Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sad Cat

I realized I hadn't posted any stories about cats. I will admit they are not my very, very favorite patients (the whole claws on every foot, sharp teeth, reflexes much faster than my own, and a willingness to use all three) but this story deserves to be told. A few months ago I met an energetic kitty named George. George came in with a complaint of occasional vomiting. He seemed like a happy and healthy kitty and the owner said he was "full of life" he would just vomit every once in a while. Now of course as a veterinarian we love to have something come in the only problem being occasional vomiting. With that history we can usually narrow it down quite quickly to only two or three hundred possible causes! Because the cat seemed to be doing so well otherwise, was a finicky eater, and bloodwork only showed an increased eosinophil count (type of white blood cells usually increase with parasites and allergies), the owners opted to try deworming and changing food rather than pursue further diagnostics at that time. With instructions to get back in touch with us if things didn't improve or got worse, I didn't give the cat another thought. That was of course until a couple of weeks ago when I was requested as a doctor to look at a cat that I had seen previously for vomiting.

When George walked in, or should I say was carried in, (cats don't generally walk into the clinic on their own), I almost didn't recognize him. This previously very playful cat was lethargic and for lack of a better word, emaciated. For those of you who are familiar with body condition scoring, he would be about a 1 out of 5. According to the owners they had tried several different foods which he generally didn't eat well and his vomiting had slowly increased over the past few months. Within the last couple of weeks they reported his condition deteriorating much more rapidly. As is the case with many pet owners, economics often plays a role in diagnostic and treatment plans. This owner was no different and had difficulty making the decision to take x-rays after other diagnostics had not yielded specific answers.

Fortunately radiographs were taken and revealed a very obvious answer to our several month problem. What appeared to be a perferctly round white spot was located in the abdomen near the pelvis. When the owners were brought in to view the films they both exclaimed "It's one of those glass beads". After more discussion it was determined that he must have eaten the decorative glass bead, the kind that you may see in a vase or on a glass plate, about 2 months prior to his first visit.

Next the discussion turned to options for treatment. It boiled down to two: surgery or euthanasia. Surgery was chosen after a long discussion about complications due to the severely debilitated state of the patient.

In surgery we were not surprised to find half a dozen places in the intestine with partial constriction. It would seem resonable that all of these locations were places where the bead had gotten stuck on its several month journey through the intestines and the damage to the wall of the intestine had resulted in the noticeable scarring and strictures. The marble was removed and surgery was completed without incident.

Unforntunately George did not recover well from surgery, was unable to mantain his own body temperature, showed signs of brain damage and was euthanized two days later.