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Hello, this is Dr. Jess. I am very sorry to hear about your kitty. Has she had any testing done yet to determine the cause of the fluid in her chest? Has she had an x-ray to confirm the fluid? If the fluid is in the lungs themselves (pulmonary edema), this isn't a fluid that can really be drained with a needle. Sometimes putting an animal or a diuretic may help remove some of the fluid, depending on the cause. Pleural effusion is fluid that is in the pleural space/chest cavity surrounding the lungs, and this fluid can be drained off to make breathing easier.
If the vet said they could try to drain the fluid, they must suspect that at least some of it is pleural effusion. Draining the fluid (called thoracocentesis) can definitely provide relief if your cat is having trouble breathing and the fluid is in the pleural space. There are different things that can cause this fluid buildup, including heart failure, low protein (can be due to kidney, liver, intestinal disorders), infections, changes in lymphatic drainage, cancer, chylothorax, and more. Analyzing the fluid may help determine the cause of the fluid build up, which can give you more information on prognosis and treatment options. Unfortunately in an older cat, many of these are not going to be things we can completely cure, and not things that are cheaply treated. Here is an article with some some information for you: http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/pleural-effusion-in-cats/324
There is no real natural remedy for this problem unfortunately, and if your kitty is really having trouble breathing, you may be faced with the tough decision of deciding to go ahead with the procedure, or euthanizing her to ease her suffering. Struggling to breath is not a pleasant experience and it is not going to improve without medical intervention.
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It truly will depend on the underlying cause of the fluid and your kitty. Your vet is correct, the problem may return within a week, or it could be weeks or a month before. It truly is going to depend on what the cause for the problem is. Does your vet have any idea yet from the x-rays or your kitty's history? The fluid that they remove will help give more information as well, as to the underlying cause.