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Ataxia/toxoplasmosis/feline leukemia?

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  • Ataxia/toxoplasmosis/feline leukemia?

    We adopted a feluk positive kitten a year ago, previously went through it with two cats who acquired it as adults and were lost to anemia and wasting.

    This kitten has had off and on irritable-bowel type problems, originally horrible diarrhea which finally calmed down. Her belly was tender around 6 months ago, specialty vet mentioned lymphosarcoma as a possibility because of her feluk status. She has been wormed repeatedly and treated with metranidozole.

    What I thought was belly discomfort occurred again this weekend, local vet gave her some antacid and we started metranidozole. This morning I found her ataxic and terribly wobbly behind. The emergency vet says it could be toxoplasmosis OR a tumor on the spine. X-rays are normal.

    We are treating with Clindamycin for possible toxo, and prednisone in case it's a tumor. I'm not inclined to put her through exptensive, painful testing because there's not much they can offer even if they figure a cause.

    My question is whether anyone has any experience with toxo, ataxia, or spinal tumors, and eventual outcomes from the first two? I've been through vestibular issues with a cat that created all-over ataxia and which eventually cleared up, but this is confined to her back legs.

    Here I've been keeping an eagle eye out for anemia, but this is out of the blue. I knew I was taking on a kitty with a shortened lifespan when we decided to keep her, but it's always too soon. Thanks for any ideas.

  • #2
    Metronidazole, at too high a dose, or given for too long, can cause neurologic signs as a side effect. Did you discontinue the metronidazole?

    I'd also worry about treating with pred without knowing if there really is a tumor or not. Inhibiting an already severely compromised immune system does not seem like a good idea to me without a diagnosis. Also, many spinal tumors are PAINFUL. Is the kitten in pain, or just ataxic?


    • #3
      My kitty developed neuro symptoms that came on hard and fast, and long story short tested positive for toxoplasmosis. We started him on clindamycin but it progressed very very fast and despite all efforts (feeding tube, etc) he died. However, the vet did say that not all toxo cases are the same, and my cat's was really bad.

      Good luck, so sorry about your kitty. Wish they could talk.


      • #4
        Many many jingles for the kitty

        I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

        R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed


        • #5
          I've just been dealing with what turned out to be giardia. We were trying metronidazole, and it did nothing. I've been doing a lot of research, and some may help you if it is toxoplasmosis. Apparently Bengal cats have issues with this. This might help you:

          I tried sulfa on my cats, and it is nasty and the cats hate it. It is also REALLY easy to OD. I had the same neurological signs you have with sulfa drugs.

          I don't know if this is helpful or not, but there are some treatments that vets don't commonly know or use that breeders do (see the other thread I started on Panacur.)


          • Original Poster


            Thanks to you all for your thoughts on this. I'm sad to tell you (who am I kidding, sad doesn't cover it, I've been crying for two days) that we had to let the kitty go this morning.

            What started out as some vague-seeming abdominal discomfort Thursday and Friday became nearly complete rear paralysis by Sunday night. I could have handled caring for a permanently paralyzed cat, I'm that attached to my four-legged family members, but she was having increasing pain in her back and hurt so much whenever we moved her. The Clindamycin and prednisone didn't seem to be helping.

            Without putting her through tests to confirm spinal lymphosarcoma (and the big cheese vet specialist said easily $3000 for starters), the increasing pain and rear paralysis seemed to confirm that diagnosis with her feluk positive status. And treatment for this condition is said to result uniformly in a "poor" prognosis of a few weeks to fewer than 6 months. Not to mention the mental trauma to the cat.

            So we tried to jam in lots of good quality lap time in a couple of days. Astonishment all round at how much it hurts to lose a kitten that was with us for only 10 months. I am comforted that her condition was beautiful, she wasn't soiling herself and still had her dignity. I've been very guilty of letting things go too long in the past but this was about right - I might have taken her in the previous night but then we wouldn't have enjoyed those last several quiet hours together saying goodbye.

            Thought I was pretty well read on these medical issues but spinal cancer associated with the feluk virus was a complete surprise to me, as well as the speed at which it came on. At least she got almost a year of the best food, private lodgings, lots of playtime with us, and treatment of her various medical issues as they came up.

            I greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak about this episode on this forum, and hope that our experience might be helpful to anyone else who runs up against this. Had I known what to look for, I might have caught the spinal pain earlier. Guilt, guilt.


            • #7
              I am so sorry for your loss. Bless you for taking her in in the first place - most FeLV+ cats don't have a lot of options, and you gave her a wonderful, comfortable life for those 10 months. Please don't feel guilty - you did all you could for her, and it sounds as though you made her last hours the best that they could be.

              Hugs to you - you will be in my thoughts.

              Adams Equine Wellness


              • #8
                I'm very, very sorry for your loss. I'm also grateful on behalf of Kitteh that you opened your home and heart to this small special soul.

                Personally, I'm grateful that you started this thread because I've learned some things I didn't know that are applicable to my animals' situations.
                ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                • Original Poster

                  You are much appreciated

                  Thanks for the comfort and kind words - it has been another one of those learning experiences - I've been meaning to get that bumper sticker that says "Oh no, not another learning experience!". Or there's that famous quote by Dorothy Parker - "What fresh hell is this?".

                  Went to my favorite statuary place today to buy a little marker for her - we have the luxury of being able to bury our pets at home (including two horses, though our little town's elders don't know they're out there - shhh). It really does bring comfort to make their resting place beautiful, and somehow there's always a statue or plaque that is just right - an expression or pose that is a perfect fit. Like the "Beware of Cat" plaque for our little tabby who ruled the house with an iron paw from the time the kids were 3 and 6 until they were in their 20's.

                  And one more bit of medical business for BeenThere - I was given some empty, clear pill capsules to use for my CRF kitties for their pepcid and whatever else we were trying - for those really nasty-tasting meds in pill form you put the pill bits inside with a little dab of laxatone or other tasty gel on the end of the re-closed capsule and it goes right down. No more gagging or frothing. Not sure if the sulfa comes in a liquid, but seems people take it dry?

                  And I'm glad that this information has been helpful - many years ago on the Lightning Strike pet illness board a vet contacted me to say that the way my vet had me dosing my poor cat for her hemobartonella was causing her extreme distress - she looked like she was ready to die and actually it was the meds being administered in one dose a day instead of four smaller doses. The change did the trick and she lived another 12 years. Albeit with feline leukemia - I was too dumb at that time to realize that hemobart probably indicated that she had caught feluk from her best buddy, the stray male who brought it into our home. Yes, another learning experience, dammit.

                  Thank you all.


                  • #10
                    I'm sorry for your loss


                    • #11