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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20840
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat is finding it ver difficult to breathe.He is 15 and

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My cat is finding it ver difficult to breathe.He is 15 and the vet gave him antibiotics and steroids on Friday but he hasn't improved.He is very scared looking and has lost over a kilo in weight in the past few months.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

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

I have to say that I find your lad's situation as concerning as you do. If he has had treatment to address bacterial infections and steroids to reduce airway inflammation and is no better, then he is in a precarious position.

Can you tell me if his vet has checked any bloods or done an xray?

Are his gums nice and pink or pale/white?

Can you take a breathing rate for me (just count his breaths for 10 seconds + multiply that number by 6)?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We had him with the vet on Friday as he had the same thing a few months back.He had the same treatment back then and he improved very quickly but seems a lot worse this time.He hasn't had blood work done yet as the vet said he would have to have a lot of tests done and to try treatment first.He is a difficult cat to even get to the vet as he gets very stressed trying to put him into the cat box.As regards ***** ***** he wouldn't let me open his mouth as he would tear me.He has very rapid breathing and is all hunched up.I can't get near him as he is hiding under the kitchen table.He has gone off all food and water today but I managed to get some milk into him.I know prob not the best thing to give him but he enjoyed it.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you,

The milk is the least of our concerns and I wouldn't even worry about that. The reason he is likely off food/water at the moment is because he is having to expend all his energy and attention to breathing (and as I am sure you can appreciate eating/drinking would take away from that focus). In this case, even though it was fair enough to try treatment with him, we can both appreciate that this has not been enough for him this time and in his current state the situation is becoming dire. This may be because the condition is further progressed this time or that it is another issue all together.

Just to note, when we see these kinds of signs, our top concerns will be his heart (and heart failure), his lungs (infection or asthma which may have responded to that treatment in the past but also lung tumors), and his blood levels (since anemia can prevent proper oxygenation of the body and lead to similar signs). And no matter which of these is to blame, if he is breathing faster then 20-30 breaths per minute, then he is in respiratory distress (which sounds the case from your description) and while I appreciate he's not a great cat to take the vet, I'd be concerned that if you don't get him to the vet urgently and at least get him on oxygen (so he can breathe easier), he may fatigue breathing this abnormally and could collapse and crash on you this weekend.

In this situation, it is unfortunate that he has not responded to the treatment your vet has tried. Unfortunately, if your lad is in respiratory distress, then he needs urgent intervention. At the very least, he needs to be put on oxygen at this point. Once he is more stable, depending on exam findings (listening to his heart lungs, checking his gum color), you may want his vet to xray his chest to let you see what is causing his inability to breathe normally. If he is very pale, then bloods may be indicated to confirm anemia and try to pinpoint the cause for it. And if they act quickly, it will give him the best chance of recovery and survival from this.

Overall, this is a serious state for your lad. A failure to respond to treatment means that this may not be the same issue or that condition may be much worse. In any case, if he is so distressed that he cannot do anything but sit and breathe, then we need to act quickly to give him a chance to overcome this or at least let him go without any more suffering.

Finally, just to note in case you were keen to have him seen today, some veterinary practices in our country have office hours today. As well, I wanted to mention that most veterinary practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients even when they are not open. Therefore, it is worth ringing the practice. If they are open, you can get him seen now. If they aren't, then they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their out of hours service.

Please take care,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank You for your advice.As I said we did have him with the vet on Friday evening and this stressed him so much getting him into the cat box that it worsened his breathing.I can't bear to see him suffering the way he is and I do think he is near his end.The vet hinted at this but my husband brought him up and wouldn't make the decision without talking to the rest of the family.I will ring the out of practice emergency service and see what we can do.Thank you again for your advice.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome,

I do think that is the best course of action under the circumstances. And if he hasn't responded to treatment, then it may be a situation where we do have to consider letting him go rather then putting him through extensive testing (that will likely stress him even more). So, it is worth ringing them now, and perhaps they may even be able to come out to him instead of stressing him by bringing to the clinic.

Take care,
Dr. B.
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