By Ruth aka Kattaddorra
There are many things that affect cats in our modern world, more traffic for example which means that in busy places it’s dangerous for cats outside.
But there are also dangers inside too and because of products we use, cats with allergies are becoming more common.
One of our cats Jozef, started a sneezing type of cough in January which got worse and although we were booked in to see the vet later in the day we took him in as an emergency earlier when he coughed non-stop. We thought he had something stuck in his throat.
The vet examined him and found nothing wrong but booked him in for the following day for an anaesthetic to X-ray him and look more deeply down his throat (see also this page on anesthesia and cats). She took blood for all the tests they can do and gave him an antibiotic/steroid injection. Later she phoned to say all his tests had come back clear.
Next morning he was better but she had emphasised that it was important he went in for the day. They found nothing wrong at all but a tiny red patch in his throat and he had a course of antibiotic tablets which put that right.
In July when the weather was very hot he started his sneezy cough again, also scratching at his head a lot. We comb him twice daily as he is prone to hairballs so we knew he had no fleas.
We saw another vet, the first one had left, this one found nothing wrong and gave him nothing, it was almost as if she thought we were making his symptoms up. We saw a different vet when it got worse, he found nothing either but gave us Metacam for Jo. Well after reading what it was really for and the side effects we didn’t feel happy about giving him that.
It was almost as if Jo was allergic to his own fur because after he washed, he coughed and his hairball problem was much worse. So we saw another vet, thankfully this one listened to us carefully and believed us and after she had thoroughly examined Jo and found nothing wrong apart from a bit of a red throat caused by coughing up hair, she said she thought it was an allergy.
Apparently it’s very difficult to pinpoint what cats are allergic to, there are hundreds of things it could be, indoors and outdoors too. His bout in January must have been something in our house, although we are very careful to use only eco friendly cleaning products and never when our cats are around, we don’t wear perfume or use air fresheners, we will never know what caused that bout.
Many cats are allergic to certain foods too, it’s a long process trying to eliminate everything causing their allergies and almost impossible anyway as it could be more than one thing.
But Jozef’s this time was probably something outside, a certain type of grass, pollen, trees, something in the air, the list is endless. So our vet said they can only treat the cat’s symptoms and hope it clears up their allergy and that the cat becomes desensitised so it doesn’t return. She is a very English vet who understands the importance of cats needing to go out to have good quality of life, if it’s at all possible. She told us that the night before she had been up at midnight helping a neighbour get their cat out of a tree. It’s nice she loves cats as much as we do.
‘Of course if this medication doesn’t help we will have to do some x rays and tests under anaesthetic’
‘Er hello, he had those in January!’
‘Oh sorry, me bad, I hadn’t realised’
She then looked back in his records.
So now we know what we suspected all along, the tests more or less pushed on us then were far too premature, the treatment should have been tried first before putting him (and us) through all that trauma, not to mention expense. That vet had left the practise shortly after, she was obviously one who felt she had to meet her target, which we found out since that vets are expected to do, by some employers. Thankfully, some refuse to do that.
Now we are glad he did have those tests because we knew there was nothing serious lurking but as this treatment is working he wouldn’t have had to go through them at all.
He’s much better and off the antibiotics and down to half a steroid tablet every second day then it will go down to every third day and so on until he’s off them altogether. They have to be tapered off, not just stopped suddenly. Hopefully his allergy won’t return, he’s a nightmare to take to the vets and a nightmare to give tablets to also.
The moral of this story is to always question if invasive and expensive tests are really necessary without trying the treatment first! Always persist, don’t be brushed off, we know our own cats best and we know when something is wrong. Seek a second opinion…..and even a third …..We have lost two much loved cats in the past because of vets unable to diagnose their problem in time and which was why we changed our vets practise to the one we use now and thankfully at last we’ve found a good vet there who we can trust.