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Hello everybody, I'm Stella and I could use a hand.



I have been having trouble breathing since as long as my Dad and I can remember. He has taken me to the icky vets (where I get so scared) and spent so much money he could have been using to buy me presents instead, and I don't feel any better.


Here is my story so far...

I first came home in November 2011 after an airplane and 2 cars rides to meet my new family. My brother Samuel (who is in excellent health) and I were so little and scared. Our new home is very big so Sam and I spent the first few weeks home in the very warm, dry and clean basement so we wouldn't get overwhelmed.

Right after we got home we went in for our first vet checkup and received a clean bill of health. We're purebred Balinese so our Dad was very pleased we did so well. Dad and I cannot remember exactly when I started having trouble with my breathing but he was a little concerned and it was one of the issues he mentioned on our 2nd vet visit on December 2, 2011. The problem was very minor at the time and Dad didn't think much of it, I had no symptoms while I was with the vet so she didn't think anything of it either. We made an appointment for our 3rd kitten visit for Jan 2, 2012 and left, very happy to go home!

December was so fun, Sam and I got out of the basement and now the whole house is all ours! There was a big beautiful (real) Christmas tree with all sorts of toys on it, and I loved to destroy them! Sam and I are so smart and tricky, we managed to catch some chocolate toffee and a cookie! We ate part of them but they're not as good as our regular food... Sam threw up. :(

Throughout the month Dad said he thought I was having more trouble with my breathing. Sometimes I would choke like I have a hairball but I didn't have one. I would cough up a small amount of clear phlegm (icky!) and be fine after that. I also am hoarse, and you can barely hear my meow voice, which was so pretty. Sometimes Dad is afraid to hold me because when I purr I wheeze with each breath (on respiratory expiration) and it makes me choke more. By the last week of December, not long after my tree came down, I was the very worst I've ever been. I was choking 6 times a day or more and the wheezing was so bad. Dad decided I couldn't wait until my kitten checkup after New Year's so we went back to the vet early.

Dad was mad that the last vet (who should know about these things) didn't pick up anything on the last visit, so we met with a different doctor in the same office. The new vet was very good, and this was the only visit I ever had where I wasn't as scared. I was having so much fun I must have been purring and the doctor could hear my wheezing (it sounded like I had stridor too, that's a noise usually caused by upper airway obstruction). It was a good thing the doctor documented this well because normally I'm to scared when I see the vet and they cannot recreate my symptoms.

In that visit the doctor took x-rays of my head and neck and there was nothing. This made Dad and I feel so much better at first. He also gave Dad some Clavamox (an antibiotic) to put into my food. Dad was worried I might have allergies but the doctor said that this is highly unlikely in such a young kitten (I was born in June last year).

The Clavamox worked great! After only a couple of days I was feeling much better and I've never been so sick since. Dad was worried that my symptoms didn't go away completely, he would say, I'm 75% better. After the Clavamox ran out we gave it a week or so to see how I was doing. Dad and I definitely noticed I was having more trouble again so back to the vet we went...

Dad just wants so badly for me to get better and be happy and be able to purr without making my family so sad. Even though it was expensive we sent out tests for Bordetella and throat swabs for analysis. Since the Clavamox had done so well before the vet suggested a two week dose this time, just in case the first week had almost done the trick, maybe two weeks would get me over the hurdle. All my tests came back negative around the time Dad went to pickup the dose for the 2nd week. After the the last of the Clavamox ran out (3 weeks worth in total now) I was still about 75% better.

Dad is mad at the vet again now, over $1000 and I'm still not fixed! We switched doctors again to the lead doctor at the practice who Dad feels is very good, and he still hold this opinion. We visited the vet again and spent a looong time talking about my breathing. We were there so long we went through 2 vet appointments and the secretary wasn't very happy with the doctor. I was scared, so I wouldn't purr and the vet couldn't hear me, but I have a lot of medical records now so he knew my story anyways.

We discussed many possibilities, all of which are pretty remote unfortunately. After our discussions, the new doctor decided to put me on Baytril (a different working antibiotic) along with some Prednisone (used as a muscle relaxant) to see if that would help. He thought that maybe the muscle relaxant in the Clavamox was what was helping me and that maybe a full blown relaxant treatment would shed some light on the problem if the issue was related to swelling. Another theory the doctor had was that maybe I had had some damage during intubation for my spay surgery. He said that if the Baytril and Prednisone weren't doing the trick that he would refer me to an internal medicine specialist so they could stick cameras down my throat (yuck!) and check for possible damage. This procedure will be expensive, at least $600.

We started the Prednisone 4 days before the Baytril to see if that alone would have an effect. Dad said that he didn't notice that I got any better with just the Prednisone. But wowee, wasn't that Baytril nice! If the Clavamox fixed me 75%, the Baytril fixed me 90%. Dad heard my voice again, sometimes when I meowed it wasn't hoarse and even when I purred it didn't sound as bad. I would still wheeze with expiration and maybe choke a little, but I felt a lot better. The Baytril ran out 3 days ago now, and I still feel about the same, but since I still have some wheezing and choking, and since I'm usually still hoarse, Dad knows it's only a matter of time until I get worse again. Next on the agenda is to go see the expensive internal medicine specialist. Dad isn't worried about the money, but is tired of spending so much and not getting results.

Dad and I could really use some help, if anyone here has any ideas for us!

Some final information and thoughts I should add:

  • My brother Sam is very healthy and always has been. Though he explores with his mouth and has thrown up a few times despite Dad's best efforts to keep my house safe.
  • I eat a raw food diet recommended by my breeder, which she feeds all of her cats and kittens.
  • I have a good appetite and always finish all my food.
  • I get plenty of water.
  • I'm just as active as my brother Sam and we play a lot.
  • I don't get any worse when I've been playing a lot and am tired/winded.
  • I use World's Best Cat litter, unscented multi-cat.
  • My family washes the floors with vinegar and water and no cleaning chemicals are used around Sam and I.
  • My nose often sounds "stuffed up" like I need to blow it.
  • All the noises I make are upper respiratory and my lung sounds are clear.
  • When I was feeling the very worst, after Christmas, I had swollen tonsils and difficulty swallowing. This went away with the first Clavamox and never came back.
  • If I have damage from intubation why do the antibiotics help and the relaxants not?


I would like to genuinely thank everybody who reads this whole novel. I want so much for my Stella to feel better, she is sleeping about 10ft away as I type this and I can hear her breathing. She is so smart, and so sweet, and her health issues just absolutely break my heart.
 

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I don't have any idea what it could be, but I do have two suggestions.

First...I recommend that you record her when she's making the breathing noises that are concerning. This way if she doesn't do it at the vet, there is something for them to hear.

Second...I have found that if my local vet is stumped after a couple of tries, then the rest is just guess work and it's time for the specialists. If you live near a veterinary school they usually have many many specialists and all the up to date equipment. Even if you live several hours away, you could take her there for diagnosis and then having them provide treatment and follow up instructions for your local vet. I'd recommend this over a local specialist not affiliated with a school.

Good luck...she's lucky to have a dad who is so willing to go the extra mile.

BTW...have you talked to the breeder about this? I would definitely recommend it if you haven't.
 

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Thank you for the good thoughts. I will take some video of Stella for the doctors.

I live somewhat close to Cornell, which is recognized as being one of the best vet schools in the nation... can you just make an appointment to go to places like that? I wouldn't think they'd take pets just like a regular vets office.
 

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Sorry I can't give you any advice but I hope you get to the bottom of the problem.
She really is one gorgeous kitty and lucky to have such a caring owner.
 
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