The feline herpes virus also attacks owners' sanity
October 23, 2012 9:42 AM Subscribe
For months my one-eyed kitty has been battling flare-ups of the herpes virus in her remaining eye. We’ve been the vet countless times. She appears to have other issues including anxiety and possibly allergies. I’ve spent a small fortune, spent hours worrying, and most of all don’t want to be responsible for my cat going blind. Anyone else have experience with this?
posted by indognito to pets & animals (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am sorry for the wall of text below. I wanted to include all details that might possibly be relevant to the issue.
The cat in question lost her left eye to the herpes virus when she was a small kitten (I adopted her after this). She grew up with another cat of mine, and they are best pals. When I moved in with my partner five years ago she had to adjust to his elderly, bitchy cat, and she seemed to do so well enough (though we still keep them apart when not at home, due to my cat attacking her once and biting a big hole in her neck).
Her eye was fine for many years—only flared up when she got vaccinated, which we’ve more or less stopped doing for this reason. She’s an indoor cat but I take her out on a leash several times a day, sometimes for hours on my day off, due to her being extremely high-strung and desperate to be outside. Obvs, I don’t want her to roam free while unvaccinated and with a missing eye.
Things tanked this spring when my partner and I adopted a fourth cat. This cat is about nine years old, calm, sweet, quiet, very friendly towards the other cats and not aggressive whatsoever. The other cats have been reluctant to accept him, the one-eyed kitty in particular. I keep him apart from her when we’re not at home. I am quite attached to him at this point and extremely reluctant to return him to the shelter. However, ever since adopting him my problem cat has been fighting flare ups of the virus in her remaining eye. I think we’ve hit critical mass in terms of cats in our household.
Since spring, her remaining eye has been seeping on a semi-regular basis. We took her to the vet and were prescribed various eye ointments. Things seemed ok, until we took a week vacation at the end of August (during which time I forked over a great deal of money to two different friends, to have them stop by and watch the cats in an effort to maintain their routine).
Since our return, her eye has been constantly infected, she is constantly pawing at it, we’ve been to four different vets, including an emergency vet and an ophthalmologic specialist. She’s had a corneal ulcer, been in the e-collar to keep her from pawing at it. She’s been on Cidofovir antiviral eye drops more or less constantly since then, and I’ve been giving her lysine religiously but it seems to make no difference. I’ve also been spraying the house daily with Feliway.
The other possible piece of this puzzle is that she may have allergies of some kind. She’s constantly scratching despite not having fleas, and seems to have stomach pain after eating. I’ve asked the vets about this and was told to keep her on a grain-free diet, which she had already been on for over two years. She eats canned gluten-free food (Evo brand, mostly, with some Fancy Feast mixed in). I did give her a few pieces of kibble per day as a treat, but have switched to grain-free kibble after these problems began.
I’m pretty lost as to what to do next, as what I’m doing obviously isn’t working. My theory is that she is overly stressed by her life situation—house full of cats, can only go outside on a leash (for the record, I trained her to do this as a small kitten and she was perfectly happy with this arrangement for years, but in the last year or so has seemed increasingly cranky and distressed with being on a leash). Or maybe it’s something about her diet. Or maybe I just suck and should quit my job and stay at home all day to keep her entertained.
My immediate plans are to buy some human-grade lysine after work tonight on the chance that it will work better than the stuff from the vet. I am also awaiting a call back from the ophthalmologist. In the meantime, I’m wondering if you’ve successfully treated chronic herpes virus in your cat, or any of the conditions described here. Should I ask my regular vet to put her on kitty Prozac? Another concern is that the constant shuttling to and from the vet is only increasing her stress (she’s been to the vet seven times in two months--on all of these occasions I've called the vet offices asking what to do, and they've urged me to bring her in).
GAH!!! Thank you, MeFi, for any advice you may have.