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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21196
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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He seems overly warm and has become especially lethargic just

Customer Question

He seems overly warm and has become especially lethargic just today (he's 18 so doesn't zip around, but he's been sitting in the same chair almost all day). I noticed the 'thumb' nail on his left hand seemed red and swollen, and he won't stand all the way up to switch positions. I think maybe he has an infection in his foot...wondering if I should take him to a vet now (12:30 at night) or if he'll probably be okay until morning.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the cat. What is the cat's name?
Customer: Gershwin
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Gershwin?
Customer: He's not up to date on his vaccinations, and this year (due to a move) he's become and indoor/outdoor cat again, after about 14 years of indoor... He's been fine in that arrangement for over a year.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He doesn't seem dehydrated yet (the skin between his shoulders doesn't seem to stay up when I pull at it, but it's hard to tell with all the fur). And I don't think he's been this way all day. I just don't want to leave him overnight and for him to get much worse...
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Is the toe sore to the touch?

Any discharge or odor from it?

Does he seem to struggle to walk on the foot?

Any breathing changes or paling of his gums?

Can you take a photo of this? If you can and post them, it will let me see what you are seeing. To post them online, you can use the paper clip icon above your text box. Or if you cannot see that on your phone/computer, just post them on any site (ie Flickr, Photobucket, Imgr etc) and paste the web link here for me follow.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay, it was tough to get him to sit still for a good picture, but I think in these you can at least get an idea. The foot seems sore (though he never likes me touching his feet), and while last night it didn't seem like he wanted to walk, this morning (maybe because of how much I annoyed him trying to give him water through a dropper) he hopped down and walked (just fine, I might add) to his water and food bowl, took a stroll outside, then came back in and actually sought out my lap to sit in. He had no interest last it already seems he's feeling better. No puss or anything like that. Just the redness and swelling like you can see. He seems less warm this morning too. More alert.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

First, I am glad to hear that Gershwin is feeling better today and more active then before. That is positive to hear; though at his age a swollen thumb does raise a few concerns. With it appearing so red and inflamed, we'd have to be concerned that he caught the thumb (my main suspicious if it is less inflamed already), that there is a non-draining abscess, an allergic reaction (if he is the kind of cat that would smack a spider/bee/wasp) or that we may have a mass (less likely but we can see tumors of the toes in elderly cats).

Therefore, further to keep him eating and drinking now that he is up, we do want to monitor this closely. While doing so, I would suggest warm compressing this if he will allow. This can reduce inflammation as well as encourage traumatic swellings and allergic reactions to settle. Just to note, you can make a safe warmer for use as a warm compress by filling a clean sock 2/3rds full with uncooked white rice. Tie it closed and microwave (approx 1-1.5 min). Before use, do make sure to shake to allow the heat to distribute before using as a compress. (If it cools, you can re-warm as required).

As well, if there is any chance of a bee/spider/wasp sting or bite, then we can reduce allergic type swelling using antihistamines. Commonly we will use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine). A low dose (ie. 0.25mg per pound of body weight twice daily) is often enough to reduce these signs over a few days. We do usually like to keep the dose low, as they can have drowsiness with this medication (just like people). As well, of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your wee one has any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medication without speaking to your vet first.

Though if we do this, monitor, and don't see it progressively reducing, then we'd need to plan to have his local vet check this for us. If they confirm inflammation or an abscess, then cat safe anti-inflammatories +/- antibiotics can be started. Otherwise, if they suspect anything else they evaluate the lump via fine needle aspiration (FNA). This is where the vet uses a needle to harvest cells from the lump. Afterwards, the cells they harvest can be stained and the identity of the nature of the lump can be determined and whether it is something that is concerning or needs more serious treatment.

Overall, if this swelling is sudden in appearance, we would consider those initial sudden onset concerns. Therefore, as long as it’s not painful now or obviously draining pus, then you can try the above to rule out those aforementioned concerns. Otherwise, if this doesn’t settle; then we’d want to have your vet sample this lump to identify its cause so that appropriate treatment can be initiated to address it for your lad.

All the best,

Dr. B.


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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. B.