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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18164
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have looked after a feral cat past 6 years. In September

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I have looked after a feral cat for the past 6 years. In September last year she suddenly ballooned in size and appeared barrel shaped. Unfortunately she was too wild to catch so I could not get her to a vet. Despite her size she still looked healthy and alert and was very active. I treated her on several occasions for worms but with no change in her appearance. I put her on a diet and mixed water in to bulk it up so she was eating less food. She wolfed every meal down even to the extent of licking the bowl clean right up until dinner time yesterday. This morning I found her dead in my garden. She looked so peaceful that I think she must have died in her sleep. She showed no sign whatsoever that she was ill and I was wondering if you had any idea what she could have died from. I would estimate that she was 8 or 9. Thank you.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. My deepest condolences on your loss. Although you knew things weren't normal with this little one I am sure that you weren't expecting sudden death.I would be highly suspicious that your little one has an abdominal mass that was slowly growing is size, thus her excellent appetite, but was not interfering with passage of food or organ function and thus despite its growth she felt relatively fine. With a slowly growing mass they tend to be able to accommodate the changes in their body because they have time to adjust to the change.Eventually even a slow growing tumor can get to the point that it ruptures and thus we see sudden death due to the rapid blood loss. This is not a painful event. They get hypoxic and tired and although some may struggle most simply faint and never wake up. It is entirely possible that this rupture occurred while she slept, in which case she was not aware at all and never woke up from her sleep.I know that sudden death is difficult on us, but truly for her it was a very peaceful way to go.Possible causes of this tumor are hepatic cysts, hemangioma or hemangiosarcoma of the spleen or mast cell tumors of the liver and/or spleen.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. The fact that I found her in her usual sleeping position in her usual place on the lawn and she looked so peaceful leads me to believe now that she did die in her sleep. To know that it was probably a relatively painless death is also a comfort. From what you say if I had managed to catch her I suspect my local vet could have done little for her. Thank you, ***** *****.
You are very welcome. I think that you are correct that even had you been able to catch her major abdominal surgery to remove a mass and the recovery period needed in the hospital would have been quite a feat, and one that may not have been possible given her nature.
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