What to do with a sick cat?

Our cat, Jose Canseco (named after the baseball player), is in the hospital. He was diagnosed with pneumonia two weeks ago and was put on antibiotics and some other meds. He seemed to be doing OK until yesterday when my daughter found him panting and having what appeared to be an asthma attack. He came out of it but this morning his chest was heaving and his breathing was raspy - we thought he was having a heart attack. Took him to vet #1 who thought he was in cardiac arrest and alerted a nearby emergency clinic to treat him immediately. My daughter drove him to vet #2 where his x-rays showed an enlarged heart and lung problems but he was not in cardiac arrest. He was placed in an oxygen tent.

They removed fluid from around his heart and also removed about a cup of fluid from a lung. He’s doing much better now and we visited him for fifteen minutes tonight. His breathing seems normal and he purred when petted. He just looks so pathetic.

He’ll be reassessed tomorrow. If necessary, he’ll see a veterinary cardiologist at UC Davis on Monday. The lung problem can be fixed but the heart problem may be something else…He’s only nine!

He’s a mellow fellow, a regal gentleman with thick long white hair and ice-blue eyes. He’s beautiful. He does have a genetic defect common to his breed: far too many toes. He does not have the other genetic defect, deafness. He’s an indoor cat and has been disease free.

About five years ago he fell from a loft onto the kitchen counter below. He broke a foreleg, a rod was inserted, he was put into a cast and was confined to a pen for six weeks. When he went to the vet for his six week checkup, it was discovered that he had broken the rod. The shorter part was removed and the larger part remained so that he had something to stand on. He has developed arthritis at the joint where the rod ends, but can run around on three legs with no problems.

So, how much do you invest in a cat? A cat that you can cry over when you couldn’t do the same at your own grandmother’s funeral? So far my daughter has spent about $350 and money is a concern. (Our joke is that for $350 we could get 35-1/2 cats at the ASPCA @ 10 bucks each). We love this little beggar but if he has a serious heart disease, do we go for treatment that will allow him a few more years?

To me, the pain aspect is at the forefront. If he is in pain, we can have him euthanized (as I hope someone would do for me if necessary). If he’s not in pain but faces a lifetime of heart disease and we are merely prolonging the inevitable, I see no point in allowing him to go on.

So, how do you decide? I’ve stressed my daughter’s love for this cat but I admit I have the same feelings. My daughter lives in and out of my house as if there’s a revolving door; the cat remains with me and we’ve been through some shit together. He snuggles during winter and I genuinely love the little fellow. How can we evaluate an animal’s pain?

I’d euthanize the poor cat and give another homeless cat a chance at a good life. But that’s just me.

(Actually I’d get a puppy.)

If the cat is not in obvious pain and seems content, then by all means invest what you wish to keep him going. You would do it for a human. He might just need some daily medication for his heart and lungs or a one shot deal. You’ll pretty well know if he is miserable by his attitude change and he might be miserable for a little bit until the treatment takes effect. If I were you, I would give him many chances. I have put a couple of dearest furry feline friends down, but only after finding out that they would have no chance to get better and would be in misery for days or weeks that would be left to them.

It tore me up each time.

Well, as you said, money is definately a concern. I mean, I don’t want to sound cold or anything (far from it; I freakin’ love cats), but it sounds like keeping your kitty alive for any long period of time is going to be rather expensive. I know someone who is currently paying off 10,000 dollars in vet bills. You can probably get an estimate from the vet.

What I would personally do? I’d find out what would be needed to be done for treatment. Right now, it just sounds like he’s recovering from the pneumonia, along with a fairly bad bacterial infection. Once he gets over it, he might be fine. I mean, the vet would know about this, not me. Definately consult with him/her in depth.

If it’s incurable. . .well, there are varying degrees of heart problems, I’m willing to wager. Some might require lots of treatment, some maybe little-to-none. Again, listen to the vet.

If it’s chronic and bad though…I’m with what you said. Put him out of his misery.

How old is your kitty, BTW?

…as for evaluating the pain…well, we could tell by our kitty’s meow. It was just…you’d know if you heard it. It’s the kind of meow that makes your heart break, that makes you want to hold and pet your cat and make it all better.

When K.C. (our old kitty) was nearing the end, there were little signs that told us she was in pain. She wouldn’t eat (I had to force-feed her the last day…I was young and thought she’d be fine), she hardly moved…as clichéd as it sounds, we could see the pain in her eyes. She had that meow, and our other kitty, Zipper, kept on going up to her and licking her and trying otherwise to make her feel better.

Her last night, she didn’t jump up on the bed to sleep with my mom, like she had every night for the past 13 years. That’s when my mom knew. We took her to the vet, who diagnosed kidney failure and had her put down. :sad:

We had a cat, Arana, which my wife had raised from a kitten. At a relatively advanced age she began losing weight and became very listless, although she still had a good appetite. The vet diagnosed tyroid problems and due to her age recommended pills rather than surgery. After a few months on the pills she suddenly took a turn for the worse; we opted for surgery rather than euthanasia despite the risks because of my wife’s attachment to her. She survived, and lived several more years before passing away in her sleep.

Agate became listless and didn’t want to eat or drink. Tests indicated cancer; the vet said we could take him to a specialist for further tests and treatment, but his chances for survival, even with surgery, were not good and he was in a great deal of pain. We had him put to sleep.

Several months ago we noticed a large lump on Muffin’s belly. The vet who examined her at the clinic diagnosed mammary tumors. X-rays showed that it had not yet spread to her lungs, and blood tests showed that despite her age (13 years) she was a good candidate for surgery. He quoted the cost of the surgery at $600-$1000 dollars. This was way out of our budget, but she was not in any pain so we elected to wait and see what happened.
A month later the tumor opened up and we took her back to the clinic. A different vet gave us three options: euthanasia, surgery, or non-surgical treatment which would be messy, time-consuming and probably ineffective. When we asked about the cost of the surgery, we were told $200-$300; we mentioned what we had been told about the cost of the surgery before and she said she couldn’t see any reason for it to be that expensive. She even checked her figures with the chief vet. We opted for the surgery. Unfortunately, infection set in and it turned out that by this time her lungs were affected. A week later they drained a cup of fluid from her lungs and her weight was down so much that we were given special food and supplements (in addition to three medications) to try to get her weight up. One day she started choking, and died on the way to the vet’s.
I occasionally wonder what would have happened if we had elected surgery when we first took her in.

See what the vet recommends for possible treatments. Double-check the costs before you make any decisions.

About a year ago I was faced with the same decision. I had a 18yo cat that was rescued from a dumpster as a kitten and was very sweet. We named her Straycat. She had gotten ill and I found out she was very dehydrated and had kidney failure.
They rehydrated her and got her in better shape at the vets. Then I took her home and made sure she was receiving extra attention and we basically said good bye. as about a week after she got out of the animal hospital she took off for the woods and disappeared.

Two words… Fragrant Meat.

Sorry had to say it. My cat, growing up, died from sever bleeding of external tumors right in our house, one day she was there the next not. A bit traumatic at the time, and I have been a dog person ever since. I’m not sure how, if in any way, this answers the op. Sorry again for the FM part, no filter between the asshole part of my brand and my fingers/mouth.

I went through this a few months ago with my guy. He was 14 and developed renal failure. The vet got him through it initially and it did cost me quite a bit. I was treating him at home with various medications and fluids for a while but he let me know when he’d had enough of that and I knew it was time.
It may sound trite to some but I reallly believe animals know when they have to go and try their best to tell us. Just be there for him and listen is all I can say.