Weird cat health issue.

User5566

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Hi, I'm new on the forum, let this be my introduction. I have two cats that live in/out (they come and go as they like) on a rural property far from roads, neighbours etc. They are both about 5 yeaes old. One was found as a kitten when ill, the other I took from someone who couldn't care for him when he was 1 year old.

Sorry for the wall of text, but I have to explain the details.

Now to the subject of the thread. One of my cats didn't come back home after dark despite cold weather (he doesn't like to be outside for too long when it gets cold). So I went to search for him. I found him in a shed in a cat-bed we have prepared there for them as an alternative to coming home. He was very lethargic, barely conscious, drooling, had his tongue sticking out, he had a small wound on his tongue that looked like he bit it himself. His breath was accelerated. He had this smell about him I couldn't really identify, like maybe feces with a hint of vomit. I touched him gently everywhere to check if any particular spot of his body hurts more. There was no difference. So I took him home with the entire cat-bed. This was late evening and there are no 24h vets where I am. So I brought the cat home and I took him to the vet in the morning. Also the smell I mentioned before intensified a lot more and it appeared it was the worst where his drooling ended up.

The vet said the cat looks like he was hit by a car, but the only road there is here is a private, badly managed road no one can go faster than walking speed on (in a typical car). Also on that day I had only one visitor, a delivery courier. He knows about my cats and he usually pays good attention to them. Also, the cat has no visible signs of external trauma, after it got better it walks fine, it purrs when I pet him. There is no "painful spot" on his body I can locate.

Coming back to that morning, the vet checked his teeth and mouth, said there is nothing lodged in his throat (this was my suspicion). Also the vet didn't think my idea about the cat being poisoned likely, because various types of poison (mouse/rat poison/car fluids) present differently. One "poisoning" possibility the vet found barely probable is someone throwing out poisoned meat to kill off wolves (yes we have wolves here) which I was told is a thing that happened before.

So the cat was "in shock" (vets words translated so the actual correct word in English might be different). He was given an IV drip with eloctrolytes, some drug for inflamation/shock (his temperature was elevated to 39.2C), an antibiotic "just in case". The vet manipulated the cat for a long time searching for any clues, but found nothing. Eventually we took the cat home with a closed IV in his paw with instructions to come back tomorrow (or to ring if anything happens).

That same afternoon/early evening the cat suddenly got much better. He stopped drooling, he's tongue was no longer out. He ate and drank water. He had a pee. He really wanted to get outside, but of course we didn't let him. Eventually he went to sleep. In the meantime his paw started to swell so I had to take off his dressing from the IV drip, wait an hour, put it on again etc(as instructed).

So next morning we went to the vet again. The vet gave the cat another IV drip of electrolytes. An antibiotic and I think the same anti inflamation/shock drug. As the cat was much better (and there being a holiday tomorrow) we were given an antibiotic in a syringe to give to the cat as an injection in 48h. We were also instructed to leave the IV piece in for 48h. If the cat eats every day then we can remove the IV in 48h. If it gets worse, we have vets number to call her during the holiday.

This is now. So the cat appears to be recovering, but this leaves a mystery of what happened to him. I have another cat to worry about if this is poison, or human action.

I had various ideas that the vet found unlikely (a hornet sting, infected rodent biting him on his tongue, neighboring farmers putting fresh manure on the fields and the cat drinking water runoff etc). I was given many reasons why all those are unlikely.

So then the question becomes what is left? A drop from a tree? Nearby trees are not that tall, 5~8m max. Someone kicking him? There was only one visitor which is unlikely to do it.

So being left with those questions I decided to start this thread to hear what people think. Maybe someone recognises the symptoms.
 

catapault

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Welcome to The Cat Site. I'm so glad your cat is doing very much better. Your vet seems very helpful.

I have no idea what might be the problem. Since you mention
(vets words translated so the actual correct word in English might be different)
what country are you in as that might have some bearing in the issue.

If poison is put out for wolves could there be a poison for mice and rats. Your cat found one dying, it bit him when he killed it. Then he ate it and he was affected by the poison.

Whatever the reason I am glad that your vet was so helpful and your cat is doing better. It must have been so disturbing for you, waiting through the night until you could get him to the vet.

And when you have a moment - cat's name and his picture?
 

fionasmom

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I am glad that your cat is recovering, but I understand your concern about what happened. We can only guess based on our own experiences.

I have had outdoor cats who were killed by cars not going that quickly. However, I see your point about not finding any wounds or sensitive places. Even with severe human abuse, I think that you would see a wound or tender area. Cats are hard to poison, much harder than dogs, although it could happen. They do not necessarily eat what smells off to them, again unlike a dog, but meat with poison on it might have an appeal. If your cat ate some of the meat, it is possible that he did not die because as he ate it had an unpleasant taste so he stopped.

I can't place the bitten tongue, although that could have happened if anything did hit or jar him. This does sound like an injury, but could he have had a concurrent non-injury medical condition which caused the diarrhea?

Not disagreeing with your vet or you on any of this, as it is a mystery.
 
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User5566

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Welcome to The Cat Site. I'm so glad your cat is doing very much better. Your vet seems very helpful.
Thank you. The cat is improving. He eats and drinks regularly now, but perhaps still sleeps more than usual. The bad smell is gone, and his fur looks shiny again.

He finally defecated today (Also in reply to fionasmom, he didn't have diarrhea before - in my previous post I mentioned I would expect a diarrhea if he had cat equivalent of "food poisoning" with the manure they spray on the fields as fertiliser. But he didn't have this symptom. Probably you're right he wouldn't eat or drink anything that smelled bad. )

what country are you in as that might have some bearing in the issue.

If poison is put out for wolves could there be a poison for mice and rats. Your cat found one dying, it bit him when he killed it. Then he ate it and he was affected by the poison.
I'm in Poland. Regarding the wolves, we suspect poison for them may be a possibility. The wolves are protected here so it is illegal to do it, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone did it. The vet suggested it, so I assume perhaps she heard something about it happening.

Regarding poison for mice/rats the vet said poisons for rodents act over a number of days(perhaps this is true only for stuff available now?) . A cat would get worse and worse gradually, while ours was perfectly fine few hours before. However, I guess it is possible someone has some unusual poison for mice and uses it. There is a lot of "today's chemicals are ineffective so I'm going to use my grandpa's products I found in a shed" so who knows.

Whatever the reason I am glad that your vet was so helpful and your cat is doing better. It must have been so disturbing for you, waiting through the night until you could get him to the vet.

And when you have a moment - cat's name and his picture?
Me too. His name is Set (like the Egyptian God's name). He is 5 years old. And here is his picture. Longing for the time when he will be able to get out again. It is interesting how he came to love the outdoors while he used to live in an apartment with his previous owner. The first time he came here he was really scared of the outdoors, but over few weeks no one would've guessed his past.
0_20221111_095439.jpg
The green thing on his paw is the dressing over the IV, and the vet had to shave his other paw too, but the right leg proved better for the iv in the end.


I am glad that your cat is recovering, but I understand your concern about what happened. We can only guess based on our own experiences.

I have had outdoor cats who were killed by cars not going that quickly. However, I see your point about not finding any wounds or sensitive places. Even with severe human abuse, I think that you would see a wound or tender area. Cats are hard to poison, much harder than dogs, although it could happen. They do not necessarily eat what smells off to them, again unlike a dog, but meat with poison on it might have an appeal. If your cat ate some of the meat, it is possible that he did not die because as he ate it had an unpleasant taste so he stopped.

I can't place the bitten tongue, although that could have happened if anything did hit or jar him. This does sound like an injury, but could he have had a concurrent non-injury medical condition which caused the diarrhea?

Not disagreeing with your vet or you on any of this, as it is a mystery.
Yes, regarding the possibility of being hit by a cat, I thought it unlikely, but not impossible. There is a faster (still only dirt, no pavement) road about 300m away. It is a distance he sometimes goes. But then if he was hit, would he come all the way back, go into the shed, and up a ladder? (I forgot to mention there is a 2m high ladder in the shed leading to where two additional cat beds are). Perhaps with adrenaline an injury can be ignored for first few minutes.

Regarding the small wound on his tongue the vet said it looks like he bit it himself and she said to her it might be a clue about him experiencing a sudden jolt of pain he didn't expect(closing his jaw in reflex) which supports the possibility of being hit(by car, or human, perhaps fall from high place).

He seems better every day. I hope this means whatever this was is healing well. I realise I might never know what really happened.
 

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Poor kitty! I am so glad he is improving. From this experience, has it made you question whether to let him be an outdoor kitty again? If there really are poisons out there, perhaps it isn’t safe?
 

fionasmom

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Thank you for updating us. He is a lovely boy.

Your vet is right about the rat poison and it sounds as if Poland has the same type that is used here in the US. There is about a 3-7 day period as it causes internal bleeding which might be obvious in bloody stool or even marks under the skin. Death for the rat, or even a pet, is due to hemorrhage which could be internal.

I wonder if two things could have happened; a sudden jarring for some reason not related to what he ate, if anything, and it all came together at one time.

I see now that he did not have diarrhea, but a feces type smell when you found him.
 
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User5566

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Poor kitty! I am so glad he is improving. From this experience, has it made you question whether to let him be an outdoor kitty again? If there really are poisons out there, perhaps it isn’t safe?
Yes, it definitely made me question it. Now, I know it is a topic that people feel very strongly about online so I don't want to start a general conversation about it, but talking specifically about my cat here it did made me question it. If I knew with high probability it was poison it would definitely push me more towards doing something to protect both of my cats. Unfortunately, having them purely inside is not really an option for me(I'll explain why further down). I would have to think about perhaps cat-proofing my fences on property boundary so they can't get out easily. The property is fairly large (for a cat) so I doubt they would venture outside often if it was a hassle to them.

The reasons why keeping them inside permanently is not really an option for me are that, one, my partner is one of the people that have those strong feelings about cats being allowed outside. Then there is the matter we're often away and cats would not just be home. They would be there for 12h+ at a time(sometimes longer) when they are really used to living outside. This brings me to the third thing. If my cats were used to living inside, like Set was when he came here this would be a non-issue, but now on those rare occasions one or the other cat is ill it is always a struggle when they want to go out, but we don't let them. They do everything they can think of (especially Set). He vocalises, he leans on the balcony door trying to reach the handle(seriously), he tries to open cupboards in the house, and scratch them, he looks under rugs and ends up pulling them, he tries to search under furniture and scratch it from under it while lying on his back. Once all this and more bores him and we still haven't let him out he looks so miserable. He usually sits next to the glass balcony door and just looks outside with a depressed look.

However, if I knew with high probability it was poison I would keep him inside until I got to the bottom of it. Then there is also the matter of the other cat. He was born outdoors and never lived inside, he knows how to use the litter box, but he is a different category of cat. While Set eventually gives up and just looks miserable, Ramzes (my other cat) just looks for stuff to do and when he gets bored with scratching inanimate objects he starts attacking Set... So basically when they are inside and they don't want to be here, they require almost constant attention, I can't imagine leaving them by themselves. Again I know it is a very hot topic so I'm not looking to start a long conversation on this very subject. I only described the above in detail for people interested to know why.


Thank you for updating us. He is a lovely boy.

Your vet is right about the rat poison and it sounds as if Poland has the same type that is used here in the US. There is about a 3-7 day period as it causes internal bleeding which might be obvious in bloody stool or even marks under the skin. Death for the rat, or even a pet, is due to hemorrhage which could be internal.

I wonder if two things could have happened; a sudden jarring for some reason not related to what he ate, if anything, and it all came together at one time.

I see now that he did not have diarrhea, but a feces type smell when you found him.
I see. So now I understand why the vet wanted us to take a picture of his stool.

That smell was quite weird, the way I described it before is how I identified it, but the vet called "difficult to recognise" so it might have been something else. It disappeared as soon as he felt better. Also we did use a slightly damp towel to clean his fur gently.

I'm glad to hear the kitty is feeling better.
Me too :-) Today we removed his IV as instructed by the vet and I'll be giving him his (hopefully last) antibiotic injection. I think he looks much better.

Here is a picture taken just an hour ago:
Compress_20221112_104247_7973.jpg
 
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User5566

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There is one more thing I forgot to mention before that may be relevant. BTW he is 5 years old.

Few months ago we noticed his rear pads (on his feet) appear swollen. It didn't seem to affect his walking, but we started applying moisturiser to them and the swelling did go down a bit.

However, now, after he was given the first set of drugs his rear pads shrunk substantially. It felt as if he had excess skin there. Also my partner noticed he appears "smaller" in general. As if perhaps he had some general swelling before. The vet didn't notice any swelling during quite long examination and I forgot to mention about the pads at the time.

However this makes me worry he may have some underlying health condition that may have just surfaced. Another thing I was thinking about recently was that he had a couple of injuries to his left leg from fighting with other cats in the past. A couple of years ago he had an infection there and he had to get antibiotics for it (the symptoms back then was just him limping). Would it be possible for another infection to go unnoticed until it burst internally perhaps resulting in septic shock?

Today (except in the early morning) he spent the majority of the day sleeping. This seems in contrast to yesterday when he was very active. He still ate quite a bit. He definitely recovered his appetite. I hope him being more sleepy is not a bad sign.
 

fionasmom

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Your cats all have Egyptian names? That is very interesting and somewhat popular in the cat world.

It sounds like you have a very large piece of property and that supervising it all would be difficult. If you suspect poisoning though, it would be worth trying to check this out as best you can. Seeing pieces of meat around, food you don't recognize, plates of any kind, even plants that might be toxic that they might have chewed. Whatever makes sense to you. Any suspicious people, including those you might trust?

However, you raise an interesting point about something else having happened at the same time or that this might be a whole different issue. Cat fight injuries are pretty clear to see; yes, they can become very infected and go on to cause illness. If an infection from a fight enters the blood stream, there can be sepsis. Because cat teeth are so tiny, even in adults, a bite would closes very quickly, trapping bacterial inside; unlike a dog bite which is often an open gash and actually easier to disinfect. A cat's pads could become infected this way, or even as a result of some other illnesses.

It sounds to me as if you took the cat to your personal vet who knows both of you, so I would definitely call and update with your new observations.
 
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User5566

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Your cats all have Egyptian names? That is very interesting and somewhat popular in the cat world.
They do :-)

It sounds like you have a very large piece of property and that supervising it all would be difficult. If you suspect poisoning though, it would be worth trying to check this out as best you can. Seeing pieces of meat around, food you don't recognize, plates of any kind, even plants that might be toxic that they might have chewed. Whatever makes sense to you. Any suspicious people, including those you might trust?
I'm not sure I can call it very large :-) but having lived for many years in tiny apartments in cities it does seem so sometimes(especially when time comes to mow grass, or make paths in snow).

I should be able to see anything unusual on my property as vegetation is quite short, but the surrounding area is very overgrown with tall grass so that is not that straightforward. It is definitely a good idea to check it out more carefully as far as possible.

Regarding plants, my partner is very interested in them so I know there are some slightly poisonous plants around here (other than certain mushrooms and one very poisonous plant that is very rare in here, but does grow in the region). I have seen Set munch on leaves and little shrubs before, but I think I can exclude plants as a source of potential poisoning with some certainty. I can't imagine him finding a mushroom and deciding to eat it... Also that particular mushroom results in liver failure after few days. Once there are strong symptoms there is no hope(other than liver transplant which is very rare around here). Many people died because of it, but I never heard of cats.

Humans on the other hand... If it was a malicious action of a human I may never know. But then there are lots of other animals around here. Quite a few of feral cats. Previously I've also seen foxes, an occasional dog etc. If there was poisoned meat I would expect to find dead animals, or hear of them being found in the area unless it just started to happen in which case I would have a suspicion towards someone that just moved in to the area recently.

However, you raise an interesting point about something else having happened at the same time or that this might be a whole different issue. Cat fight injuries are pretty clear to see; yes, they can become very infected and go on to cause illness. If an infection from a fight enters the blood stream, there can be sepsis. Because cat teeth are so tiny, even in adults, a bite would closes very quickly, trapping bacterial inside; unlike a dog bite which is often an open gash and actually easier to disinfect. A cat's pads could become infected this way, or even as a result of some other illnesses.

It sounds to me as if you took the cat to your personal vet who knows both of you, so I would definitely call and update with your new observations.
Yes, I'll definitely talk to her about it after the weekend.
 

fionasmom

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I agree that you would find more dead animals if a poisoner was at work. Cats would probably not eat a mushroom, but a grass like plant or a wispy one might attract them. Let us know what the vet thinks and if you come to any conclusions about this and in the meantime I hope that Set stays healthy. How is he today?
 
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User5566

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I agree that you would find more dead animals if a poisoner was at work. Cats would probably not eat a mushroom, but a grass like plant or a wispy one might attract them. Let us know what the vet thinks and if you come to any conclusions about this and in the meantime I hope that Set stays healthy. How is he today?
It has been a week and Set appears 100% fine. I'm glad, but this is even more puzzling.

I did spend few hours walking the surrounding area, but I haven't found anything unusual.

The vet (as expected) asked to see him if the issue with his pads returns, but she didn't think it had anything to do with this illness and she didn't want to speculate. As for infection in the paw, she thinks he would have to have significant symptoms if it was infected to the point of bursting.

The first time I let Set outside I went with him just in case he decides to disappear (I read cats that feel ill sometimes hide from people), but other than perhaps being "more careful" as he was walking. He was fine.

Then on next days we decided to only let him out during the day(early morning).As we could let him back in at that time. Every time he just went out for a couple of hours and came back with no problems. At the same time the weather turned below freezing. My other cat has been developing very thick fur and puting up some extra weight for last month or so, he goes out as much as before as if not noticing the cold, but Set's fur always was on the thin side and as he lost some weight during this illness it looks even thinner. This is reflected in his behaviour. He goes out very little when temperature drops below freezing. Ironically last year his fur started thickening just before spring.

Now, I'm not sure what to think about this incident. If this was in a human, there were no further symptoms and everything checked out good I would guess some sort of allergic reaction perhaps? There were hornet and wasp nests in the shed in the past. They usually appear only at specific times of the year and are very easy to notice so I remove them straight away, but it is not impossible he might have encountered one of those insects. At least until few days ago this has been one of the warmest Novembers on record around here so who knows. Still it is just one of many possibilities.

The way he looked like a week ago I wouldn't believe if someone told me he'll be back to normal in a week. I'm glad he is OK and I hope this is not going to happen again.
 

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Thanks so much for taking the time to update us. Often members who read ask how threads turned out. I have to agree that you have done everything possible to find a clue as to what is happening and nothing adds up to the one big answer. It is good that he is entirely himself again; hopefully, if he had a scary experience that he understands caused distress he will avoid it again. It might be good that he wants to be inside as your weather gets colder. Hopefully this never happens again.
 

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Could the smell have been wet garbage? Maybe ate something from garbage that had been contaminated with something rotten or poisonous?
 
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