unless he had some serious underlying liver/kidney issues, I can't see it causing renal failure from just one shot. I would not blame yourself for this.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 05:30 PM
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It sounds like you have gone above and beyond for this cat. Life is hard outside and for him it may be coming to an end. Your care helped him live longer and if this is the end so be it. I would not recommend spending any more money at this point.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2013, 05:44 PM
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Emily, I read this and think you have been a kind person that went further than many spending your money for a stray. Please don't feel guilty about the Metacam. My cat has gotten a shot because the vet recommended it. Most medicines have consequences and doctor's just use what they think is best. We don't always agree. No matter what seems to happen with our fur friends, we question what we did wrong. Rarely is it black and white. I don't envy your decision and future action but I know you are doing it because you care.
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