EXTREME lethargy after multiple steroids


TCS Member
Thread starter
Feb 11, 2024

Our 6 year old male cat ended up in the ER Monday after he started having what seems like an asthmatic episode (he’d never had one before.) low heart rate, low temperature, high breath rate. Labs came back normal as did x rays besides a little shadow on his lung, which they diagnosed asthma from. They gave him a 24 hour steroid and albuterol, and he was pretty much back to normal.

his breathing was still elevated the next day so we took him to his normal vet. I’m kicking myself for this now, but he gave him a two month steroid.
Yesterday (4 days later) he started acting lethargic and saying no to food, and I noticed elevated breathing again. Back to the ER. They gave him more albuterol and some quick acting steroid to open his lungs.

since then, he’s been so lethargic. The lethargy was scaring me so I took him back to the ER last night, but they said his vitals were decent. But he’s been sleeping almost exclusively, barely walking at all, and I’ve had to syringe feed him water and food (I also syringed some omega 3s for him) After he was syringed water, he decided he wanted more and did slowly stand up to drink from his bowl.

im at a loss. The ER is no longer helping us, but he’s acting like a zombie. I don’t know what to do’s


TCS Member
Adult Cat
Dec 7, 2021
My Tessa has asthma and she gets a steroid shot every 7 weeks. (Yes there are possible negative side effects, but in her particular case the pros outweigh the cons). Anyhow, after she gets the steroid shot, she’s pretty tired for 2 to 3 days. I’m not sure if it’s the steroid or the trip to the vet. I wouldn’t say she’s extremely lethargic, but she definitely sleeps more than normal.
Perhaps the multiple doses of steroids as well as the stress of the trips to the vet and the ER have made your kitty kind of exhausted.
If it were me I’d call the vet in the morning. Or, are you a Chewy customer? You can call the Chewy vets, or chat online, 24/7. They won’t diagnose or prescribe but they will give advice. I’ve used them a couple times on nights and weekends for peace of mind and advice until my vet is available.
I hope your kitty feels better soon.

silent meowlook

TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Nov 10, 2014
Hi. I s as m sorry your cat is not well.

Sometimes you have to start thinking outside the box, so to speak. Maybe this is something else? I am not a vet, but do have an asthmatic cat, and have worked for many vet specialists and feline only hospitals and ER. I have never heard of asthma described as a shadow on the lung in X-ray. Usually it is described as a bronchial or bronchointerstitial pattern.

You might want to talk to your vet about a referral to a veterinary specialist. In the meantime, it sounds like your cat needs help. Did the veterinarians that gave the steroids know about the previous steroid injections that were given?

It is important hat your cat eat. Although I f do o not suggest you try any sort of syringe feeding, because you could risk aspiration pneumonia and send a respiratory compromised cat over the edge.

Often times at an ER, there are multiple vets ghss as t work, so you might not get the same one as before.

Do you have and feline only hospitals in your area?

Was bloodwork gone all normal?