Illness in a Multi Cat Household

by Rita Reimers

As you know, I share my happy home with 10 wonderful felines. No, I didn’t set out to become the “Kra-zee Kat Lady” but I have accomplished that station in life nonetheless. I love each and every one of my kitties and I could not imagine my life without any of them.

But over the last two weeks, I had a strange virus infect my brood, and it was very serious. I have never seen anything make my cats so sick, and I watched as it spread from one to another to another. It started with my 14-year-old, Sebastian. Throwing up and diarrhea were accompanied by a severe loss of appetite, and of course it began on a Friday evening. It quickly spread to my two 10-year-old twins, Trouble and Sweet Pea, and it was those two who were hit the hardest. Abby was also showing signs, but she has IBS and is also prone to very bad hair balls plus a finicky appetite, so it was hard to tell if what she has was something other than her usual problems.

By Monday it had spread to 5-month-old Peanut (aka Peanut Butter), who despite throwing up was still running around the house like a fearless lion. He and 6-month-old Boo-Boo were set to be neutered the next day, but I cancelled that and brought Trouble and Peanut in to see Dr. Reina.

Dr. Reina couldn’t put his finger on just what was going on. Peanut had a fever so we put him on antibiotics, and since he was still strong enough to fight me (my arms were bloody from the struggle to get him into his carrier), the doctor gave him subq fluids rather than have me do it at home. I was sent home with two bags of fluid and a handful of needles, with instructions to give these fluids to Trouble, Sweet Pea, and Sebastian (and again to Peanut if needed).

I was able to give them all the subq fluid without any fighting, that’s how bad they all felt. Peanut went into the closet after I gave him his antibiotic, and all still refused to eat.  By Tuesday morning, Peanut was eating and was no longer having any signs of illness, so I wasn’t as worried about him anymore. Sebastian had begun to eat a bit so I was feeling better about him too. But Sweet Pea and Trouble were still so sick that on Tuesday evening I had my mobile vet, Dr. Fox, come over to take a look at them. Because they are both such big cats, Dr. Fox and I were very concerned about their lack of appetite. Although they weren’t depressed and lethargic, it was still worrisome that they had gone so long without food.

Dr. Fox gave Trouble and Sweet Pea each a vitamin B shot to help with their lack of adequate nutrition over the last several days, and he also gave me some transdermal medications for acid stomach and nausea. These would hopefully settle their tummies so they would feel more like eating and to stop them from throwing up. I was to continue the subq fluids. As soon as Dr. Fox left, Sweet Pea threw up all over the bed, and I was up until midnight washing the bed linens. Barely an hour after the clean sheets and spread were back on the bed, she threw up again.

The next day, Wednesday morning, Precious joined in with diarrhea and throwing up.  Pinky also had a touch of diarrhea but was eating fine. Sweet Pea was now beginning to eat, and by mid day was following me into the kitchen to ask for food. Sebastian was back to normal completely. But Trouble still refused to eat. I stopped by Dr. Fox’s house and he gave me yet another transdermal gel, prescription strength Pepcid. I gave it to Trouble, Sweet Pea, and Precious.  All during this time, I had pet sits to do, and I disinfected myself and put on fresh clothes before going to care for my client’s cats, just as a precaution since we really didn’t know what kind of illness were dealing with. I was exhausted from being up all night and all day nursing my cats and caring for other people’s cats. I don’t know how people with children manage it.

By Thursday afternoon, Trouble started eating at long last! It was over 5 days since his last meal and I was so relieved to see him eat a little bit. Precious hadn’t stopped eating for very long, thanks to the medications, and Pinky thankfully never had any symptoms after that one bout with diarrhea. We still had some diarrhea going on with the a few of the older cats, but no more throwing up thankfully.

Friday everyone showed more improvement and I was sure the rest of my cats were going to get away without becoming ill.  But then Smokey began throwing up on Saturday morning. I again broke out the medications for acid tummy and applied them to his ear right away.

It’s now Monday night. After 10 days of illness and some very real concern that I was going to lose my two 10-year-olds, we are on day 2 of no illness! Punkin and Boo-Boo managed to make it without ever becoming ill, I am happy to say, but 8 of my 10 had come down with some degree of this illness. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be aware of changes in your cat’s behavior, including elimination habits and especially eating habits. It takes more vigilance when you have multiple cats to keep track of everyone’s state of health, but it is even more important when you have several cats. Had I not been on top of things and called my veterinarians right away, the consequences could have been much more serious.

Rita August 26, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Thanks Laura,

I am glad to hear that Cosmo is doing better, but sorry to hear that Sunny is now not feeling well. Please keep me posted about how they are doing, and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

See you at Slimmons!

Laura Silverman August 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

I’m so glad that everyone appears to be recovering. Although only dealing with two dogs, it’s also difficult with Cosmos in end-stage Kidney Failure. I’ve been so focused on his care, that it was very easy not to notice some signs of trouble of a different surfacing in Sunny.

Fortunately, Cosmos seems to have bounced back to a certain degree and instead of having to put him down imminently, we’re now back to watching a very old and ill dog get some intense enjoyment out of life… at least for a little while longer.

But what if this hadn’t been the case? The signs that something was amiss with Sunny were there… getting so tired even on a short walk where characteristically, he would drag me for miles… and I probably wouldn’t have responded. As it is, I’m taking him in to Rebecca (his Dr. Florio at Chat Oak Veterinary Clinic) next week for an evaluation. And I’m praying that we don’t have a situation on our hands as serious as Cosmos.

My point, of course being, it’s really important to focus on the health of all of our pets, even as one’s issues might dominate the medical world at the moment.

Thanks for writing this article. It’s an important one!



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