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Medical mystery (4 replies)

Bobby R
6 months ago
Bobby R 6 months ago

Not only am I confused, but my trusted family veterinarian is stumped.  I am in need of advice or direction.  

I adopted my cat a year and 2 months ago.  She is only a year old this past July, she is the sweetest little cat.  A week after adoption I brought her to the vet for her shots and license and her doctor was happy with her appearance and his findings from his initial exam.  A year later, about the second week of this past July I had noticed some swelling on her left front paw.  Just her paw, it did not spread past her what we would call her ankle area.  It was noticeably swollen with mild pain to touch but not warm to touch.  I had called the vet and scheduled to bring her in the next day.  Come time for her appointment, I noticed the swelling had subsided.  My vet was generous enough to spare me the office visit fee and told me to bring her in if I see any additional swelling.  

Two days later, I had notice her other front paw was swollen.  Exactly the same as the other paw.  I brought her straight in.  His findings revealed what I had felt 2 days prior, mild pain with no warmth to touch.  He gave her some antibiotics in case of infection.  That same night the swelling had subsided after only the first dose of antibiotics.  Now with my  expierience in the medical profession, (paramedic) antibiotics won't show such results after just one dose.  So I went to bed confused. 

A few days go by without any additional swelling until I notice her left rear paw swollen. Now I'm baffled.  But it gets better.  I call the vet, I explain that the antibiotics were started and swelling subsided after one dose and didn't notice any swelling until this rear paw episode.  I did not continue the antibiotics to see if the swelling would subside and he agreed with my decision.  Sure enough it did, about 2 days later.  So now I'm saying to myself "OK, I should be expecting the other rear paw to swell up any day now". Well I was wrong.  It was her right eyebrow area.  WTH. This lasted a day or so.  This are starting to get a little ridiculous.  

For those of you reading I apologize for the lengthy post but bare with me it gets more mysterious.  

After the right eye swelling went away her left eyebrow swelled up for a few days.  She was given some eye ointment and I treated her eye as directed.  That lasted for three days til the swelling was gone.  

If your wondering about the remaining paw not getting its turn.... well it does now.  This is where blood work was done.  All lab results were unremarkable.  Now I'll speed things up a bit and tell you that her paws swelled up again one at a time in the same order.  After this second rotation of paw swelling her chin blew up. All this time with vet visits.  He is confused and now starting to talk about referrals to specialists.  Now I'm not made of money but this a family member we are talking about.  But come on, give this kitty a break.  

After her chin episode, her whisker areas swelled up one at a time.  Then her eyes had their second chances one at a time.  

Now we have tried changing foods, hypoallergenic foods were bought, scented/unscented, clumping/non clumping litters were switched up.  

We then thought we had found the right combination and possibly stumbled across what she was having a reaction to and she had zero episode for about 2 months.  

Here we are about a week and a half ago and now her right leg was swollen up to the shoulder.  This lasted for about 6 days.  While worrying about that we get hit with Hurricane Irma and evacuate taking her with us of course.  

Upon our return home on September 11th (2 days ago) her leg was looking normal now today the base of her left ear was swollen for about 3 hours and then returned to normal.  

Is there anyone out there that maybe, just maybe seen something like this before???  I feel terrible for my Penelope.  

Melissa Smith
6 months ago
Melissa Smith 6 months ago

Hi Bobby! One thing that immediately comes to mind is some sort of allergic reaction. Could she be walking in/playing in or even possibly inhaling something that isn't agreeing with her? Does she go outdoors?

Bobby R
6 months ago
Bobby R 6 months ago

 No, she is strictly an indoor cat.  We have changed so many possibilities.  I don't know what else to do.  

6 months ago
GeriD 6 months ago

Hi. Interesting post. Poor little Penelope. You mentioned "blood work". Did the vet do any kind of biopsy of any of the swollen areas? Did the vet mention if the edema was limited to her tissues, or say anything about her lymph nodes? Any xrays or suggest an echo to check her heart?

She definitely has a fluid imbalance of some sort for some reason. Certainly an allergy of some sort is a distinct possibility. I would think particularly so because it apparently comes and goes. Even though she's an indoor cat, doesn't mean she can't be allergic to something in her surroundings.

You mentioned evacuating due to Hurricane Irma. Are you in the islands, Florida or Georgia? Meaning you're in a warm climate somewhere. Heat, humidity...bugs. Don't need to go outside to get nipped, bit or stung by something. Bugs love to come inside, so does pollen.

You mentioned her paws -- something perhaps that she's walking on -- litter as you mentioned -- but also a cleaning product perhaps, something you might use on your floors or rugs. Or a clothing detergent, since you also indicated it has appeared on areas of her face, and head. Something she's rubbing against, or lying on. Does she have a favorite area that she loves to go or sleep? Do you have plants?

I would start to keep a journal, when where the swelling occurs, where was the cat that day? Where did she sleep, what did she eat, to see if you can help isolate any sort of pattern to the swelling when/where/why it might occur. It can be really tricky to try and determine what the allergen might be (if it is an allergen) as many of us humans who suffer with allergies know. 

Illness is, of course, a very different issue. But is Penelope sick? Is she lethargic when the swellings occur? Does she seem in pain? Is there a change to her appetite? Any nausea, vomiting or diarrhea? Constipation? More or less urine? Any discharge from her eyes, nose, ears, or mouth? Is she more verbal, or less verbal or no change?

I would speak very openly and honestly with your vet. I'm not sure why he might be confused, or what might be confusing him, or why he thinks a specialist might be necessary. Surely during his career he has encountered a cat (and dog) who has a fluid imbalance (it's not as rare or unusual as one might think. Google it, you'll see), and he should be able to point you in a very clear direction of what needs to be done, or does not need to be done.

If he doesn't or can't, then, definitely I would make an appointment with another vet for a check up and 2nd opinion about her and her struggles with recurring edema in different areas of her little body.

Best of luck to you and Penelope. Send her my love. Let me know how you make out, and how she's doing.


Melissa Smith
6 months ago
Melissa Smith 6 months ago

Geri, awesome post! Fantastic ideas - I am very curious to see what this might end up being.

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