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Dr. Sandy
Dr. Sandy, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 195
Experience:  Feline practitioner for over 22 years. Served on AzVMA Board of Directors
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One of the five semi-feral cats I have been caring years has

Customer Question

One of the five semi-feral cats I have been caring for several years has become abnormally sedate, slow moving, and stiff, as if in pain or ill. Jazz is a 10 year old neutered male, who until a few months ago, was an active, very dominating and aggressive alpha cat of the group. Over the last few months, his demeanor has completely changed to a quiet, lethargic, slow-moving cat who sits apart by himself now, avoiding unnecessary movement and interaction. He now spends a lot of his time either lying on his back or side, or sitting either to the side or seated leaning back with his hind legs forward and spread apart, often licking his hind legs and abdominal area. His appetite seems OK, but he no longer rushes toward or competes over the food, as before. He seems to possibly be gaining weight in the neck and chest area, although his hips seem thinner and very stiff when walking. As far as I can determine, he has not been injured or bruised to cause this. He seems thirstier than previously, but that could be due to the summer weather. He's an outdoor cat, so I'm unaware of his "litter box" activities. His eyes look distant and troubled, as if in pain or discomfort. He occasionally "huffs" as if he has a hairball or feline asthma. I treated him with Revolution for possible heartworms in May and August 3, 2015, which seemed to help the huffing. About a year ago, he had problems with IBS-like symptoms, including diarrhea, great discomfort and irritation, and frequent licking of his posterior end. His symptoms greatly improved when I switched the cats' food to Natural Ba***** *****D. I'm not sure if that is relevant to his current problem. I hope that's enough information about Jazz's history and symptoms! I would truly appreciate your advise and suggestions, since Jazz is a semi-feral cat, and a visit to the vet would be so difficult and traumatic for the poor kitty! Thank you so much!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Sandy replied 2 years ago.

Several things could be occurring. An abscess is a common problem and can cause swelling around the face or neck, as well as a fever which would leave him lethargic.

Expert:  Dr. Sandy replied 2 years ago.

Feline leukemia or another viral disease such as FOV or FIP. Are also common in feral cats. Has he been tested and are his vaccines current within this year?

Expert:  Dr. Sandy replied 2 years ago.

You have to keep in mind rabies unless his rabies vaccine is current. If he bites anyone keep him strictly contained until you can get him to a vet.

Expert:  Dr. Sandy replied 2 years ago.

If you can handle him, look him over and feel for any specific swelling. Watch his breathing from a distance while he is at rest. Rapid breathing can be a sign of disease within the chest..

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your replies! Sorry I couldn't get back to you until now, due to work and family obligations. Regarding possible neck abscesses, Jazz allowed me to scratch him all around his neck, chest, shoulders, back, and head tonight, and I didn't feel anything unusual or tender. Not sure about the rest of him, because that's all he allowed me to handle. His hind legs still appear stiff when he walks. His breathing is normal, not rapid. Also, no weight loss, vomiting, sneezing, watery eyes, biting, or dull coat. He has never been tested or immunized for anything except rabies nine years ago, when he was trapped and neutered. I would be surprised if this is something contagious, since he has been like this for at least two or three months without much change, and the other cats, who sleep and share everything with him, all seem fine...fortunately! His appetite is less ravenous than before, but no weight loss; he's still a big cat. Hope this additional information helps! Thank you so much! :-)
Expert:  Dr. Sandy replied 2 years ago.
All of the above possibilities are still possible. In addition, parasites or a metabolic problem (kidney, Inflammatory bowel disease, or pancreas, liver, heart, etc.)
If you can collect a fecal sample, take it to your vet for analysis to check for parasites.
If he were in my clinic, I would run a basic blood profile. This can be done under mild sedation if he is too difficult to handle.
I hope this information helps. If I have been helpful please accept this answer.