Your Veterinarian Can’t Fix The Problem

Have you been in the situation when your vet doesn’t or can’t get a grip on your cat’s health problem even when they are the best vets in the area? If your veterinarian is excellent but is unable to diagnose a health problem, it is frustrating and worse. Do you feel helpless? What do you do? You are on your own.

Charlie a cat with a watery eye

I am not referring to feline illnesses which are incurable and terminal. Obviously no one can fix that. What I am referring to is a cat who is not that old but who has a condition that is being treated but the treatment simply controls the symptoms but not “cure” the illness.

I wonder about these situations. Does it mean that the knowledge of the veterinary profession is limited too much? The answer to that depends on how frequently this situation occurs. I have a feeling it is not uncommon.

The problem may not be about the limits of knowledge of veterinarians. It may be about cat owners being unprepared to spend lots of money on diagnosis. The tools to diagnose feline illnesses are in place but are cat owners prepared to spend their money to use these techniques and facilities to get to the bottom of health problems?

The reason why I am discussing this topic is because my cat Charlie may have a piece of grass in his nose but he may have cancer. His left eye waters. He had a bacterial infection in his sinuses but antibiotics fixed that. The infection may have been caused by a foreign object. It is not clear.

I am waiting and watching to look for signs that help to clarify why his left eye is watering, Wouldn’t it be more comfortable to know why his eye was watering and to fix it?

I have not skimped on expenditure. He has had dental treatment (2x) and X-rays. His nose has been flushed out etc.. The X-ray was inconclusive. It may be cancer but the only way to confirm that is to wait for a swelling on the face to appear. Is this a good thing?

I am waiting and wondering whether he’ll just die on me. I wait for him to fall over gasping for breath or making a weird sound, the sound of death. Is this good enough?

Have you been in a similar situation?

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Your Veterinarian Can’t Fix The Problem — 30 Comments

  1. Wow, yes. My cat Oreo has noisy breathing since kittenhood and even scoping his throat showed nothing remarkable as the cause. (my dog is also having breathing issues)It’s incredibly frustrating to wait for a new symptom to arise that will hopefully help diagnose them. I’m grabbing my camera often and photographing/filming symptoms and emailing them to the clinic. It’s hard to spend all the money on diagnostics only to come up with no answers, except to rule certain things out.

  2. I had a Bengal with a similar eye problem which the vet diagnosed as being caused by grass seed getting in there. The problem with that is she had never been outside. It slowly progressed to the stage of having difficulty eating but never-the-less ate a lot but continued to lose weight. She was finally put to sleep as that seemed to be a typical case of cancer somewhere in the cranium. She was finally skin and bone. Some grass seed! The Vet was useless.
    Then there is the case of Isadora who had chronic diarrhea. The lab results came back, candida albicans fungus and trichonomas. This is typical of a human patient, and anyway the treatment with Flagyyl didn’t work, so it was obviously a lab mix up. I then discovered switching to canned food (no carbohydrates) stopped the diarrhea. She was alright for while but then got very thin with a distended abdomen. The vet said she had abdominal gas! Not a very clever diagnosis when she was all skin and bone with a distended abdomen but weighed 4.30 kg. That was obviously liquid a clear sign of feline infectious peritonitis. I started her on dexametasone ant-inflammatory medication 10 days ago , and she is doing pretty good now. She has been like this for 4 months when most cats with effusive FIP die quickly. Maybe she is going to be one of those extremely rare cases of a cat surviving FIP. She is lively and noisy again and jumps around quite happily. When she starts putting weight on again without the bloated stomach I will know she’s made it. Anyone who has to rely 100% on the vet is in deep trouble.

  3. Firstly I am so sorry to hear about Charlie. It must be horrible for you watching and waiting….. if you can’t bear it what about a specialist?
    I know its not quite the same but when Mr Jinks broke his leg in 2 places 1 break was in his shoulder so the vets the CPL use couldn’t simply plaster because it wouldn’t have stayed on. They operated and he ended up with an ex-fix and cage rest.
    We had booked to go away so after 3 weeks my friend had him for a few days but we had to come back early because he had escaped his pen (sad to say was my friends fault for not following simple instructions) and the ex fix had moved so he had another operation to take out one of the pins.
    All I seemed to get from the vets between Xrays etc was we can’t do anything else the fracture is too unstable. We can’t re-position the ex fix or remove it for the same reason. They relied a lot on Xrays.
    It healed eventually but was crooked and his leg splayed out when he sat and walked.
    Just to note the CPL paid for all his treatment.

    Well the vets pushed me towards amputation all along but I was regularly in touch with the CPL so when the vets said only other option would be a specialist and they recommended one the CPL said yes because he had already been through so much they wouldn’t amputate. we just wouldn’t give up.
    The specialist kindly operated; everything included for £800 instead of £1500. When I took him for his referral the specialist said the fracture wasn’t unstable at all it had just healed crooked. He said ‘If this was straight I would be sending you home’.
    Well he did the surgery which was nearly 8 weeks ago now, Jinks has a plate and 8 screws and he hasn’t looked back! The specialist was amazing and Jinks is incredibly lucky I’m so glad that we didn’t listen to the vets and end up opting for amputation.

    I know I’ve gone around the houses to explain but basically the vets (not specialists) have a general knowledge; not a in depth one and I don’t think they like complicated surgeries (the specialist said when he operated he had to carefully peel a nerve off the bone that the vets had left there!) Luckily Mr Jinks suffered no nerve damage. I also know that you can’t get the whole picture from an Xray so what I’m saying is sometimes your vet just isn’t up to it.

  4. I am really sorry to hear about Charlie and this kind of situation makes me terribly sad and afraid every time. Specially when people like me have to carry on with no vet service. It is always the instinct that goes ahead and saves the cat or just bye bye with that innocent fellow. 🙁 not to say more but can only pray some thing positive to come out of the CURE, ofcourse. Ameen.

  5. Poor Charlie! Poor Michael, as well. It is probably worse for you as you are so worried about him. It could be cancer. Then again it could be nothing. It is so easy to imagine the worst and assume it must be the worst. I will pray for a good outcome. All is not lost. Stay hopeful, Michael.

    • Thanks Ruth. I do imagine the worst. Some nights when he is very quiet, either next to me or in the next room, I think he has died (just me being pessimistic). I’d like to get a handle on this, one way or the other. We are both in limbo and I don’t like to see him in discomfort. Although it is slight. Thanks for the prayers.

      By the way Ruth, have you received the cat food for review?

      • I have not received it yet, Michael, unless it is on the front porch. I’ll look today in case it was delivered there. We always go in the side door, so sometimes I don’t notice packages on the porch. I haven’t been home much.

        If Charlie were at death’s door he would be refusing food and water, he’d be lethargic, and you’d see other signs, such as in his coat, he’d have weight loss and he’d be weaker. Our bodies, cats and humans are remarkably resilient. Even if he has a tumor, he could live with it for a very long time. There are some MD’s who feel cancer should be treated as a chronic condition, and managed like diabetes. Dr. Whitcomb does a presentation on healing cancer with food. Of course, that’s for humans, but the concept is valid.

        When doctors operate and remove a large tumor that is often the death sentence for a person because that large tumor sends out chemical messages blocking other rumors from forming. It is often after surgery to remove a tumor that cancer suddenly metastasizes. This is what happened to my friend Ingrid. The large tumor encapsulated is not necessarily a bad thing, especially as it keeps other tumors from forming. Remove it and any little tiny bit of cancer anywhere in the body suddenly spreads like gangbusters.

        Are there medications for cats that help slow the growth of cancer? There are for humans. Can the nutrition advice to help humans manage cancer work for cats? Maybe– and it gives you an area of research, something to look at. Dr. Whitcomb says we all have some cancer in our bodies somewhere, but we also have built in mechanisms to fight it. He is all about strengthening the body’s natural defenses, rather than doing surgery and chemo in all cases.

        Cancer grows more slowly in older animals and people, so being an older cat is in his favor here.

        This is even assuming it’s cancer. Maybe he got something in his eye and it scratched it so that it’s irritated.

        I would keep watching all indicators of health, not just the watery eye, and research cutting edge ideas about managing cancer as a chronic illness in humans and see what there might be applied to cats. It might be a dead end, but you will at least become very educated about cancer, assuming that is the cause.

        If that cat food Monty is to test is made in China I am sending it right back to them. I know how to look at the bar code to check and that will be the first thing I’ll do.

        Hang in there, Michael and try not to worry. The God who made you both knows how much you love Charlie and He holds you both in His hands.

  6. Some vets always paint the worst scenario, then when it turns out not to be cancer the client is so relieved they think the vet is wonderful.
    A watery eye doesn’t mean cancer, it could just be a chronic condition, if Charlie is eating and acting normally he isn’t about to die on you.
    But no it’s not good enough not to know and to have it cured. We are in the same boat with Jozef’s allergy, our vets all just want to happily hand out steroids to ‘keep him comfortable as he is 13 years old’
    That’s not old! He’s full of life. We’ve weaned him off the steroids and he still coughs and sneezes at times, when he’s been washing, it’s as if he’s allergic to his own fur! There seems to be no solution for that either.
    I don’t trust vets at all these days, when our Bryan did have cancer, 4 vets missed it until it was too late.
    Come back the old school vets who listened and examined and diagnosed without tests which are useless and inconclusive half the time.

    • You are so right all around, R.
      Gone are the days when a vet relied on actual examinations, listened to what the caretaker was saying, and didn’t have false test results to rely on.

      I don’t feel that Charlie is at death’s door either. There are thousands of causes for a drippy eye. You could go through a multitude of more inconclusive tests and keep your blood pressure off the charts if that is what you want.

      But, for me, the bottom line is my assessment of whether a cat of mine is suffering or not. It wouldn’t matter if I had a diagnosis of cancer, renal failure, liver failure, or anything else. The absolute medical rule is “look at your patient and not the numbers”. If he’s healthy looking otherwise, eating, drinking, and seems content, leave him the h-ll alone. The stress is yours and not his.

      • Exactly Dee! Jozef’s coughing and sneezing don’t bother him at all, we didn’t want him on steroids for life, if he could choose I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be in danger of the side effects from them.
        It’s a fact that many tests are inconclusive but they all make more money for the vets no matter that you often have no definite result.

    • Sorry to hear about poor Jozef’s allergies. I wonder if this is one of those situations where it would be advantageous to give a cat a bath, to get whatever is in his fur out. I can picture in my mind Jozef enjoying a dust bath outside, and you just wonder what exactly he’s rolled in that could be causing the sneezing. Maybe even just wiping his fur down with a warm damp cloth would help. But I suppose you have already done that.

      It does seem like professionals today (and not just in the medical profession) cannot think for themselves, cannot figure out any new problem, cannot put facts together and draw a conclusion. We hear constantly in the field of education that we must get beyond rote memorization and teach higher level thinking skills. It’s not working. I think we’re teaching nothing. That rote memorization stage is where you start and we’re acting like you can skip it. We have students in science classrooms behaving as if they have scientific knowledge, but they don’t really know what they’re doing. It’s all style over substance– they look busy, but there is no substance and we’re raising a bunch of dunderheads.

      I’m listening to Charlie Sykes on the radio right now, so I am reminded of his numerous books criticizing education today. He made that point that kids are taught to behave as if they have knowledge, but we never get around to actually imparting any.

      So we have medical professionals who are unable to put together signs and symptoms and come up with a correct diagnosis. We have automobile mechanics who know only how to hook the car up to the computer, and if that doesn’t give them the right answer or the whole picture they have no idea what is wrong with your car. There is no higher level thinking anymore. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or a complete lack of ability to think creatively or do research and put facts together to come up with an answer.

      In at least half the cases I think it is pure laziness. People come to work and just phone it in, not caring, just wanting to get through the day and be done with work. There used to be a lot more pride taken in a job well done. There used to be a lot more empathy, an understanding that the animal or human in their care is precious beyond words to someone, so it is vital to get it right in providing care.

      • Yes we wipe him down with a warm damp flannel if he comes in dusty, but being a great lover of the outdoors and coming in and out a lot of times a day, bathing him wouldn’t do any good.
        His allergy doesn’t bother him at all and I’m hoping he eventually becomes immune to whatever it is that sets him off. It could be anything!

        • You are so right, R.
          You scare me.
          Just like humans, cats can “outgrow” allergies, asthma, and a number of maladies.
          Immune systems kick -ss!

          • And steroids kick immune systems out of kilter!
            Yet we could just go and get repeat prescriptions every month, no check up. It worries me how many cats are on those pills just to keep the clients happy and to look as if the vet is doing something to help.

            • Exactly, R.
              How many people just deal with their hayfever without medical intervention?
              They just learn how to cope/
              Cats are even better at coping.

    • Sometimes I think that the veterinarians don’t want to deal with complicated stuff and they just dish out medications to control it. I feel that they want to deal with easy stuff because the easy stuff makes them more money. A lot of people can’t afford treatments and surgery for the more complicated stuff and therefore vets don’t really want to be bothered with them. That leaves concerned cat caretakers in the lurch. I would have thought that they would be unable to diagnose Charlie’s illness with more certainty than they have. And I have excellent vets,

      • Perhaps I will have to kick myself down the road, but you have escalated Charlie’s drippy eye to cancer.
        Actually, look at him. Is he suffering at all? Or, are you?

  7. Sorry to hear about charlie.. I had a similar problem with my 16 yr old cat goldberg..

    he started having a runny eye in january of this year and the vet said allergies.. gave me an eye drop. ( Im a pharmacy tech) I know lots of meds and their effects.. well about 2 weeks later he started to develope a lump in his eye socket. it got begger daily.. I took him again to the vet.. they pushed on it real hard and said cancer.. he will have 24 hrs to live.. my husband begged them to give him an antibiotic, if he was gonna die anyway, it would at least feel like we tried to fix it.. 4 days later the lump was gone…and he was still normal.. eating bathroom, everything was the same, normal.. slowly he started to cry a lot.. and he was walking alot and I noticed his legs shakeing and twitching., like nerve ticks.. even at night he couldnt sleep (neither could I ). he started to act like a roomba vacuum.. roaming around the house, falling into things and when he got to a wall would turn around and go another way til he hit something again.. he did this all day and night.. forgetting he was eating and walk away etc.. I finally had to put him down because I couldnt spend the $4000.00 on ann MRI that told me his tumor (if thats what he had) was growing on the inside now.. he went to the rainbow bridge to wait for me on july 28th, today is the mark of one month he has been gone… I wish I knew what he had, and Im still feeling like there was more I should have done to save him.. but the vet was stumprd.. I just didnt want to see him suffer.. I couldnt tell if he was in pain.. I pick him up and he purrs. but he did stop doing some of the daily sitting in the sun stuff.. so my cat was drippy eye to cancer too…. so they say..

    • Wow, that was painful reading but I read all of it Marianne. I am worried about my Charlie. I believe he is dying. And I watch and wait which is hard.

      I am sorry about your loss. Thanks for sharing.

      • Michael ask for a second opinion! Don’t just watch and wait, we have lost 2 cats in the past because of trusting vets, one we thought was the best vet ever!
        Any caring vet shouldn’t mind you seeking a second opinion, ask about seeing a cat specialist, don’t just wait for Charlie to die, you will never forgive yourself.

      • Ruth is right, Michael. Stop the watching and waiting if you are so concerned.
        Go to someone who will give you a conclusive answer. It’s better to know than let our imaginations run amuck.

    • Marianne you couldn’t have done more! Sounds to me as if Goldberg had a brain tumour, we lost a 3 year old cat like that, many years ago, it was inoperable at her age and almost certainly in your cat’s case too.
      Don’t feel guilty, you did the kindest act letting him go.
      R.I.P Goldberg x

  8. Michael..Goldberg was a very special kitty. How I got him in the firstplace was a miracle in itself.. my brothers cat had a litter of 4 kittens, One night the power went out and oneof his kids got a candle to check on the kittens under the bed.. the house caught on fire..it was a total loss… the next day when the firefighters were sifting thru the ashes they heard a meow comming from the bathroom area.. they lifted the charred toilet seat and there was a golden kitten under the waterline, with only his nose sticking out to breath.. they scooped him up and handed him to my brother.. (very smart cat)Well now my brother doesnt even have a place to stay but lost all the other cats, even the parents.. so my brother asked me if I could watch him til he got on his feet again, so I did.. it took 2 years for my brother to get into a house etc.. by then im attached to this wonderful gold ball of fur….we had a wonderful full life together….. he sits attop the mantle in a beautiful gold guilded box beside my best firends urn…Treasure all the cats out there that has some medical issues..love and cuddle and hold them every minute you can, when they are gone its like losing a child, ( he was just about the same age as my youngest son)… I would live to see a pic of charlie. never forget him, thanks for sharing your story.

    Ruth.. I will probably always feel guilty of not spending the money for them to tell me what was probably the facts..you said it.. tumor, im sure of it… he was 16 yrs, and couldnt live thru another surgery. he had many kidney surgerys.. very expensive kitty, but treasured every minute of his love..thanks for the support. I do hope to think I did the kind act.

    • You truly did the right thing Marianne, spending all the money in the world couldn’t even save a very ill old cat. Putting Goldberg through more tests at his age would have been very stressful for him and not changed the outcome.
      x

    • Sandra, you must have missed the post. He was euthanised because he had a tumor behind his right eye. It was a hell for me but I could not see him suffer anymore. It happened about 7 months ago.

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