Thursday, July 8, 2010

Case of the Week: Van Gough

Van Gough was a feral cat that lived in Bryan's neighborhood. A feral cat is a cat that was never socialized to humans and is therefore very afraid when interacting with people. Feral cats will eat food left out for them but usually will not allow a person to pet them or pick them up.

Bryan had noticed that Van Gough was looking thin and had a large sore by his ear. Knowing that she would never be able to pick him up and put him in a carrier, she caught him in a trap and brought him into the clinic. We injected a sedative into his leg through the bars of the trap and waited for him to fall asleep so we could examine him. He was, unfortunately, in bad shape. He was thin and scarred from years of fighting. In examining his abdomen, Dr. Karnia found that his spleen appeared to be enlarged. He also had ear mites and a large sore on his face from scratching at his ears.

A blood test showed that Van Gough was also positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus suppresses the cat's immune system making healing from illness and injury much more difficult. For a feral cat sometimes literally fighting for his life, and seeing how poor his current condition was, Bryan chose to euthanize him.

Fortunately, most of Bryan's feline family are exclusively indoors and therefore did not come into contact with Van Gough. However, she does have two outdoor cats that she hasn't been able to bring inside yet, and they did have contact with Van Gough and other ferals in the neighborhood. Since FIV can be transferred to other cats through fighting, and because there is no reliable vaccine to protect against it, she will be bringing in her outdoor cats to test them for FIV and make sure they are healthy.

Many people feed stray and feral cats, and even a small gesture like this can help these cats a great deal. Remember, though, to protect your own cats from disease and parasites that these cats may carry. Keep your cats indoors if possible. If they do go outside, be sure to keep their vaccines current and have them on a regular parasite control treatment. Again, there is no reliable vaccine for FIV so cats that go outdoors and get into fights are at risk.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Case of the Week: Clawed

Clawed is a five-year-old domestic shorthair that does go outside regularly. He arrived at the clinic with some soft swelling and yellow fluid drainage from his side. Usually when a cat that goes outdoors comes into the clinic with these symptoms, Dr. Karnia suspects an abscess due to a recent cat bite. In such a case, we clip the fur around the infected area and then flush the wound with a surgical disinfectant. With this treatment and a course of antibiotics, the cat usually heals quickly.

However, from his first visit, the swelling on Clawed's side made Dr. Karnia suspicious that there might be something more going on than just a bite wound abscess. He had had some drainage from the side of his chest for a few days. There was a solid swelling under his skin two inches across and extending along the whole left side of his chest. At the center of this solid swelling was a soft section with a cloudy brown fluid inside it.

We put Clawed under anesthesia in order to drain and flush the wound. The fluid was sent to the lab for a culture to ensure we were giving him the correct antibiotics. No bacteria grew on the culture but the lab did see some light fungal growth. Clawed did very well on the antibiotics but the drainage never completely resolved. When Clawed was brought back for a progress exam, blood was sent in for fungal testing. The results showed that he had Coccidiomycosis, also known as Valley Fever.

Coccidioides is a fungal organism that is endemic to the dry southwestern U.S. The usual route of infection is by inhalation into the lungs. The fungus can then spread to other parts of the body. The infection can cause fever, weight loss, and decreased appetite. Cats are relatively resistant to infection compared to dogs and humans. The most common sign of Valley Fever in cats is an abscess or draining lesion in the skin. Anti-fungal medications, such as fluconazole, are usually effective but may need to be given for several months or even years.

We expect Clawed to do well on the anti-fungal medications, and will report on his progress as his treatment continues.