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Ask the Veterinarian/Please help my cat and me.


I'm sorry this is such a long story. I want to include all possibly relevant details.

Around December 21st 2013 my cat Max (2 years old) started becoming lethargic. I took him to the vet, who noted a temperature and prescribed anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. He responded well to this and quickly reverted to mostly his old self during the 5 day span of antibiotics.

Two weeks later he started regressing again and became very lethargic again. By lethargic (in all instances described) I mean hiding behind the couch (we have other animals and a child in the house), not responding to being called or spoken to, barely purring when petted, hardly interested in food. We took him to the vet again, who again prescribed antibiotics, this time for 9 days. Again the cat seemed to get much better as soon as we started antibiotics.

Two weeks after the antibiotics stopped he started regressing a third time. We did a wide range of bloods (including FIV and FLV) for over $300 and he was prescribed more antibiotics. A day later we woke up to find him with a big abscess on this side. We went back to the vet, who concluded this was most likely from a foreign body, a grass seed.

We proceeded with a surgery of $600 to have the grass seed removed and the abscess drained. This went very well, they took out a grass seed, and he recovered beautifully again on antibiotics.

Now about 2 weeks after those antibiotics ended (rough time estimates here) he is becoming lethargic again - but in a different way. He IS responsive to cuddles (purring a lot and asking for more) and he eats and drinks lots when we bring it to him - he also lays out in the open, but will not move around.  I have tested and I can touch and move all his limbs, but when I pick him up and put him down he flinches and puts his tail between his legs (sign of abdominal pain in my opinion).

We went back to the vet today. He said he felt nothing abnormal (no growths, no abscesses, no constipation, no full bladder) but the cat had a temperature again and at this point it could be anything (another grass seed or, I think he said, FIP?). He said basically the only way to find out is another $300 worth of bloods, $200 of x-rays, and even then we might not find anything - if it is another grass seed even multiple surgeries could not help them find it as they cannot "search through the cat like it's a handbag, so to speak".

I am at my wit's end.

I should add that my fiancÚ got sick at the same time as the cat, except my fiancÚ has a brain tumour... I need you to understand we are already overloaded in medical bills (I am a sole providor now, obviously) and emotional distress. I simply do not have the means to keep ordering in expensive tests for the cat if the vet says we might not even find anything and even if they do it might not be treatable.

The cat is now again on antibiotics and slowly improving. My conscience is killing me. I feel like I should be working three fulltime jobs to fix him immediately... but even the vet says we are chasing a ghost here, there are zero indications as to what is wrong now.

My inlaws have gone as far as to say if he keeps getting sick I should be humane and euthanize him, but I feel that is very unfair over an infection - if this was an aggressive cancer, it would be a different story. Over a grass seed infection?!

I feel like there is no right answer except find rich people who'll take him in... like that will ever happen. Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have lost sight of what is fair.

Hi Nell,
There are so many other things that this cat could have that he hasn't been tested for. He could have the dry form of FIP, or Hemobartonella felis, or just a really poor immune system.

I don't believe he needs to be put down- at least not now. But if he really has something that is not curable, then that might be a bridge you have to cross someday.

But I would ask for some more specific tests, not just a bunch of random ones.  
I would ask them if he was tested for these specific things. Hemobartonella felis is a protozoan disease they get from ticks and fleas, from blood transfusions, or maybe even cat bites.

Here is one article on it:

It's pretty rare for cats to get "grass seed infections" like what your cat is experiencing, but that is here in the USA. Since you live in Australia, it might be different. It's usually a latent virus or protozoan disease that causes the kind of symptoms that your cat has.

I am not a vet Nell, but I really think that you need to have him tested for those two things if nothing else. Because I can tell you that some of these things will hide for a long time in a cat before they are discovered.

So at least get him tested for those things before you give up.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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