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Thread: Please Help!! Cat Can't Breathe!!!

  1. #1
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    Old Post (Cat Can't Breathe!!!)

    I have a 12 year old Maine Coon cat who started making deep rumbly sounds while purring about 6 weeks ago. I took him to the vet and they prescribed 2 weeks of Clavamox drops. He got worse and had begun wheezing and struggling for air. I brought him back and they did xrays, put him under anesthesia and looked at his larynx but couldn't see a mass or anything. They thought it might be his teeth so I had them cleaned and two teeth removed. He got worse. Then I took him to a different vet who had endoscopy equipment and they put him under anesthesia and looked at his esophogus, larynx, trachea and couldn't find anything. They prescribed a 10 day treatment of antibiotics (zithromyocin) for a bacterial infection in case that was it. After 10 more days he was even worse. I brought him back and they put him under again and examined his soft palette carefully and did more xrays and found nothing. They ran a fungal blood panel and sent it off to the lab and we are awaiting results. They sent blood off for a heartworm test too which came back negative. He has been on a high dose of prednisone for about a month now because without it he cannot breathe. I give him a 5mg tab in the a.m. and a 5mg tab at night.
    Even though the fungal panel results are not back yet we are desperate and he is running out of time so the vet prescribed an anti-fungal medication called Fluconazole (about 180.00 for 15 days). I started him on it a few days ago. He is also now on Furosamide to alleviate any edema around his heart I think? It seemed to help yesterday but today he is doing terribly.
    I know that the prednisone can make a mass shrink and hard to find if there is one but it's a catch 22 because I think he'll die without it. Of all 4 doctors from the 2 hospitals that have seen him, none have them have seen any evidence of a mass and all have looked.
    Does anyone out there have any ideas of what else my cat could be dealing with? I'm open to any and all ideas at this point. Thanks.
    Last edited by Emeraldgreen; 09-12-2008 at 11:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    I have a 14 year old cat, Mollie Rose, who had years of breathing problems, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion. I put her on Chlortrimeton every other day. It worked for a while but she became immune to it.

    I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with kitty asthma. They put her on Zythromax and Prednisone. I told the vet I was concerned about the long term side effects, i.e.,liver problems, etc. She told me that at her age, it's more important to keep her comfortable and happy. I gave her the Prednisone and Zythromax and she's been fine.

    I was going to have her sinuses x-rayed to see if she had any polyps but she was way too stressed out at the time. Since her problem has cleared up, I'll take the wait and see attitude.

    Did your vet put her in a nebulizer to help clear up her breathing? Just curious.

    Good luck with your kitty. Please keep us posted on her progress.

    Rest In Peace Casey (Bubba Dude) Your paw print will remain on my heart forever. 12/02
    Mollie Rose, you were there for me through good times and in bad, from the beginning.Your passing will leave a hole in my heart.We will be together "One Fine Day". 1994-2009
    MooShoo,you left me too soon.I wasn't ready.Know that you were my soulmate and have left me broken hearted.I loved you like no other. 1999 - 2010See you again "ONE FINE DAY"
    Maya Linn, my heart is broken. The day your beautiful blue eyes went blind was the worst day of my life.I only wish I could've done something.I'll miss your "premium" purr and our little "conversations". 1997-2013 See you again "ONE FINE DAY"

    DO NOT BUY WHILE SHELTER ANIMALS DIE!!

  3. #3
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    That is something you could try - some Vicks-type stuff and a vaporizer.

    CT scans will give a much clearer picture than x-rays, but they are expensive. Did they xray the lungs also?

    If you can find something to just treat the symptoms, that might be the best, until a cause is found.

    BTW - zithromax is an anti-viral.
    "Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get." -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  4. #4
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    can't breathe...

    Thanks for you responses. None of the vets have used a nebulizer so far. I might try a vaporizer but it's not so much a stuffed up sound but more gasping and struggling to swallow and get air into his throat. He has no discharge from his eyes or nose and has never had a fever for this whole ordeal.
    I've spoken to the vets about the possibility of laryngeal paralysis but they say it is very rare in cats and nothing was picked up during the endoscopy that would have shown that.
    That's strange about the zithromax. I was sure he told me it was for a bacterial infection. If it wasn't, then we haven't tried to treat him for a bacterial infection yet though I thought we had. I'm starting to get dizzy with everything we've tried.
    Does anyone know if symptoms worsen while treating for a fungal infection before they get better? Maybe he is worse because he is on day 3 of fungal meds?!?
    All I know is I have to figure something out soon or I'm going to lose him.
    Our house that we moved into a year a few months ago does have some moisture issues and we're trying to find someone to replace our leaking roof but all the roofers are too busy until late fall. I'm wondering if my cat can't breathe because of our house. It's raining today and he is dramatically worse today as well.
    I'm even thinking of renting an RV or something to put him in so he's close by but not in our house. I just called a few places and they rent for 200.00 per day. Yikes.

  5. #5
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    I don't have any ideas which have not already been posted. Welcome to Pet Talk. I am sorry you had to join us in a crisis, but glad you found us. There are lots of folks here with experience to offer and share. I hope you find a solution for your kitty soon.
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  6. #6
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    Any possibilities I can think of, it already sounds like both vets have considered: collapsed trachea, asthma, tumors, heartworm, etc.

    Some info on feline heartworms. They are a bit different than in dogs, including the testing for them.

    Feline Heartworm Society

    However, heartworms do not need to develop into adults to cause significant pulmonary damage in cats, and consequences can still be very serious when cats are infected by mosquitoes carrying heartworm larvae. Newly arriving worms and the subsequent death of most of these same worms can result in acute pulmonary inflammation response and lung injury. This initial phase is often misdiagnosed as asthma or allergic bronchitis but in actuality is part of a syndrome now known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).


    Not that you haven't already spent a ton of money on tests, my only other suggestion would cost probably as much, but may provide some answers. Have you tried taking your cat to a specialist, someone that deals specifically with respiratory problems? One of your vets should be able to refer you to one that may be more familiar with this sort of thing.

    I can understand how helpless and anguished you must feel. It's awful to see our furry friends suffering and not know how to help them feel better. I hope your kitty gets better very soon and is with you a long time to come.

    RIP Dusty July 2007 RIP Sabrina June 2011 RIP Jack 2013

  7. #7
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    It might be the stuff in your house...check with your vet on TRYING an antihistamine for allergies. Just to see. If he is on Prednisone, he can't use Benadryl, but there is another Chlor Tripolon type that you can use. You can use the human stuff - just get the right dosage from your vet.

    Also - do you have an ionizing air filter? Bionaire makes one, and there are others - they are not too expensive, and can clear the air in a room in a couple of hours. It would be good for humans also! If he is ok with it, put him in a bathroom or small room with this running, and see if it helps.

    I understand that Clavamox was an anti-bacterial medication.

    ETA: I agree with Catlady about getting a referral to a specialist. My mom did that, and it resulted in fixing the problem. Her cat had bad sinus stuff. Your kitty may not need surgery. It is amazing the things specialists pick up on!
    "Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get." -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  8. #8
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    My mom and dad had a Maine Coon previously. They also have a maine coon now that is a kitten.

    We were told that the breed is susceptible to heart problems. You mentioned fluid around the heart.

    Have they checked the heart for more problems??

    Tiny, my dad's original Maine Coon, passed away from congestive heart failure. I know that isn't good news, but he was on the same heart medication that my father was (my dad has heart problems as well).

    Can you find out whether it is a heart condition, and whether medication for congestive heart failure, or whatever the issue may be, could help???

    I'm not saying that that's what your Maine Coon has, but I wanted to make you aware of what we found about the heart condition problems that is common for that breed.
    Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
    -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  9. #9
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    Thank you so much for the fresh ideas. I was starting to feel absolutely hopeless but now I have some new things to look into! I will call my vet tomorrow and ask about the Chlor Tripolon (someone else also mentioned that in a reply to my post) and give it a try providing he thinks it's okay to mix it with the 3 other drugs he's on.
    I will look into the ionizing air filter tomorrow and set it up in our smaller bedroom with him in it and see if I can get any improvements. I have another cat with asthma who shares a room with him so they would both benefit from it I think.
    We are finishing some repairs on this house (including the roof) and then we are moving, hopefully by October. We are going to build a small cabin that is nice and dry so we and our pets will have a healthy home. We are trying to make this one healthy too so the next people and their pets don't have to suffer.
    I did just try to use a humidifier with him under a sheet but he seemed quite uncomfortable and I didn't want to force him so I stopped. I just thought that maybe his nasal passages might be stuffed on top of his throat problems and it would help but the added moisture seemed to be bothering him. It was probably a bad idea anyway.
    I will also look into the possibility of a specialist. Who knows, maybe it's a sinus thing with my cat too?!? I'm desperate for a diagnosis. It's very hard grasping at straws while each day he gets worse. I've already spent 3,500 and he is worse than when I first brought him in 6 weeks ago.
    I did have him tested for heartworm last week and the results came back yesterday as negative so that has been a big relief.
    The vet did give me ivermectin to give to Tiger but I didn't want to give it to him until the heartworm test results came back. The vet gave me the ivermectin because he thought this all might be due to lungworm or roundworm. He also gave me a heavy duty steroid to give to him 24 hours before and 24 hours after the treatment to help him if he has a serious inflammatory respiratory response if he starts throwing up worms. I was going to try it in a few weeks if the Fluconazole (anti-fungal) wasn't having any effect but he has been doing so poorly I have to make some decisions now. Thanks again everybody. If you think of anything else, let me know!
    p.s. Your help means a great deal. I just lost my 6 year old cat Charlie 6 days ago at the vet. He was having a lump removed and he died unexpectedly while recovering from the anesthesia. I was so devastated and wished I had just let him live with the lump. He was a happy and healthy guy with a lump. Anyway, I'm determined not to lose Tiger.

  10. #10
    This is so frustrating for you, I'm sure. I know you say they checked her esophagus but my Yodie breathed like that to the point where my son called her Darth. She actually rattled when she breathed and she had no discharge anywhere. Turns out she had an ear polyp that grew into the back of her throat. This sounds so much like that but you say the tests showed nothing. I don't like the sound of the possible congestive heart failure. That could also cause that type of breathing. I'm so sorry not to be of any help.
    Blessings,
    Mary



    "Time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all." Ecclesiastes 9:11

  11. #11
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    Do see a specialist ASAP.

    HUGS to Tiger...and I am so sorry you lost Charlie.

    HUGS!
    "Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get." -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  12. #12
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    Thanks Jenn and Medusa, I'm so glad I found this forum. You guys are giving me more to think about than 4 vets have in 6 weeks. I know they have been trying their best as well but it has been very trying.
    The ear polyp thought did come up with one of the vets. They haven't been able to pick up anything on the xrays or by manually looking at the ears. He has always been very sensitive about his ears, especially in recent years and never wants them touched. They always looked very clean but when he was under for the endoscopy the vet said she pulled alot of debris out of one his ear canals from deep down. She said it looked as if the debris had been there for a long time and she was amazed at how much she found. She seemed to think that if there was a polyp, there wasn't much to be done about it, at least at their hospital. Did your pet have the polyp removed? If so, was it a very involved surgery? Was your pets prognosis good after the surgery? Any details would be very helpful. I will also look it up on the net.
    Jenn, your idea of congestive heart failure is interesting. No one has suggested it so far and I had not known about it being an issue with maine coons. I didn't get him from a breeder or anything so I'm not to familiar with the breed except that I think they are wonderfully regal and beautiful. I found him living in a snowbank near Montreal living as a stray. He is a big cat and the 'boss' of the other cats.
    I have a video of him having breathing difficulties on youtube that I put up there for my vets to see. Are we allowed to post links on this forum? If so, I can post the link if anyone is interested in listening to him breathing. These videos were taken last week. He is worse now though and has a 'whistling' dry sound coming out these days. It's very scary to listen to and he keeps looking at me as if he is saying "do something!!" I feel terrible.

  13. #13
    Yes, Yodie had laser surgery done on it and she came through it fine. By the time I rescued her, the polyp was quite visible, though. It was growing out of her ear and down into her throat and was literally strangling her because it was the size of a silver dollar. She was so thin because she couldn't eat and could barely swallow. The problem w/polyps is that they usually grow back but Yoda's surgery was over 2 years ago and she's checked regularly and so far the polyp hasn't grown back. My vet instinctively gave it a tug and he feels that he got the root of it. Polyps aren't always easy to detect but, as I said, in Yoda's case hers was because it had grown to such proportions. It can also grow into the sinus cavities and/or affect the sinuses to the point of causing breathing problems, too. I really hope your kitty doesn't have one but if she does, the sooner it's removed the better. Not all vets are qualified to do it. My vet is a specialist in that type of surgery; I lucked out there. If you have any further questions, please feel free to PM me.
    Blessings,
    Mary



    "Time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all." Ecclesiastes 9:11

  14. #14
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    So, this rumbling sound and the whistling....

    Is this coming from his chest or is this coming from the head/sinus area?

    My dad's one cat, who had been a stray, also had something called Lung Worm. He definitely had rumbling in his chest from that. It sounds gross to have worms in the lungs, but the vet said strays who ate rodents etc... were susceptible to it.
    Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
    -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emeraldgreen
    I have a video of him having breathing difficulties on youtube that I put up there for my vets to see. Are we allowed to post links on this forum?

    Yes, people post links to websites and youtube all the time.

    RIP Dusty July 2007 RIP Sabrina June 2011 RIP Jack 2013

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