Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Cat Has What?

I don't blog about them often, but I have two cats. The eldest of the cats, Lily, is eleven years old now. She's been sick, of late. Sneezing and then sneezing some more, often blowing big chunks of snot all over whatever happens to be nearby when she blows. This disgusts Joe more than anything. Joe can clean shit soup from the dogs' asses out of the carpet without blinking, but Lily sneezes and Joe hightails it outta there.

So we went to the vet a couple of times and got an antibiotic a couple of times that didn't really do much for us. The sneezing continued so Joe begged me to take her back to the vet. So I did.

We went to the North Country Animal Hospital, the same vet where I took Max last year when he had his failed jail break attempt (not to suggest that spending time in my house is akin to being in jail, of course). They poked and prodded. Thankfully, Lily, as ornery as she is, is not her sister, Jenny, the psycho hell bitch cat who put four puncture wounds in my palm during one ill fated vet visit. Jenny is the cat with the big ass red flag on her file, the one the poor vet techs probably draw straws to see who'll have to deal with her. Lily, on the other hand, is much calmer. She doesn't want to be there but she won't take your hand off to get away from you either.

Which is good because they had to take her out back to do a respiratory infection something or other test which was a swab of her eyes and throat and nose. They brought her back saying she did beautifully and since everyone still had all their fingers still attached, I counted it as a win.

The results took about a week to come back. When they did, I asked to come back in. The test they ran on Lily's swabs all came back negative for all the things they were testing for. This led the vet to suspect that my cat possibly has herpes.

"My cat has what?" I asked.

"It's different than in people," the vet said next.

"My god, I should hope so," I said.

What it is is Feline rhinotracheitis virus (feline herpesvirus infection). It is characterized by sneezing, nasal discharge, rhinitis (inflammation of the nose) and conjunctivitis. It's common in domestic cats in situations like multicat households with poor ventilation. Which is applicable here.

We also have two dogs. I might have mentioned them before, but they, at times, like to chase the cats. They wouldn't hurt the cats, not intentionally anyway, but they'll chase the cats. To give the cats a safe haven, we put a baby gate across one of the odd little rooms we have in the house. It's really more of a glorified walk in closet or something, but we put the cats' stuff in there. It does not have ventilation.

Lily spends a lot of her time in there as she is the more skittish of the two cats. Jenny, who is less fearful of the dogs, spends a lot more time out and about and meowing at your every move. Jenny does not have cat herpes.

Other symptoms (ones Lily does not have) of cat herpes include:

Coughing
Fever
Cat anorexia
Runny nose
Runny eyes

To treat cat herpes, if that is indeed what the problem is, we've been given a series of medications because there's nothing more fun than holding down a cat and a shooting a vial of meds down her throat. First, we were given steroids. Which could possibly make her aggressive and hostile. Of course, it's Lily we're dosing, so nothing's changed there. We're doing that medicine twice a day for another week (already been doing it for a week) and then once a day for a week after that, and then we step down to once every other day. Because it's a steroid, you have to step down gradually. We also have another medicine, an antibiotic that was specially mixed for us and shipped to the house. We're giving her this until mid-August. On top of those, we have to give her Lysine.

Lysine, as I found out, is a vitamin supplement. It is not, however, called Lipine, which is what I thought the vet's handwriting said so when I went to GNC and asked the kid behind the counter for Lipine and he said he didn't know what it was, so they must not have it, he was right and I should probably apologize for calling him a stupid know-nothing kid.

Whatever. Nobody's perfect.

Anyway, it's called Lysine and it's fairly common for use for cats and their mucus membranes or whatever. I don't even know. What it means to me is that I have to crush a vitamin every morning into fine powder and sprinkle it onto Lily's food. Thankfully, she doesn't appear to have cat anorexia so I don't have to force feed or (even better) tube feed her.

Do not let it be said that I do not love my pets.

So the prognosis of this cat herpes thing seems a little unclear. Some of the message boards I've looked at describe cats in really horrible sounding shape and Lily's really not that bad. Sure, cat snot on the walls is gross but it washes off (one of my super fun daily chores...clean up dog vomit and then move right on to cat snot.). Plus, she's not coughing and doesn't have any issues with her eyes or weight or anything else, so maybe it's just something that looks like cat herpes but, you know, isn't. If it is, some sites say it lasts seven to ten days, others say its incurable but treatable. Don't know which it is for Lily. I guess maybe I'll find out at our follow up appointment next month.

Should be fun.

P.S...Lily's been sneezing a lot less since we've started our newest treatment. Here's hopin' it lasts!

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