How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. B. Your Own Question
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 22463
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
Type Your Cat Question Here...
Dr. B. is online now

I had a 17 year old Siamese female. Over a couple months she

This answer was rated:

I had a 17 year old Siamese female. Over a couple months she slept more often and became all skin and bones. Her breath had a foul odour. One of her nostrils was a bit gunky. We assumed that this was due to old age. We did notice that she was drinking more often, and her litter tray was filling up with urine. She still had a good appetite, and enjoyed cooked fish and poultry. She loved basking in the sun on the patio.
She was also having difficulty retracting her claws, and we found her dangling from the bed covers. This had left her weakend, and it seems that she went down hill from then.
Last week I had to treat all my cats and dogs for earmites, I used johnsons "natural" pyrethrum - I assumed this would be safe. Within hours of applying a few drops in each ear, my Siamese staggered - she was a little weak and unsteady before, but she became worse. She remained the same for a couple of days, though she was still eating and drinking. But over the weekend she deteriorated. She sometimes walked in circles before going to the litter tray. It appeared that she was straining a little to urinate and it dribbled when she walked around. She also had some loose stool and impacted. Her eyes appeared sunken. Later in the day she refused food and water, I tried to hand feed her. She became very weak and struggled to even lift her head. About 1.30/2.00 in the morning I went to check on her and she was lying on her side stretched out her tail limp. She managed a weak meow. Her front paws felt cold - I then noticed that one of her claws was imbedded in her pad - and now wondering whether her unsteady walking before the ear drops, had been caused by this. I wrapped her in a blanket and stayed a little while, until she slept. We intended to take her to the vet the next morning - on the Monday.
In the morning we found her in another cat basket stretched out, she was twitching a little, breathing shallow, eyes even more sunken and very still - we knew she was going. I stroked her, and it appeared she tried to lift her head to look at me, but she stretched out her front legs and tipped her head back - I think this was a small seizure? About 10 mins later, we stroked her and she purred faintly, and her breathing stopped.
I am incredibly upset by this and also guilty that we did not get her to the vets. I would like your honest opinion what you believe caused her death. I have just read that it could have been renal failure. I also read that it could just be old age. Do you think the ear drops caused a toxic overload? Do you think she suffered greatly?
I am very sorry to hear about Silve's passing.

I must say that even before I got to the end of your history, I was concerned about Silve's kidneys. Kidney disease is terribly common in cats her age and often they will drink more, urinate copious amounts of dilute urine, lose weight, become weak (often due to secondary anemia as the kidneys stop producing the hormone that tells the bone marrow to produce red blood cells), go off food/water (secondary to the build up of metabolic wastes in the blood causing nausea), dehydrate (why her eyes looked sunken) and can even have neurological signs in the later stages. So, even without the history of ear drops, we have reason to be quite worried about her kidneys shutting down.

As well, as I am sure you can appreciate the kidney are our key organ for flushing out toxins and excreting drugs. Therefore she would have likely had less tolerance to chemicals like the Pyrethrins. So, while she may have tolerated them in her youth, we can see debilitated animals react adversely to these types of treatments even at normal doses. So, while the staggering and disorientation were likely the result of the drops, it doesn't sound like this necessarily was a toxicity for her (since toxicity cases often have continuous fits until passing). And it is quite likely that we would have see this same situation over time even if the drops had not been used.

Overall, in Silve's situation, I have to say that I am very suspicious of chronic kidney disease with secondary anemia causing her to become weak, go off her food, dehydrate, and fail to maintain adequate circulation (which is hinted at by her cold paws). As well, I do think she was sensitive to the drops but that these were likely only playing a minor role here. In regards ***** ***** she probably just felt progressively weak, nauseous, and tired. And as we can tell from her rapid peaceful passing in those final moments, she was not likely in pain or suffering but those organ issues likely just exhausted her body to the point of passing.

Please take care,
Dr. B.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your honest opinion. I have a 15 year old female cat - who was silves daughter. She also seems to be losing weight, drinking quite a bit and recently had a very large appetite. She has the same foul smelling breath, but not as bad as silves. Do you think it is possible that she is also in the beginnings of renal failure?
You are very welcome, Kay.

If she too has these signs, then it would be a concern for Silve's daughter as well. Other considerations, especially if she has a ravenous appetite would be hyperthyroid disease and to a lesser degree diabetes. And while kidney failure can given us an ammonia type breath with cats, we also have to consider that severe bad breath can also be due to non-related dental disease (since elderly cats can also have dental issues after 15-17 years of not brushing).

In her daughter's situation, I would suggest that a check up would be ideal. Your vet can check her mouth for dental disease or confirm if the odor smells more like kidney issues being present. As well, a blood sample should be considered to give you an idea of her organ function. Or at the very least, do consider having a urine sample checked. The blood sample can test for all our concerns but the urine sample would be a means to rule out diabetes and just make sure her urine is not abnormally dilute (a prime sign of kidney disease since the kidneys are the organ that concentrates our urine). Depending on what is found amiss, the vet may be able to prescribe treatment to help her manage and continue with whatever older age compromise is starting to impact her health.

Take care,
Dr. B.

Dr. B. and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you