Kittie Woes

Well, Vlad has had sinus problems all his life, and for the past few months has been on antibiotics to keep him all clear. We got back from Snowshoe(which I’ll be blogging about soon) on Sunday and he was not looking too well. His breathing sounded like snoring, and you could just hear all the mucus in his nose, so we made a vet appointment for Friday. No big deal, this happens with him every once on a while and usually clears up. But when I got home last night, I noticed that there were blood spatters all over the couch where he usually sleeps, and he definitely had dried blood coming out of his nose, so I decided not to wait till Friday and take him to the animal clinic right away.

Shannon mentioned there was clinic near her office, and they’re 24 hours, so we took him in. We took him to Southpaws. Well, apparently waiting at the animal clinic is no shorter than waiting in the ER. We were there for a good three hours. Anyways, they nurse took his temperature and that was fine. Finally, the doctor comes to see us. She pretty much said he may have become resistant to the antibiotics he was on, and recommended switching antibiotics(something I had been meaning to ask my regular vet for awhile), but they still wanted to do bloodwork to make sure nothing is seriously wrong, and to make sure all his organs are fully functional in case they have to give him an MRI to see what’s going on with his sinuses, in which case he would have to be sedated. The doctor also noticed he had lost weight and had reduced muscle mass, so she wanted to rule out any thyroid problems. He also got his heart X-rayed, to make sure everything was fine there, as the doctor had determined he has a heart murmur when she listened to him with the stethoscope.

So, they take Vladi out of the room to take his blood and X-Ray him. Yeah, I feel bad for the poor staff. He was apparently not exactly the model patient. We could hear him growling in the back, and it was not sounding pretty. When the nurse came back, she had him wrapped in a towel, and pretty much said: “He’s a little agitated right now”. Then she left the towel with us and said: “You might need this!”. I’ll point out that Vlad has never been known for being a good patient.

So, after another long wait, the doctor finally got to review part of his bloodwork(the thyroid part had to be sent out to a lab), and everything pretty much looked normal, so it looks like his issues are localized to his sinuses and not part of a bigger problem. Final conclusion, give him the new antibiotics, and see if those help, otherwise take him to an internist to make sure it’s not some sort of growth. So, that exam, bloodwork and X-Ray cost us $600. Oh, the X-ray also showed there was no lung involvement, so that was good news. And I’m happy to report that 24 hours later, Vladi’s sinuses are doing MUCH better, and he doesn’t sound like he’s going to drown in his own snot, so the antibiotics seem to be working. Was it worth $600 for my kittie not to suffer? Yes!

Fast forward to today. I finally get the call from the vet with the thyroid results. Yup, he has hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid gland. This is apparently quite common in older kitties(he’s 16), so I ask her about the options and do some research online. It is usually fatal, but luckily, it is treatable. Basically, I have 4 options.

1. Do nothing: If left untreated, he will probably continue to lose weight, waste away, get heart and kidney damage and eventually it will be fatal. Based on what I saw on line, it’s more along the lines of WILL, not might, and we’re talking a time frame of months here(maybe a year). This is not really an option I’m considering.

2. Medication: For now he was prescribed medication, we’ll follow up in two weeks. But, he WILL have to be on the medication for the rest of his life. Pills. And the side effects can be not so nice. Vomiting, diarhea, etc. Assuming he lives another two years, this would cost me about $500 in medicine costs.

3. Surgery: Remove his thyroid glands(not a good option for a kitty his age), and also not recommended by the vet.

4. Radioactive iodine treatment: Basically, they shoot him up with a dose of radioactive iodine. The iodine then collects in the thyroid gland, and the radioactivity shrinks the gland. This is by far the safest treatment option from what I’ve gathered. The only downsides(to some) is that apparently only a few treatment centers across the country have the capability of doing this(I’ll explain why in a second). Luckily for us,  Southpaws is one of them. It’s expensive(around $1000), and he would have to stay at the “hospital” for about 3-4 days, but it’s not just a treatment, it’s a cure.

Now let me explain all the precautions. They’re not for the health of the kitty. Based on research, the procedure if perfectly safe, and the worst risk(1%) is that he may wind up with hypothyroidism(under active thyroid gland), which unlike hyperthyroidism is not fatal. Basically, worst case scenario, Vlad might get fat. It’s one simple injection. The reason so few places do it, and he has to stay there for so long is for our protection. Yup, the kitty, his urine and his feces will apparently be radioactive for a few days. Enough so, that they have to keep him in a lead lined room, and wear protective clothing to even handle him, and especially his pee and poop.

Right now, option #4 is looking like the best option. Ahh, the things we do for our kitties.

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~ by chriggy on January 14, 2009.

10 Responses to “Kittie Woes”

  1. Wow! It does sound like the antibiotic switch could have been tried without the expensive tests … But anyway, I’m surprised as to the level of detail you went into there. Very impressive. The lead-lined room? Wow. Even Superman isn’t gonna find this kitty…

  2. Whoa, dude. I hope he feels better soon.

    Are you sure you shouldn’t get a second opinion with your normal vet? If Southpaws is one of a few places that offers that, they might be pushing to sell it. Just a thought…

  3. They didn’t push anything, simply gave me the options(they did not give me surgery as an option, which after my research is a good call) and answered the questions I asked(costs, side effect, etc..) After talking to them, I did research on it myself and drew my own conclusions. When it comes to follow up visits, they forwarded the results to our regular vet, and suggested we let them decide what tests they are capable of handling(we’ve got that scheduled 2 weeks from now).

    That being said, I’m not sure I trust our old vet anymore. The antibiotic switch should have been suggested before. Apparently, while we went to Japan, Vladi was briefly sneezing blood(Sammy mentioned it). When Shannon asked the vet about it, she didn’t really have an answer, simply gave us more of the same antibiotics. His heart murmur was never noticed(though he does tend to growl alot during exams). And when he had lost some weight, the possibility of thyroid problems was never even considered or mentioned to us.

    The sinus and thyroid issues are not related, but I’m glad we got the tests done, or we would not have known about the thyroid, and by that time it may have been too late.

    Pretty much all of the independent sites I came across said that the iodine is the preferred method of treatment and poses the least risk and best results for the cat. Southpaws never mentioned that only very few places do it, I found that out online as well.

  4. Ok then, sounds like you have it all under control. 🙂 Sorry about your vet not being trusted. I had that feeling after Samhain died, but yet I still keep going back to them – they’re convenient by being relatively close to my house, and offering evening hours. They have a 24 hour emergency clinic too that I’ve never had to use.

  5. Christian, we are hoping for a fast recovery. kudos for giving Vlad the attention you are!!

    Toby & Dani

  6. I second the kudos for the attention you are giving Vlad. Thanks for going into such detail. The condition and procedure sound very interesting. I’m glad the risk is so low and that the price didn’t put you off.

  7. Unfortunately, his sinus/eye problems are back even though he was already on antibiotics. He’s in the hospital now(since last night), and will be getting a CT scan tommorrow(was supposed to happen today, but the CT scanner broke). They think it’s either some really nasty bacterial/fungal infection, or cancer.

    I’m leaning towards infection for several reasons, but tomorrow we’ll know for sure.

    a) his eye got worse almost overnight
    b) when we took him in last night he had a fever
    c) he was unresponsive(well, he responded, just didn’t feel like moving at all) and just laying in a crawlspace when we got home last night
    c) We went to visit him tonight, and he looked and acted much better(he’s been on IV antibiotics). His eye looked less swollen, his fever is gone, and even though we were warned he would be kind of tired due to pain meds, he seemed active and explorative.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and while hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. I’ll update this with a full post once we have more info tomorrow.

  8. Rio and her humans send best get well kitty wishes to Vlad.

  9. […] in older cats, is easily treatable), and came home with us that night. You can read the details here. The new antibiotics looked to be […]

  10. […] I while back, I posted about about Vladimir’s(my cat) health problems. You can read part one here and part two here. The diagnosis was terminal cancer of the sinus. Prognosis: a few days. […]

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