Pet Vet: Ailing cat overdue for a visit to the vet

November 10, 2014

Several times in the past I have received letters concerning health problems in beloved companions, problems that should have been addressed well before I read these letters. Today is just such a case.

Arlene from Santa Barbara, Calif., takes care of Amy, a 12-year-old Calico cat. Amy has lived with Arlene for all of her 12 years and spends all her time inside their house. Arlene reports that Amy has had no health problems in the past but recently, over the last few weeks, she has not wanted to eat very much. Initially, she stopped eating her regular dry food, so Arlene tried a canned formula. Amy seemed to like the change and for a few days, she ate the new food. She then stopped eating the wet food, so Arlene tried a different flavor. Amy ate some for a day or two then stopped. Most recently, she was eating pieces of chicken and tuna, but over the last few days she has stopped eating all together. She is drinking water but has started to vomit after she drinks.

I know I have gone into this case with a somewhat detailed history, but I believe it is important. Amy has been showing evidence of a problem for weeks, a problem that really should have been addressed earlier. When a cat changes its eating habits there is likely a problem. I have heard many times when people say they thought that maybe their cat was "tired of the food." This is doubtful. More likely is that there is a change in the catís health.

Amy needs the attention of a veterinarian. Without the intake of food, even when they are drinking, cats can become very dehydrated. The vomiting Amy is doing only worsens her dehydration. Left untreated, this downward spiral of progressing dehydration becomes fatal, and it is a miserable suffering process. I did want to point out that the mere intake of water alone ó remember, Amy is trying to drink ó does not correct dehydration. Food must also play a role as it provides. among many other things, the electrolytes which, along with the water, provide for proper hydration.

Amy is no longer able to eat and is not taking in liquids without vomiting. She needs to be hospitalized and placed on intravenous fluids to provide the electrolyte fluids she has lost as well as keep up with ongoing needs. This is done by placing a catheter in a vein and pumping in a set volume of electrolyte solution into her body over time. While she is being hydrated, diagnostic testing will be necessary to determine the underlying cause of her lack of appetite and vomiting. After a full physical examination, blood testing, a urinalysis and quite possibly some radiographs, hopefully we will have a diagnosis of Amyís disease and thus be able to further focus her treatment to specifically address her problem.

There are many possible causes for Amyís symptoms, and any I might suggest would be conjecture. She needs immediate attention from her veterinarian for her dehydration and hopefully she is not to a point where she can not be helped effectively.




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