My new shelter cats have some problems
April 1, 2012 10:14 AM   Subscribe

We adopted two 6 month old kitten brothers from the Humane Society three weeks ago. In that time, we've treated them for colds and diarrhea (worms), which involved pills, powders and liquid given to them via syringe. Now we're treating them for some sort of skin problem that the vet had noticed symptoms of when we first took them in two weeks ago.

She did scrapes for mange, but those were negative. We're waiting on lab results for scabies or ringworm now.

After a bill of $600 for our visit yesterday, my gf and I are ready for this all to pass so we can enjoy our new kitties. The vet said after this hill we should be good, but we're just nervous we're looking at months of more medicine and bills. I'm posting pics of the worst spot on one of the cats, but he has 2 or 3 others not quite as bad. The other cat seems to have 2 or 3 small spots of thinned hair too, where he licks at.

Right now they're being treated with a topical cream, and the vet gave them each a pill yesterday along with some anti-flea stuff. They are indoor cats, and are otherwise very healthy looking and acting. They eat and drink well and play all of the time.

Should we continue spending money on trying to get diagnoses and treatments for all of this, or should we give them a few weeks/months of just eating the good food we feed them (high in protein) and let them get healthy and grow? I feel like I'm a cat hypochondriac (these are the first cats we've had, besides the one from the shelter last month that had a neurological sickness and had to be returned).

Their names are George and Henry, btw.
posted by rbf1138 to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, you have to deal with this now. But also yes, your vet is probably right: Once you get everything cleared up now, your gorgeous little kitties are probably good to go, and aside from the yearly check-ups you may never have to deal with any medical situations for them for years and years. Kittens (and cats) almost always come out of rescue situations (Human Society, pound, shelters, etc) with germs and sicknesses. But they almost always heal up quickly and are fine ever after. Don't worry that you'll be spending $600 every six months.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:20 AM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Actually we did. We have to file a claim for this visit, and I assume it'll cover most if not all of it. It was still a shock to the wallet to pay $600, especially without clear answers as to what is going on.
posted by rbf1138 at 10:21 AM on April 1, 2012

This is not unusual for rescue kitties. This will pass -- they'll be treated for all the crap they got at the shelter, and then they will be fine.
posted by jeather at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2012

Response by poster: It's less that I worry about paying $600 every six months, and more that I worry we wont be able to easily diagnose and treat whatever they're dealing with already. Between half a dozen pills and liquids for worms, diarrhea, skin issues, respiratory, hairballs, etc. it just feels overwhelming.
posted by rbf1138 at 10:24 AM on April 1, 2012

It could be a flea allergy in which case the anti-flea stuff should take care of it. Hopefully your kitties will be fine from now on.
posted by mermayd at 10:32 AM on April 1, 2012

The thing about rescue kitties is that they can come from very bad circumstances (as you probably already are well aware). Kittens get adopted quickly, before they've really had a chance to recover from all the bad stuff. I would be overwhelmed too, repeated vet visits are hard even if you take the money out of the equation. My feeling is that they will get over this soon with good feed and flea medicine, and be fine.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:55 AM on April 1, 2012

I'd just like to say hooray for two beautiful shelter kitties. Definitely sounds like the common junk they pick up at a shelter, though it does seem like you got the whole boatload instead of just a handful of the potential issues.

It does sound overwhelming, but I think you're fine going through the full course of all the treatments you currently have and see if that doesn't clear everything up. As long as they seem active, happy and eat their food, don't worry too much!
posted by Glinn at 11:08 AM on April 1, 2012

just eating the good food we feed them (high in protein)

This is what I'm curious about, specifically in relation to their skin problems. Are you feeding them kibble? Your handsome cats are strict carnivores, unlike humans and dogs. Here is some good information about cat diets and health.
posted by trip and a half at 11:10 AM on April 1, 2012

Something worth noting is that a false negative for sarcoptic mange is not uncommon (at least in dogs). The good news is that the little vermin cannot reproduce on humans but they may bite and cause you rashes too. (Benadryl is at least cheaper than a DMV's time and you'll know what's up.)

Also from that second link - the incubation time, from bites to clinical symptoms, can be about as long as you've had the little guys, so depending what kind of anti-flea treatment they've had, you may have already taken care of the mites (if that was the problem). If the tests you're waiting for now also come back as negative I'd consider a vigilant wait-and-see approach.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2012

Welcome to the joys of cat ownership!

I think George and Henry will be just fine.
They eat and drink well and play all of the time.

Very good! If these symptoms were combined with lethargy and/or anorexia then I wouldn't be as optimistic.

I understand you're overwhelmed, but you guys are doing a great job of nursing George and Henry back to health. A lot of new owners get sticker shock but the money you spent was absolutely necessary.

and aside from the yearly check-ups you may never have to deal with any medical situations for them for years and years

While hopefully the above will be true…I would strongly recommend making monthly contributions to a pet emergency fund (especially if you don’t have a line of credit). It’s great that you got insurance, but as you know it can take several weeks to get a check back for your insurance company, and emergency clinics often require a deposit. You can never predict your pet’s future health and you need to plan for surprises.

Pets are expensive. This year alone my guys (3 dogs, 2 cats) have cost me upwards of $4,000. Luckily I have pet insurance, but they’ve only covered about a 1/3 of my expenses (my deductable is kind of high, but it keeps my monthly payments low).

And as everyone above has mentioned, this is typically the deal with shelter kitties. Shelter life in stressful plus their exposed to a huge host of pathogens.

You made an excellent choice in choosing to adopt

On preview, this: If the tests you're waiting for now also come back as negative I'd consider

posted by OsoMeaty at 11:17 AM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I read shelter, kitten and skin problem, and just automatically assumed it was ringworm. If thats the case don't panic, it's not that bad really! It does need to be treated, and you might even get it, but even thats not a big deal. There are plenty of threads here on askme about that issue.

Just nthing that this will pass. A good diet, lots of love and of course being on the ball health wise like you're doing is what these adorable balls of fur need. You're doing good. It won't always be like this. Think of it as an investment in the next 15+ years of kitty good times. Your furrballs thank you for being such an awesome kitty-parent!
posted by cgg at 11:30 AM on April 1, 2012

There's lots of good advice upthread. Once they are over these rescue kitty problems you can generally expect good health and few problems in MOST cases; keep up with yearly visits and etc
Don't worry too much about future diagnoses for their as-yet-to-present problems down the road. A good rule of thumb in households with established pets is to be mindful of NORMAL behavior for that particular pet. So, any deviation from normal for that animal should be noted and possibly followed up on. Absent the obvious signs of disease, injury or trauma, big indicators can be appetite, eating/drinking, sleeping and elimination habits, and personality changes.
Of course this is more challenging at the moment because they are new to the family. The eating/playing stuff is good. Just get over this hump and as others have said, you'll have a good long time to enjoy them!
posted by bebrave! at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2012

Response by poster: just eating the good food we feed them (high in protein)

This is what I'm curious about, specifically in relation to their skin problems. Are you feeding them kibble? Your handsome cats are strict carnivores, unlike humans and dogs. Here is some good information about cat diets and health.

Per a great thread somewhere on askmefi, we're giving them Innova Evo and Natural Balance, without grains.
posted by rbf1138 at 1:36 PM on April 1, 2012

My mom adopted a kitten about a year ago that was in similarly bad shape. They found it abandoned in a barn, with parasites up the wazoo (some literally up the wazoo), and also with a mysterious skin condition. The vet gave us the impression that mysterious skin conditions - that is, ones that you diagnose through trial and error - are normal and treatable, even though they're a pain to figure out at first.

It took a few trips to the vet to get him all fixed up, but it's been about a year and he's a wonderfully healthy, active, beautiful cat with no problems at all.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:37 PM on April 1, 2012

commenting late on this thread, but i have had similar issues with my shelter kittens. gave them probably four rounds of antibiotics when they were less than 6 months old due to all sorts of digestive issues (and we were feeding them evo/raw the whole time). now one of them has developed a skin allergy, and apparently it's not food-related (we did an 8 week hypoallergenic rabbit diet to be sure). blood tests revealed no specific allergen. so she'll be on prednisone for the rest of her life. and part of me wonders if it has anything to do with the bouts of antibiotics they had when they were young, if it messed up their immune systems somehow and now there's this crazy autoimmune response. i am clearly not a doctor, and i don't know what it would mean if this were true. i mean, the damage has been done, right? anyway, food for thought.
posted by apostrophe at 7:44 AM on April 3, 2012

Response by poster: Well, the current problem (and really ongoing) is that they still have diarrhea, even though after 3 fecal tests they are negative for worms/parasites. We are feeling them Evo Innova and Natural Balance wet food, along with some dry Natural Balance. One of them actually just pooped diarrhea on the bathroom floor. He clearly could not hold it in.

Any ideas on what is going on here?
posted by rbf1138 at 3:57 PM on April 4, 2012

How long have they been on that food? Kittens can be made sick from changing foods, or maybe that specific one is making them sick.
posted by jeather at 4:25 PM on April 4, 2012

Could you describe the texture/color/odor of the stool (blech, I know)? Is there any blood on mucus? Have you tried switching to a bland diet and then slowy re-introducing cat food? When they're pooping is their any straining? Is the stool ever formed? Like, will there be a formed stool and then diarrhea? How long have they been eating the Evo Innova and Natural Balance combo?
posted by OsoMeaty at 7:15 PM on April 5, 2012

*blood or mucus on the stool?
posted by OsoMeaty at 7:16 PM on April 5, 2012

Response by poster: In case anyone sees this, George tested positive for leukemia today, even though the shelter paperwork said he was negative. He had been lethargic the past two days, and I took him to the vet where he had a 106 fever.

We are going to take Henry later today to get tested, also.
posted by rbf1138 at 12:18 PM on April 11, 2012

Response by poster: Henry was negative.
posted by rbf1138 at 7:47 PM on April 11, 2012

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that about George. Ugh. I don't know much about Feline Leukemia, but I thought I'd at least offer this page at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. Unfortunately, that sounds like Henry may be at risk as well as long as he continues to live with George.

I'm hoping for the best possible outcomes for all of you guys. I know this must be a hard time. You have my sympathies.
posted by trip and a half at 1:01 AM on April 12, 2012

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