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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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I am very concerned orange tabby. He is 5 years old and i

Customer Question

I am very concerned for my orange tabby. He is 5 years old and i adopted him 3 years ago from a large well-known pet store. He has had on going problems since i adopted him. Had earmites when we brought him home and his balls were swollen and infected by how they fixed him. Didn't know all of this until after we adopted him. I love him to pieces but his health problems are stretching my wallet to the limit.
I spent about $2,000 getting him taken care of and put back to health. Afterwards he was fine for a few month to a year. He ended up having crystal, major digestive problems(gas, stool problems ect), his stomach swells up and gets hard in one area. (not natural at all) I took him to the vet and they couldn't figure it out. By the time they thought they knew what it was and how to possibly fix it, I was past broke and they wanted me to spend a least another grand. I really love him like a son, I swear!!!!!
A few months ago he possibly had an ear infection but they were not sure and gave me ear drops for it anyways. He leened to only one side and could not keep his balance. The medicine seemed to work. But recently his stomach started swelling again, he was limping on his back left leg, than it stopped. A week ago he started favoriting his front left leg and his stomach was swoll. He can not get up sometimes, he eats and goes to the bathroom on a regular (normal stools). He is a regular size cat whose stomach swells up unnaturally for a few days to a week. I bought him a water fountain that he enjoys but he still never seems hydrated. Also he started eating little pieces of his litter that would gather on the floor. I try to make him stop because I know it's very bad for him.
I do not know what to do? Any suggestions? I can't afford to go back to the vet and spend endless amount of money. I do not want to give him up to a shelter nor put him down ( it would break my heart). Nobody wants him because he has all these issues but he is such a sweety. I'm very concerned!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Hi there, I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with cats and dogs. I'm really sorry to hear that your guy has had so many troubles in his life. I'll do my best to help, but I'm afraid that I'm probably not going to have the key to everything, especially without being able to see him in person and review all of his records.

You said, "... By the time they thought they knew what it was and how to possibly fix it, I was past broke and they wanted me to spend a least another grand." - what was it that they thought was wrong and what did they want to do to fix it?

Did your vet see and appreciate this odd swelling that you are seeing? Any firm swelling like that merits more investigation with X-rays, an ultrasound, or possibly even an exploratory surgery to see exactly what's going on in there and get biopsies. I have seen cats with megacolon (severe constipation) develop abdominal distention in specific areas, but they always are having a difficult time defecating and are having very firm dry stools, which it doesn't sound like you're seeing. The eating of litter does concern me a little as well, in that it could indicate that he's not digesting his food properly. Odd gas distentions can happen with dietary intolerances (like lactose intolerance in people - they can get very gassy and uncomfortable) or inflammatory bowel disease. Special diets like prescription hypoallergenic diets or easily digestible prescription diets can alleviate a lot of GI troubles in cats. If we know the issue, we can suggest an appropriate diet.

Ear infections can be a random "fluke" thing - so I wouldn't be too worried if he had developed one - as long as it responded well to medications and he's over it. If they get recurrent ear infections, that's when I get concerned for an underlying problem like a tumor in the ear canal or a benign polyp. A mass of any sort in the ear canal causes repeated ear infections. However, if it resolved like you said, then it's likely nothing to get overly concerned about as long as it doesn't recur. I would definitely like to know, though, what diagnosis your vet came up with and what they wanted to do to fix it.

~Dr. Sara

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They did an ultra sound and said they really didn't see anything other than it was fuzzy close to the area in which his stool comes out. They were concerned with the swollen hard stomach. They want me to get xrays and something else (i'll look more into details soon) but it would cost me around $700.00 easily. I'm very concerned for his health and well being. But I cannot afford any of it... Not sure what I should do. I do not like seeing him like this and it is getting to the point to where he is showing he is uncomfortable. I picked him up the other day and he started crying because he ended up leaning too much on his front left leg. (he was not limping at all that day). I see how uncomfortable he has been and it is killing me. It is almost like his stomach is a ballon... It swells up but ends up deflating within a week max. If I can't afford to take care of him with these big vet bills than what can I do? I just want him to be well and happy.
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Well, the best thing to do for him truly is to follow the instructions given to you by your veterinarian since they are the ones examining him. Your vet is going to be the best resource for laying out all of your options since they know what sort of distention this is, what it feels like in their hands (ie: gas, a tumor, stool, an enlarged kidney, enlarged spleen... there a lot of possibilities). I simply cannot tell what that swelling could be without getting my hands on him during a time when you're seeing it. The shifts in size over time make me think more of potential gas trapping in his GI tract. It's a long shot, but potentially a change in diet could help with this - I'd be aiming for high protein low carbohydrate foods like Nature's Variety Instinct or Natural Ba***** *****mited Ingredient Diets.

As veterinarians, we are frequently caught in a position where we need to try "plan B" if "plan A" is something that our owners cannot afford. I would schedule a recheck exam with him at a time when he's displaying the most of his symptoms (not some time when he looks normal, otherwise your vet won't be able to tell what's going on). Be honest in that you really want to do the best for him but also lay out your limitations and ask if they can suggest any alternate plans. This is something that we do all the time. If your vet won't lay out any alternatives, then that means one of two things: either there really are NO other options, and if he's suffering it might be time to consider letting him go, or your vet doesn't have any ideas that they think are worth trying. I'm very honest with my clients when I know that there's nothing more that I can do. Likewise, if I feel something is a long shot but possibly might work, I will present that option to try. Also, try getting a second opinion at a different hospital. Simply having examinations and gathering opinions is certainly not going to be financially burdensome by itself. The exams aren't the expensive part - it's the diagnostic tests that rack up. If you're told the same thing at multiple vets, then it's likely that there isn't anything more that you can do for him. I know that you want to do everything for him, but recognize that there's financial limitations - that's not just you, trust me. I deal with this in pretty much every sick pet appointment I see - the "plan A" is the way I'd always like to go but if we can't do it, then we need to talk about if there are any "plan B" or "plan C" options too.

~Dr. Sara

Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Doc Sara