Virus or a veterinarian mistake?

bovelvla

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Hello, 

I am new here, I joined the forum to ask something because I don't know what to do - an external, objective opinion is my last resort. It's a long story so I'll try keeping it short.

We live in a house outside of town and there are a lot of stray cats around (we have 5 of our own aside from the stray ones). One of the stray cats got into our garage and gave birth to 5 kittens this April so we took them home and put them up for adoption but no one would call about them. They turned 6 months old and we were worried about them getting pregnant (they're all females) so we decided to spay them.

During the course of the week (2 weeks ago) we took them, got them spayed and everything was normal. They were recovering well, running around, eating, no fever or any signs of discomfort. One of them got adopted and is living fine with her new owner.

Then one day (around 4-5 days after their surgeries) I saw that one of the kitties was really lethargic and weak so I checked her and I saw her incision was opened. I panicked as it was late at night and checked all the other ones to see and they ALL HAD THEIR INCISIONS OPENED as well. I called up the adopted kitty's owner and she told me that hers was okay so that was a relief.

Needless to say, I ran to the vet first thing in the morning (this Friday) and left them there and they said they were gonna put stitches on them (they had used those surgical staples the first time) so I said okay.

I went back to get them in the afternoon and saw they hadn't used stitches because, as the vets, said "they managed to close them with staples again".

So I went home and everything was ok, all the cats were separated so they didn't lick their wounds and open them up again, but then the next day I saw that the kitty was still lethargic and refused to eat. Her incisions were ok and I rang up the vet and they said it was normal, that it was probably from the stress.

Next day, on Sunday, the cat was so bad - she didn't have fever but was completely unresponsive, just laying there like a piece of meat. I picked her up and she pooped a bit on me but it wasn't poop - it was blood diarrhea coming out under pressure. We got so worried, we rang the emergency number of our vet and he took her in, put her an IV (antibiotics and glucose) and kept her for the night. On the next day,  the vet told me they did an sonography and everything was okay, then they did a blood test and her organs weren't damaged so they guessed it was probably an allergic reaction to the meds.

It's now Wednesday evening and she is still in intensive care, with very little improvement - they told me she DID eat on her own yesterday but she is still very apathetic. She does have a bit of a spark back, and they said she hasn't pooped today but she did throw up a bit, but is still completely out of this world. She does meow and she does try to get out of her cage when we open to pet her but she's not in  good shape.

But that's not all, one of the other cats opened her incision for the second time and she was so infected on the inside that actual pus was coming out her vagina and she had extremely high fever. She still ate and was running around and acting usual but we took her to the vet because the fever wouldn't go down. They took it down with an IV, stitched her up and she's at home recovering (well, for now).

The 3rd cat had an allergic reaction to the staples they used and they had to open her up again and this time they did put stitches on her as well. She's also at home and is doing okay for now.

The 4th cat is really ill. She started showing the same symptoms as the first one (lethargy, loss of appetite hence dehydration) on Monday. She stopped eating so the vet gave me some pills that were supposedly to stimulate her apetite but they didn't work. On Tuesday evening she was so weak and just dying, she had worsened so much in just a few hours so I didn't even hesitate and took her to the vet directly and they put her on antibiotics and glucose, and she's still there now.

So, all the cats had massive problems after the 2nd intervention (when we first saw their incisions were open) and 2 of the cats show the same symptoms (lethargy, refusing to eat, apathy, diarrhea, vomits and dehydration) and are both currently in intensive care getting antibiotics and glucose through an IV. The problem is I think it's completely the veterinarians fault for all this because the problems all started after their intervention. These cats were great animals just 2 weeks ago, now 2 of them are dying. 

I went to see them today and my vets say that these are virus symptoms and that they probably won't make it. And I just can't accept that. If it were FIP or any other virus, why are only they the ones infected? We have 5 other cats and they all seem fine. Isn't it a huge coincidence that the virus showed up the same day they were in the ER with open incisions and infections? How come ALL the cats went through so much problems after their spaying? 
 

I've been reading about feline viruses and FIP is the one that kind of fits the symtoms but not a 100%. But how can, in a house that currently has 9 cats living together, only 2 are infected and both present the same symptoms at the same time, right after they've been through a medical HELL? 

I don't know, I would love to hear what anyone thinks, I can't even begin to imagine having to take the decision to put those wonderful kitties down because they "have a virus" when I don't believe it's the case. How do I fight with my vets? What should I do?
 

Lyzzie

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Hi, I'm sorry you and your kitties are going through this. The first thing I would do is ask another vet at another clinic for another opinion. I don't know if it's going to be possible, since two cats are on IV.

I do think that it's not a virus, but I'm not a vet. When you got the cats back after their spay, did you get e-collars for them? Pain meds? What were the after care instructions?

I hope other members will chime in soon, I'm not an expert.
 
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bovelvla

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Hi, I'm sorry you and your kitties are going through this. The first thing I would do is ask another vet at another clinic for another opinion. I don't know if it's going to be possible, since two cats are on IV.

I do think that it's not a virus, but I'm not a vet. When you got the cats back after their spay, did you get e-collars for them? Pain meds? What were the after care instructions?

I hope other members will chime in soon, I'm not an expert.
No, they didn't tell me anything. They told me they injected them antibiotics for a week and that I didn't need to give them any meds except Metacam (I live in Spain so I don't know if that's the same name in the rest of the world) but only if I saw they were feeling down. I actually did give the first cat Metacam because after I saw she was kind of lethargic and without appetite I thought she just might be in pain, and they used that as the first diagnosis - that maybe I overdosed her. But then the other cat developed the same symptoms and I hadn't given her anything so they should rule it out. They gave me e-collars after they put stitches on them.

And yes, I'm going there tomorrow morning to check on the cats and I'm gonna ask them to print me out the medical reports with all the symptoms and treatment that they've been receiving because my parents are in Bulgaria and they're close friends with our old veterinarian from when we used to live there. So they're gonna ask him for his opinion but still, it's gonna be hard for him to know for sure without seeing them.

And needless to say, the bills just keep piling up (it's 4 cats we're talking about) so I don't know if we'll have the sources to move them to another specialist, which is also personally killing me. I don't want to lose them and I hate feeling so helpless.
 

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How open were their incisions? Were they inside or outside for recovery? Were they tested for Feline Leukemia? With so many of them showing signs of infection, I can only think that either something got in the incisions when they opened them, or the staples the vet used the second time were contaminated, or they all have some kind of immune depression.

:vibes: that they get better soon!
 
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bovelvla

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How open were their incisions? Were they inside or outside for recovery? Were they tested for Feline Leukemia? With so many of them showing signs of infection, I can only think that either something got in the incisions when they opened them, or the staples the vet used the second time were contaminated, or they all have some kind of immune depression.

that they get better soon!
There were like 2 cm open (less than an inch). They were around the house, but not in the yard. After they were spayed we kept them in separate rooms for 24 hours and after that we let them to run freely around the house but we didn't let them go outside. That was our hypothesis, that either they had reactions to the meds they took or that they were infected during the surgery, but I don't think the vets will realize and confess their own mistake. That, and the fact that it all started after they closed their incisions is why we're so sceptical about them saying it's a virus and not an infection.
 

Primula

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What a nightmare. Personally, I would be tearing someone a new one. At least 3 incisions opening post-surgery (never happened to me) & sounds like these folks don't have a clue. Is there not another town you can go to for better care?
 

denice

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This was something that happened to a man that I knew many years ago.  He had bypass surgery and they used metal to close his chest.  He had an allergic reaction to the metal they used to close his chest and he ended up with a massive infection caused by  the allergy.  I don't know if it is something like what is going on with these kittens but they are from the same litter so an allergy  is a possibility.
 
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bovelvla

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What a nightmare. Personally, I would be tearing someone a new one. At least 3 incisions opening post-surgery (never happened to me) & sounds like these folks don't have a clue. Is there not another town you can go to for better care?
We live in a big city and I'm thinking about going to different vet clinics with the medical reports tomorrow to tell them my story and hear their opinion. I don't wanna rush to move the cats because they've been in and out of intensive care at least 3-4 times this week, I don't wanna stress them more. I wanna be sure I've found the right vet before I chose to move them to an unknown place. I just wish this all would end ASAP and I could have them home with me, they absolutely do NOT deserve all that has happened and keeps happening to them.
 

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Hello,

I am a human doctor, a Physician in general internal medicine, not a Surgeon, and not a Vet so that any advice that I give about cats should be checked by a Vet.  Having written this, I see that, apart from the surgery, they were all given Metacam.  This NSAID has been shown to cause kidney failure when given by injection in large dosage.  Have their blood ureas and serum creatinines been done?  Against the diagnosis of kidney damage, however, is the bloody defaecations and the diarrhoea, so that a post operative infection is another, possible, diagnosis that would involve all of the cats. 

Your plan of involving your old, Bulgarian Vet is a good one.  So is printing the pathology that was taken?  Can you post a sample of it for us to see, as well as sending it to your Vet in Bulgaria?  It would be good if you could post us his opinion.

With all best wishes, you are having a very distressing time, I am very sorry for you.

Geoffrey
 
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bovelvla

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Hello,

I am a human doctor, a Physician in general internal medicine, not a Surgeon, and not a Vet so that any advice that I give about cats should be checked by a Vet.  Having written this, I see that, apart from the surgery, they were all given Metacam.  This NSAID has been shown to cause kidney failure when given by injection in large dosage.  Have their blood ureas and serum creatinines been done?  Against the diagnosis of kidney damage, however, is the bloody defaecations and the diarrhoea, so that a post operative infection is another, possible, diagnosis that would involve all of the cats. 

Your plan of involving your old, Bulgarian Vet is a good one.  So is printing the pathology that was taken?  Can you post a sample of it for us to see, as well as sending it to your Vet in Bulgaria?  It would be good if you could post us his opinion.

With all best wishes, you are having a very distressing time, I am very sorry for you.

Geoffrey
Only one of them was given Metacam and only once, so it doesn't make sense as a cause for all of their illness. And of course, as soon as I get the results back home I can post them. I think the current antibiotics they´re using is actually Cefalexin (through an IV), but I'm going tomorrow morning to ask for the blood and sonography results, as well as anything they have used on them previously. I hope the vets give them to me without a fight, I'll keep you updated.

I have the sheets of their spaying though and it doesn't say anything about an anti-inflammatory treatment, it just lists the spaying and the dosage of antibiotics required by procedure. I hope we'll get to the bottom of this and our kitties will be safe and sound at home ASAP.

Also, a quick thank you to everyone who has been replying so fast, I was really losing my mind. It's really nice to hear new ideas and thoughts. Thank you.
 

bellel

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Honestly, it sounds like infection during the surgery. I've been rescuing cats since I was 16. I'm 45 now and none of my cats have had anything like what your poor babies are experiencing. The vet will not admit their mistake. Just be firm with them when you ask for the reports. It's your right as an owner to know about the health of your cats and to get a second opinion. I know you want to use the one in Bulgaria, but it sounds like time is not on their side. You need to get those reports to another qualified vet quickly. I would try a vet in town. Time is of the essence. I'm am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers that your babies will be ok. Please keep us posted.
 
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bovelvla

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Sad news everybody, I woke up today to a call from the vet saying one of the cats had passed away during the night. She told me that she did a test on the other one and it tested positive for panleukopenia. We went to see her and she was in a horrifying state, she was drooling, wasn't responsive and she was lying in her own blood and feces. I got so mad at the vets for not cleaning it up but my sister was crying so hard I didn't start a fight. 

We chose to put her down, she was suffering and it seemed like the only humane option. Even if it was a virus, the hygiene in their clinics is so questionable (after seeing the cage they were keeping our cats I have no doubt about it) they definitely got it from there. Another reason to believe so is that the first one we gave away got adopted before we took the other ones to get their incisions closed (her incision hadn't opened) and she is absolutely fine. We're currently disinfecting our entire house as we have 5 other cats that could potentially be infected.

Their 2 sisters are showing no symptoms so far -  they eat well, they're active and their poop is normal. One of them had a small fever but it was because her incision was infected. We took her to the vet today and they gave her a shot for the fever and told me to take her back tomorrow morning for another routine check. We're keeping them in separate rooms and we're gonna wait for a week or 2 so that we can be sure they don't have the virus disease (vets said if they don't show any symptoms in 15 days they are probably okay).

All I can say is I hope no one ever has to go what we've been through, I hope all your pets stay safe, and thank you for giving your opinions. Let's hope the rest of our cats are all okay and pray the 2 kitties that passed away are in a better place with no suffering.
 

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I am so sorry.

Do they routinely vaccinate against Panleuk where you live?  Here the series is routinely started at 8 weeks.  This stuff is extremely contageous.  I know that a clinic has a kitten with it they take extraordinary measures to stop it from spreading.  
 

bellel

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I am so sorry. I was hoping for a better outcome. Hugs and prayers to you for trying your best to help them. Just try to remember that at least they knew love before they passed. You did your best.
 
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