Prednisolone for viral infection?

clary7

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My 1.5 year old cat has been lethargic for the last few days. Just sleeping all day, not moving much, sometimes crouching from discomfort. No vomitting, bathroom issues, or respiratory issues (meaning no sneezing, coughing, or runny eyes or nose). He is eating and drinking just fine. I was concerned so I took him to the vet today and just got back. The vet ran a few tests but everything showed up fine with him. She couldn't find what is causing his lethargy and said it's most likely just a mild viral infection. So she prescribed some prednisolone steroids for him. I asked what the steroids were for but they told me it would just help his immune system while he recovered from whatever is bothering him. Here's what has me confused though. I thought you couldn't treat or cure viral infections. I thought they just had to run their course. So what purpose does prednisolone serve here? I would rather not give my cat any medications unless its necessary for his comfort or to cure the problem. So I just need some help understanding why exactly I need to give him steroids if it's a viral infection.
 

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clary7

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Hi. I was curious about this myself, so I did a search and found an article by the National Institute of Medicine about using Prednisolone (and cyclosporine) for FIV flare ups. I am guessing your vet might be working off of the premise that a steroid might have some comparable immune support benefits for feline viruses in general.
Immunopathologic Effects of Prednisolone and Cyclosporine A on Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Replication and Persistence - PMC (nih.gov)
I see. The vet did a felv/fiv test and it was all negative, so whatever my cat is dealing with is not that, but I do understand what you mean. But based on this article, if I understood it correctly (I just quickly skimmed through), it seems like steroids might help with viruses? In that case, would it be a bad thing if I don't give my cat the steroids? If it's just a viral infection like the vet thinks, he will recover just fine whether I give him any or not, right? I just asked my mom about this because she had a bad case of covid and she was prescribed steroids and she said it made her feel better. But she was telling me she doesn't know if it's worth giving to my cat because he doesn't have any other symptoms that would suggest he needs the extra support, and I want to be careful when it comes to using medications that aren't absolutely necessary for recovery or pain. Normally I don't question the vet like this lol but I'm just thinking about what I know about viruses and I'm just not sure if I should give the steroids if they arent really necessary. I know I can't ask for actual medical advice here but I just want some opinions on this situation.
 

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My personal opinion is that if you don't want to give your cat the steroids, then you might ask what else could help with the discomfort. Most good vets are amenable to finding alternative solutions when asked. Maybe it won't require anything since you said he is still eating/drinking fine. Perhaps, you should just watch him to ensure you don't see any progression of the issue beyond lethargy/discomfort.

Long term, you might want to look into anti-viral supplements (immune support) that might help to ward off or reduce future flare ups from whatever this viral condition is. It might be worthy to ask the vet if there are other tests to try to pinpoint what kind of virus this is, and therefore it might help you to know if it is possible for him to have re-occurrences down the road.
 

silent meowlook

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Honestly, I don’t think I would be using steroids without knowing why. The vet thinks there might be a virus, but doesn’t know? Can you get copies of your lab work and post them? I’m not a vet but sometimes it helps to see the actual numbers on the bloodwork. Is your cat running a fever.

Of course I don’t want to tell you to go against your vets orders. The vet is the one who has gone to school, is licensed and has seen your cat. Can you post a picture of your cat?
 
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clary7

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My personal opinion is that if you don't want to give your cat the steroids, then you might ask what else could help with the discomfort. Most good vets are amenable to finding alternative solutions when asked. Maybe it won't require anything since you said he is still eating/drinking fine. Perhaps, you should just watch him to ensure you don't see any progression of the issue beyond lethargy/discomfort.

Long term, you might want to look into anti-viral supplements (immune support) that might help to ward off or reduce future flare ups from whatever this viral condition is. It might be worthy to ask the vet if there are other tests to try to pinpoint what kind of virus this is, and therefore it might help you to know if it is possible for him to have re-occurrences down the road.

That's a good idea. My cat had a similar episode when he was 2 months old. I had the same exact vet and vet tech look at him and they could not figure out the cause of his lethargy that time either. That time, the vet suspected it was either some type of parasite not showing up on the tests, or something else (I don't remember what). She prescribed me some dewormer and antibiotics and he was fine a few days later. Honestly, now that I think about it I'm not sure if maybe I just got assigned a vet that isn't the greatest... I don't like saying this about anyone because I highly respect everyone in the vet field, but this is already the third time I've had this vet treat one of my cats and be unable to find what was wrong. In addition to this being labeled a 'mystery illness' twice with this cat already (once now and once as kitten), I was having sudden behavioral problems with another cat of mine earlier this year and when I brought her in, the vet didn't even bother doing any tests, just had me try out gabapentin and when it didn't work just told me her behavior was a mystery and she couldn't do anything else about it. I'm going to look into some type of supplements for my cat for immune support, and if something like this happens again I will probably go to another vet for a different opinion. I am hoping to move cities sometime within the next year, so I might be switching vets soon anyways due to location.
 
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clary7

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Honestly, I don’t think I would be using steroids without knowing why. The vet thinks there might be a virus, but doesn’t know? Can you get copies of your lab work and post them? I’m not a vet but sometimes it helps to see the actual numbers on the bloodwork. Is your cat running a fever.

Of course I don’t want to tell you to go against your vets orders. The vet is the one who has gone to school, is licensed and has seen your cat. Can you post a picture of your cat?

I don't have copies of the lab work but I could call them and ask them to email them to me. I don't know if he's running a fever, I don't know how to check and the vet didn't say anything about it.

I've had a few situations in the past where the vet has recommended something unnecessary for my pets, or didn't do enough to help them. So any time I'm unsure, I like to do more research. Sometimes I don't need to do that of course, like if my pet has an obvious infection thats needs antibiotics asap, of course i won't hesistate and will treat them. But in other cases I like to take a step back and really figure out what's going on and what the best course of action is. I've had multiple people tell me I should become a vet myself (one was even a vet that said that), and honestly I would do it if I had the money to go to school for it! But in the meantime, I just have to ask a lot of questions lol
 

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I'm going to look into some type of supplements for my cat for immune support, and if something like this happens again I will probably go to another vet for a different opinion.
Might not be a bad idea to seek out another vet, given what you are saying!!

Just as a starting point in your research for immune support, look at DMG (N-Dimethylglycine). A few members on here have used it for help in giving their cats a 'boost'. Here is one specific product that contains DMG.
VETRISCIENCE Vetri-DMG Liquid Immune Supplement for Dogs, Cats & Birds, 28-mL - Chewy.com
DMG for Cats: What It Is and How It Can Benefit Your Feline Friend - RedRusa
 
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clary7

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Might not be a bad idea to seek out another vet, given what you are saying!!

Just as a starting point in your research for immune support, look at DMG (N-Dimethylglycine). A few members on here have used it for help in giving their cats a 'boost'. Here is one specific product that contains DMG.
VETRISCIENCE Vetri-DMG Liquid Immune Supplement for Dogs, Cats & Birds, 28-mL - Chewy.com
DMG for Cats: What It Is and How It Can Benefit Your Feline Friend - RedRusa
Thank you so much, I will definitely check this out!
 

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I would bet that what you vet is doing is what FeebysOwner FeebysOwner posted earlier. Some vets throw pred at a lot of things based on possible inflammation, but I agree that you are not getting top notch care from this particular vet. Your cat with the behavioral issue was immediately given gabapentin with no follow up, so there is a pattern here.
 

silent meowlook

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I think you need a second opinion from a vet with cat experience and expertise. Your cat, to me, looks to not feel well, judging from his facial expressions and his body language.
 
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clary7

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Thanks for the feedback everyone, I'm glad I posted here and it's reassuring to know my concerns are valid. I've decided I'm not gonna give him any of the steroids for now, instead I'm gonna keep an eye on him and see how he does. Another question though, if he does not seem to get better, how long should I wait before doing something about it and going to a different vet? I don't know how long this 'mystery virus' may take to run its course, so I don't want to be rushing to vet again if he just simply needs more time to rest. But I also don't want to make the mistake of waiting too and things getting more complicated, if this is something more serious than just a virus.
 

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You will need to look for signs that suggest this has gone beyond just lethargy. Eating less or not wanting to eat and/or not peeing and pooping as is normal are the 'big' ones. Of course, vomiting. Drinking can increase or decrease, depending on what might actually be the issue, if there is one.

You mentioned something about noticing he is 'loafing' more right after eating. That could suggest stomach discomfort - which could lead to him not wanting to eat if he realizes that every time he eats he has 'tummy issues'.

If you do choose to find another vet, get all his records from the current one so you can share them with the new vet. It wouldn't hurt to get copies for yourself and start learning about what they all mean. It may feel overwhelming, but it is well worth the effort, particularly as your cat ages.

Keep us posted.
 
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clary7

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You will need to look for signs that suggest this has gone beyond just lethargy. Eating less or not wanting to eat and/or not peeing and pooping as is normal are the 'big' ones. Of course, vomiting. Drinking can increase or decrease, depending on what might actually be the issue, if there is one.

You mentioned something about noticing he is 'loafing' more right after eating. That could suggest stomach discomfort - which could lead to him not wanting to eat if he realizes that every time he eats he has 'tummy issues'.

If you do choose to find another vet, get all his records from the current one so you can share them with the new vet. It wouldn't hurt to get copies for yourself and start learning about what they all mean. It may feel overwhelming, but it is well worth the effort, particularly as your cat ages.

Keep us posted.
Got it, thanks for sharing. I'll keep a close eye on him, and hopefully he starts feeling better soon. The only good sign I've seen so far was that he was purring a bit again when I was petting him, which he had stopped doing these past few days ever since he started feeling bad. But that also could have been because he was relieved to be home from the vet (I have another cat that is always extremely affectionate and clingy after vet visits, so maybe he was just happy to be home). I'm hoping it just means he's feeling a bit better. I don't know, I guess I'll see. I really appreciate the feedback I'm getting here.
 

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I would bet that what you vet is doing is what FeebysOwner FeebysOwner posted earlier. Some vets throw pred at a lot of things based on possible inflammation, but I agree that you are not getting top notch care from this particular vet. Your cat with the behavioral issue was immediately given gabapentin with no follow up, so there is a pattern here.
There is that old school vet thing of giving cats steroids no matter what. Back in early 1990’s, I lost a cat because of that old school vet way of thinking. I had hoped there weren’t any more of those types of vets around.
 

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There is that old school vet thing of giving cats steroids no matter what. Back in early 1990’s, I lost a cat because of that old school vet way of thinking. I had hoped there weren’t any more of those types of vets around.
I know you don't often read all the posts in a thread that you respond to, but based on the 2019 article I shared earlier, I don't think the 'take away' from it is "give steroids no matter what". Not saying some vets aren't of that mindset, but I am sure there are those who actually believe there is a valid reason for doing so.
 

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Of course your concerns are valid.

Depending on where you live and how hard it is to get an appointment with a vet, you might want to have another one in mind, maybe even with an appointment in place, if you were to suddenly need it.
 

silent meowlook

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I know you don't often read all the posts in a thread that you respond to, but based on the 2019 article I shared earlier, I don't think the 'take away' from it is "give steroids no matter what". Not saying some vets aren't of that mindset, but I am sure there are those who actually believe there is a valid reason for doing so.
To give steroids without knowing why, just isn’t good medicine. Of course there are many valid reasons to give steroids. If there is an inflammatory process going on, then steroids can be beneficial. But to give them for a suspected virus, doesn’t make sense to me. Steroids inhibit the immune system. If you are trying to fight a virus, the last thing I would think you would want to do is inhibit the immune system.

I did read all the posts in this thread.
 

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To give steroids without knowing why, just isn’t good medicine.
As the study I shared indicated, there is reason to believe that it can be beneficial with viruses, in that particular case, specifically FIV.

I truly don't think most vets use steroids 'without knowing why'. It may be done without knowing if it will work, but they're doing so based on evidence/history/research - and studies such as the one mentioned above, in the hopes there will be a benefit.

As vets, they are all better educated in their field than either you or me - and to that point, I will give them credit for employing that knowledge in ways we won't always necessarily understand/appreciate. That is why I encourage folks to ask as many questions as is needed to help them understand their vet's perspective/reasoning. None of us on this site are qualified to interpret that aspect on behalf of any vet.
 
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