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Dr. Ellie
Dr. Ellie, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 370
Experience:  emergency and critical care resident
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I am an experienced rescuer. I am caring for a one year old

Customer Question

I am an experienced rescuer. I am caring for a one year old mommy kitty that has distemper. I am giving her fluids and antibiotics and trying to syringe feed her. The problem is that she has copious amounts of clear ropey phlegm and can't swallow. Is there any medication that I can give her or tips that you can give me?
The babies have been separated from her.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Ellie replied 8 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear that your kitty is so ill. Have you tried using a bulb syringe or other suction device to help remove excess saliva and phlegm from her mouth and throat?

another thing you can consider is placement of a temporary feeding tube to bypass the need for her to swallow. A tube can be placed (using minimal sedation depending on how ill she is) from her nostril to her stomach that you can put liquid food and water directly into to provide her nutrition until she is better and eating on her own. We do this routinely for patients in the hospital but if you are comfortable you can monitor her at home. She would need to wear an e-collar while the tube is in to prevent inadvertent removal and she can vomit or regurgitate it up and in rare cases, it may be bitten when this happens and become a foreign body if she swallows the piece. So while there are risks to it, if you are willing to accept these risks this can e a very effective way to provide fluid and nutrition and liquid medications until she is eating. This would be prevent you having to give an injection such as SQ fluids and take the stress of trying to syringe feed her and shove medications down her throat.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
This isn't really what I was looking for. I put in that I was an experienced rescuer so that whoever answered would understand that I do deal with sick cats a lot. What I really wanted to know was was there something specific to panleuk that involved this clear phlegm thing and was there a medication that I could use. As a rescue, running tubes can be very expensive and if the phlegm was a sign that I was losing the battle I needed to know that. My regular vet was on vacation and the rest of the staff has not dealt with distemper issues --- they are dog people -- that is the reason I was reaching out.
Expert:  Dr. Ellie replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for the clarification. To answer your question about prognosis, the only negative prognostic factors have been found in published studies are leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, hypoalbuminemia, and hypokalemia at presentation. There was one case report of a kitten that was described as having excess salivation but that kitten did not survive. Histopathology done upon the kitten's death showed GI lesions that were characteristic of panleukopenia. Im not sure that can be said to be a prognostic indicator, however as it is only a case report and any cat with the disease would be expected to have lesions consistent with panleukopenia infection. Is this the information you were looking for?

Expert:  Dr. Ellie replied 8 months ago.
Hi Renee,

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

Dr. Ellie