November 22, 2008

Thank Heaven For Second Opinions!

Click photos to enlarge
La-Lee is one of those cats that purrs her way into everyone's heart. She's a talker, a lap sitter, a tag along, and a pillow warmer. As you might guess, we got her from the Humane Society.
We had been looking for a Burmese cat. None were available, but we were told that there had just arrived a beautiful Tonkinese cat that sure wouldn't be there long. We jumped in the car and she was ours about 45 minutes later.
I asked why such a beautiful cat was there.

It seems a girl was getting married and her future husband had said it was "me or the cat". Personally, I would have found a different groom and kept the cat.

Lucky for us, this adorable cat has been the center of our household for almost 12 years.

Last January things seemed to be going wrong with La-Lee.

For all of you who have cats, I'm telling you about our ordeal in the event you have a cat with symptoms similar to what La-Lee had.
Perhaps some of you have already
been there and done that with your cat and wonder why it took me so long to arrive ... at the "second opinion" that saved her life!

It all happened gradually. This calm, sweet girl began acting nervous, then later seemed to be having "panic attacks". I rushed her to an old vet I'd used years ago. He said she was a Tonkinese and was "neurotic" and not to worry. (La-Lee has never been neurotic!)

However, things got worse. When holding her I could feel her heart pounding, and she was panting as though she couldn't get her breath.

Back to the vet:
This time he said she was having an asthma attack. It was decided she was allergic to the dogs. This meant she had to be isolated in the bedroom, permanently, forever. I also had to use a face mask to give her asthma medications.

Things still got worse, nights were especially bad. She was so hungry, yet she never ate. I tried every food imaginable. She seemed to like tiny bits of my left over egg or tuna salad with mayonnaise. Eventually, La-Lee only licked Nutra-Cal from my finger.

Back to the vet:
She was put on high powered steroids and penicillin. I was sent home with the syringes to give her the meds. I said there was no way I'd be giving penicillin shots, it is painful, requires a large needle ... and I knew La-Lee would have no part of that.

Back to the vet:
After a good scolding, the vet said ... let me show you how to give a penicillin shot. I knew what was coming! He held her firmly and attempted to give the shot. The cat jumped in the air, the syringe hit the wall and the vet was covered with penicillin. He was very annoyed, I was amused and La-Lee was furious. We were sent home with medications less troublesome. (I later found out it was tranquilizers mixed with antibiotics.)

La-Lee continued to get worse. She was now dreadfully skinny, had insomnia, cried all the time and was extremely restless.

Back to the vet:
This time she was given an ultrasound. The vet determined she had cancer throughout her intestines and if I loved my cat, I'd put her to sleep ... right then.

This didn't sound right and didn't feel right. I'd had enough with what I now considered to be a neurotic vet. I told him I didn't make hasty decisions and would need to take her home and give this some thought.

After calling all my friends to help me locate a specialist, I decided to rush La-Lee to the young vet that in the past had the unpleasant responsibility of coming to our house when it was time to say "good-bye" to a family pet.

I needed a second opinion, pronto.
Off to a Different Vet:

Dr. Kelly was all business. To put my mind at ease, she did an ultrasound of La-Lee's intestines. Several other vets, as well as myself, studied the screen. It was agreed by all that there was no sign of any cancer. Next came x-rays and then drawing the blood for a complete panel.

Dr. Kelly was quite certain by La-Lee's behavior and appearance (skinny, nervous, hungry) that she was ... hyperthroid and that there was probably a non-cancerous tumor on her thyroid.

When the blood results came back ... her diagnosis was correct. La-Lee's thyroid was alarmingly high. Had we not found this out she probably would have had heart problems and not long to live.

We had three options:
1. pills = which made her vomit
2. medication rubbed on the inside of her ear = this made her vomit
3. radioactive injections

Radioactive !! To poor La-Lee? How frightening!
But that was now our only option. I couldn't imagine sending her off to a special hospital for this procedure and then leaving her there for a week while she became ... non radioactive! But that is what we did and how fortunate we were that such a clinic was near our home, so off she went.
There were 18 cats that checked in that day, all being sent for the same hyperthyroid treatment and all kept in individual isolation "suites". I was amazed. I had no idea this was such a common problem in cats, especially 13 years old and over.

I coughed up the $ so that I could watch her on my computer screen from early morning to late at night. It was worth the peace of mind.

I'd sent along an old green T-shirt I'd worn for her to sleep on. Somehow, I think it made her feel better. It certainly made me happier.

Here is the first picture of her in the hospital.
She is not radioactive, yet.
But she knew ... this wasn't home.
She's tucked back under ... on my green shirt.

The next day she had her radioactive procedure. I didn't know what to expect, how she would act. Would she be a sick-er cat? I knew she would be lonely, since they couldn't pet her.

So I checked out my computer screen to see what was happening.

I certainly didn't expect to see this.

Hey! Any room service here?!

We all survived her week being gone. She is now healthy, loves to eat, is no longer skinny or nervous. She is back to normal ... purring, sitting on my lap and keeping all the pillows nice and warm.

That's her job, you know ... that is when she isn't walking in front of the computer screen or pawing her way across the keyboard.

Wow ... I sure missed her and how lucky we are to still have her ... thanks to a second opinion!


  1. I have never heard of this in cats...but then I've learned over the years there are lots of things we people get that critters get as why not thyroid problems.

    I'm glad the second vet was so helpful getting the diagnosis figured out quickly too.

  2. Oh that is harrowing to be told that there is nothing to do for your kitty!
    And worse..almost guilted into it as well.
    My dear, so very glad you decided to opt for more!

    OUr little Elsie almost fared the same fate of a slow and painful end at the hands of our vet...She was ill and would not eat or drink..when she did, it came back up.
    So dehydrated and skinny, we took hjer in. They hydrated her and sent us away after blood tests showing nothing..but infered that she was just too old and would probably kick soon.

    Well, I decided to try a different food. The vet only sold one kind and ..well, she loves -to this day- her new food and she is pleasantly plump and happy!!!!

    Too bad some professionals give up on caring or can't decide to say..I don't know..instead they tell us the untrue things, because symptoms are beyond thier undersanding.
    We both have our lovely cats and that is the wonderful ending!

  3. the clinic seems very beautiful. I did not know a cat could be cured by radiotherapy.
    I'm happy to know she's going well now.

  4. Oh goodness! What an amazing story! It just goes to show that you have to follow your gut with your pets and stick with them to the end. It is good to hear that La-Lee is on the path to healing!
    By the way, La-Lee is gorgeous! I had a siamese/himalayan as a child. Her points were darker than La-Lee's and she had longer fur, but I still always gravitate to that color of cat!

  5. Thank goodness for great second opinions! She is beautiful!
    She is blessed to have the family she has! : )

  6. What a crazy whirl wind of a story. I am glad you got a second opinion. I love that they have a way for you to watch her while she is at the vet. I am glad she is getting better.

  7. Oh wow! How lucky you and La-Lee were to find that second opinion!
    I am so glad to hear that she is happy and healthy now!

    It worries me with my Tia getting older. She is eight years old in March. I know that isn't old but each year I worry about her getting any symptoms of kidney failure and other problems older cats are prone to.

    I have never heard of this in cats either. I have with dogs but not cats. Thank you for telling your story. Those of us with cats are sure to remember it if we ever get into difficulty with our vets!

    All the best, from Meg and cats xxx

  8. She is gorgeous Marvel, I love my cats even if they are barn cats and not inside ones, they do their job and love me even though I relegate them to the cold barn!!! My oldest cat (& years or so) appeared to have a mini stroke the other day. He was walking with his head tilted to one side and staggering. I tucked hi into a nice warm box and brought hi up to the house and was dreading to have to take him to the vet. The only reason that I didnt was that he still had a great appetite and day by day he has improved and now a week ater you can hardly see there is anything wrong. I did a lot of research on the internet and found some intereting encouraging things there, and saved a vet bill which I just can't afford. He is playng and the same loving cat he was before his attack.

    I hope you have changed your regular veterinarian!!! (((Hugs)))


  9. Thanks for sharing this information about Lalique. She sounds like she had similar to what my neighbor friend had 'Graves Disease'. Her treatment was also similar to your kitty.
    I'm glad she is better now. Lalique is one gorgeous cat. She looks well cared for and adored :)

    New Mexico

  10. What a scarey saga, and how good that you found the right diagnosis and treatment for your little sweetheart.

  11. She is a beautiful cat and very lucky to have you.

  12. GOOD FOR YOU for sticking to your guns. You know your - beautiful - cat far better than that idiot of a first vet.

    If you go to my blog, you will find an award there (you deserve it).

  13. oh my! What a scare! I did know cats could get this (dogs can too) but have never known one that actually did have it.

    Thank goodness you did not give up.

    I am, at present, cat-less except for the barn kitties. If I were ever to make that fateful leap again, it would have to be a Frosty The Barn Cat child. She is the most wonderfully attentive mother, kind barn cat, excellent mouser, good looking and patient cat I ever met and her kids are all the same way. Give your dear little kitty a stroke and snuggle from me.

  14. Oh no! I am so sorry you had this worry too!
    Our Hannah had thyroid problems when she was over 14. I am so, so happy that you got a 2nd and that your sweet baby is back with you where she belongs!


  15. I am a fan of cats too. Love the posts!


How nice of you to take the time to write. I appreciate your stopping by and do love hearing from you. Even though I cannot always reply to each comment, I enjoy reading them.

If you would like to leave a comment and do not have a google/blogger account, you're welcome to leave an anonymous comment.

I hope you enjoy visiting our little farm and meeting all our critters. We greatly enjoyed having you here.