Should cat go to the vet?
September 19, 2021 10:05 AM   Subscribe

My 4-year-old male neutered DSH hasn't been feeling well lately. Vet visits are ultra stressful. Should we go?

My cat, Junipurr, has not been eating well lately (probably a third of usual?); normally he loves his food. He vomited a few days ago but hasn't lately. He has been drinking water but I'm uncertain of the amount. His poo also looks soft, maybe not to diarrhea levels, but different. I feel guilty to say, I am not sure how many days this has been going on--maybe four? I have been very stressed out with all the work of fostering kittens.

His behavior seems pretty normal otherwise. He just jumped up on the bed while I was writing this, solicited a brief pet while purring, and is now making biscuits while lying on his purr pad.

I myself had some sort of virus recently, and one of our foster kittens did as well (vomiting and diarrhea). We are both over it. The foster cats are quarantined in their own room, and have had initial vetting and are FIV/FeLV negative.

Junipurr HATES vet visits. I mean, take how much a normal cat hates vet visits and multiply it by at least several times. It is extremely stressful on him, to the point that I consider it, ironically, bad for his health to go. The last time he went, the risk-reward profile was absolutely not worth it. He had an ear itch, and the vet did not help with that but traumatized poor Junipurr terribly. He was not himself for weeks.

He has to be double-sedated to see a vet. I give him a gabapentin pill before we leave and then they will need to give him an injection in order to handle him.

I have been on the fence about taking him, thinking that maybe he just has a virus and that a vet visit would be overkill, but this has been going on for several days now and I'm worried both that the underlying cause might not be what I thought, as well as worried about him not eating much since I have heard that it is supposed to be bad for cats.

I also don't currently have a home vet for him, so I will have to choose a new one. The cat vet in our town is still not taking new clients (I checked fairly recently) and we had a horrible experience at his original vet and I won't go back. I hate having to hand off my precious cat to someone who might not care about him or help him, for the cost of intense amounts of stress for him.

I feel like whatever choice I make will be wrong. Could mefites tell me what they would do in this situation? And why?

Oh and cat tax:
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I had a cat like this. I eventually switched to a mobile vet who came to my house to see her, and I can't tell you what a difference that made. I would strongly suggest searching for one in your area. I hope you can find one.
posted by FencingGal at 10:40 AM on September 19, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Find a vet, and keep having an eye on him until you can get him in. Know the nearest emergency vet in case something gets suddenly worse. My cat was displaying some mild symptoms and we got him to the vet, but he had a huge cancerous mass that you wouldn't ever have suspected. The vet said he wouldn't have caught it in his own cat. That said I DON'T THINK THIS IS TRUE OF YOUR CAT but the point being that mild symptoms in animals sometimes only seem mild because pets can't talk to us and it can be hard to judge progression until it's REALLY bad. Could just need a different diet or it could be something else entirely.

My other cat just has to be sedated for vet visits as well (for injections and blood draws too) and I know how heartbreaking an anxious cat can be to deal with. But it's in their best interest, and they have shit memories so they will be over it pretty quick. I always put a shirt or something that smells like me in the carrier (am prepared to wash if excreted on) to help keep mine calmed. Dunno if it helps!

You're being a great owner as is, so keep it up!
posted by wellifyouinsist at 10:45 AM on September 19, 2021

Best answer: Since he's still eating and has gone days without throwing up, I'd probably book a vet visit in a couple of days from now and continue to closely monitor. If things get worse quickly (like, if he skips a meal), then I'd go the emergency vet route, but if in the next couple of days he starts to eat more than I'd cancel the vet visit and assume he just got sick from the kitten. Cats must eat something every 24hrs or else things can get serious quick with their livers, but reduced eating for a bit while sick is okay.

For whatever it's worth, last time I adopted a kitten he turned out to have a cold, and passed this on to my older cat - his appetite dipped, we took him to the vet, vet confirmed that he was just sick and his appetite should improve, which it did. Fingers-crossed this is the same thing that's happening to Junipurr.
posted by coffeecat at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2021

Best answer: If you can let us know where you live, maybe someone knows a vet who does house calls. It doesn’t seem super common but is definitely a service that exists. Good luck with your little guy.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:09 AM on September 19, 2021

Best answer: I ended up not needing it but while calling around to vets while my cat was sick a while ago, I found out has virtual vet visits? I think you might need to be an auto-ship customer (it is very easy to set up and then cancel an auto-ship). It may be helpful to triage the severity of what’s going without needing to bring him anywhere.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:12 AM on September 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I live in Frederick, Maryland.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2021

Take him in or get a mobile vet - if you can sense something is off then I would just take him in. Our vet just prescribed gabapentin for our 'very unhappy going to the vet' cat, maybe you can get them to do the same. They said to have him take one the night before and one the morning of - it's a pain killer but also a mild sedative.
posted by getawaysticks at 11:32 AM on September 19, 2021

Best answer: Keysville Mobile Veterinary Service seems to serve your area.
posted by FencingGal at 11:34 AM on September 19, 2021

Best answer: There's also Frederick Mobile Veterinary. They don't seem to have a website, but their phone number is (301) 898-3004.
posted by FencingGal at 11:36 AM on September 19, 2021

Best answer: How long have you been fostering the kittens? The introduction of new cats would cause my existing cat to react much the way you are describing.

My cat so hates the vet that his file there is literally covered in red “danger!” stickers and he has to be heavily sedated with gas to have any kind of examination. He only goes to the vet if there is a serious emergency, and in your shoes I’d definitely wait this out a bit more, and try a combo of keeping the foster kittens away from him and enticing him with indulgent food.

The last time I did bring this cat to the vet, it was because he had been vomiting for 24 hours, and it turned out he was stressed bc I had gotten a dog and hadn’t been drinking enough water. Make sure your kitty is hydrated!

Good luck; obviously I’m not advocating withholding critical medical care from a pet, but as someone who has a cat that sounds as scared of the vet as yours this is my approach.
posted by nancynickerson at 2:29 PM on September 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

It’s been pretty tough to get into the vet in many places. I’d find a new vet and talk to them and make an appt for when you can. It might be a few weeks out, and you can always cancel.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:33 PM on September 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hey there. My creative Googling power is here to help :)

how to examine your own cat gave me the Humane Society's "Is your cat sick? Try this at-home exam", as well as some other really promising links.

If you have the ability to to video/Zoom calls, then maybe a link from the vet telehealth results could help.
posted by amtho at 3:14 PM on September 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You've gotten great advice here. I would just add the suggestion to mix in water into Junipurr's wet food in order to ensure he's getting enough water. I recently dealt with diarrhea in one of the cats (allergy to shellfish apparently) and mixed in extra water to make up for the water loss. Fortiflora is pricy but I also find it helpful for digestive issues with the cats.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:57 PM on September 19, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice.

We've been fostering the kittens for almost 2 weeks.

Unfortunately, Junipurr absolutely refuses wet food. It's a disagreement I've always lost when I periodically try to change his mind. Many things would be easier if he'd eat wet food. Thankfully he will eat pill pockets.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 8:37 AM on September 20, 2021

Best answer: It's fairly easy to give subcutaneous fluids once you've seen how and once you have the needed equipment. It's worth getting good at evaluating whether your kitty is dehydrated, whether using the skin fold/elasticity test or some other method.
posted by amtho at 9:57 AM on September 20, 2021

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