Q. In the past three months, our 2-year-old male cat has had frequent episodes of fever during which he stops eating for one to three days, is listless and seeks places to hide. He later snaps out of it and starts to act normal again, playing and eating well. We had him vaccinated about six months ago when we had him neutered. Could the surgery have caused some sort of problem to develop? We had him examined one time, and the vet started him on some antibiotics and Nutracal, which seemed to help him quite a bit. What could be the cause? He's the only cat that we have and is fed Crave dry food and a variety of canned foods. What do you think?
Jenny Gilbert, Irvine
A. Frequent or reoccurring fever episodes are generally associated with viral infections or chronic diseases. To determine if your cat really has a fever, you need to use a child's rectal thermometer and take your cat's temperature rectally. The normal range is usually between 101 and 102.5 degrees, depending on the age and activity of the cat. If your cat is truly running increased temperatures and they are frequent, it is wise to have him examined by your vet again. The doctor will probably take a blood sample to do a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and a chemical profile to evaluate organ functions. The cat should definitely be tested for leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunosuppressive virus (FIV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
The examination should also include a urinalysis to help determine if your cat is suffering from urinary disease. If the CBC is markedly abnormal and indicates a bacterial infection--and no other causes can be determined--a series of blood cultures may be necessary. Antibiotics may be given for several weeks, and follow-up examinations and tests may be necessary.
Do not give your cat any aspirin or Tylenol-like products. They can be very toxic and possibly fatal. I doubt that the surgery would be the cause for such persistent episodes but do have your kitty examined.
Q. Regarding the cat with continuing diarrhea, our Siamese started having this trouble about a year ago. After much veterinary study, it was found that she was (or became) allergic to milk (when in the food). When we cut out all food with dried milk products, the diarrhea stopped. She's about 12 years old, and we found that this is possible in older animals.
Now, what do you do with a cat that has a hairball in the stomach? Lots of Laxatone isn't working.
Ruth Glunt, Los Alamitos
A. It is true that milk or milk products will cause soft stools to fluid diarrhea in most dogs and cats. This is because they do not have sufficient enzymes in their digestive systems to break down the milk proteins. These undigested products will start to draw fluid from the intestinal tract and cause diarrhea. Also the proteins can induce allergic conditions, which can upset the digestive tract and prevent absorption of the other nutrients, leading to diarrhea. This is true for kittens and puppies as well as adult animals.
If your cat does have a hairball lodged in the stomach that she cannot pass, it may be necessary to anesthetize her and have her stomach examined with an endoscope to identify the problem. The hair might have to be removed in fragments with an instrument passed in the scope. If it is too large to remove this way, abdominal surgery will be necessary to open the stomach and remove the obstruction. Radiographs (X-rays) should be taken before any of the procedures are done to determine if they are necessary.