Pneumonia in cats full medical treatment | I spent over $15,000 to save my cat

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Most of the people have a happy smooth life with their pets. My experience with cats were great, they are normally healthy, sometimes minor illness but recover pretty soon. But this time, like a truck ran over me, it changed our life completely.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.

Because there were lack of information (in Chinese) about Pneumonia in cats on the internet, so I decide to share my full experience of Kimmy’s medical treatment. If your pet have similar situation you could take action earlier to prevent any tragic happens, and avoid extremely high medical expense. At the end of this article, I will provide pet disease, pet health,  and pet insurance information.

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The story begins

We adopted Kimmy in July, 2018 and She was 3 months old. She is indoor cat, and we choose high quality cat food no matter dry or wet, which are high protein, grain-free, and well balanced. We clean the house more frequently because of having Kimmy.

And something happened…

Pneumonia in cats full medical treatment

September, 2018 we started food transition, and that weekend we coincidently had friend visit, Kimmy were hiding in our room all day. We felt she is shy and its normal reaction for cats, and she still active after the guests leave. Just she ate less and sleep more.

We were a little bit worry about her but we examined the appearance she doesn’t have anything uncommon on eyes and nose, nor the cat poop. So we decide to monitor few days more.

However, the third day she is still no appetite and even not accept treats she used to love, the breath rate increased (70/min), we immediately arranged the earliest vet the next morning.

Day 1

We took her to the vet, and the doctor found she is in fever and a bit dehydrate, he asked to leave Kimmy in the vet for further inspection, including X-ray, and blood test.

In the afternoon the vet called, I was totally shocked. The doctor told me that Kimmy has serious fluid in her chest, she needs to take some fluid out and test them. Also, current symptom is 95% could be FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), we need to consider the worst scenario.

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▲A normal lung X-ray should be dark and clear shape, this lung is blur represents fluid inside.

FIP is one of the deadly disease of cat, every cat lover would scare to death to hear this word. Current medical treatment is not able to cure FIP, only to extend the time of death. There are some new medication is not yet published, still testing, or extremely expensive. My wife can’t believe what I just told her, we both immediately went to the vet to talk to the doctor in person.

Today we paid $1,100

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After a day temporary treatment, we need some time wait the test result (ELISA is faster but less accuracy, PCR test is more accurate but slower). We picked up Kimmy home. Our heart broken when we saw Kimmy have been shaved both side of her chest, and she is not moving most of the time. She is not closing her eyes for good rest, she can not walk stable, she is hard to get to use the litter… We decide to stay on the floor with her by the water, we kept talk to her to cheer her up, no matter what we will help her as much as we can, Kimmy you can not give up!

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Day 2

We almost didn’t sleep last night, so did Kimmy, and we can feel she is really painful. We asked some questions on Facebook FIP groups and have been told that after take the fluid out she should be doing much better. However, she is not so we took her to the vet for a pain relief shot. The doctor said the blood test result doesn’t seem to be FIP, the increase of white blood cells means somewhere in her body is infected. But FIP is not easy to confirm we still need another fluid test.

While waiting for the test we keep feed Kimmy high protein cans using syringe, and put nutrition supplements on her tooth to make sure she have enough energy. She sometimes showed the cats third eyelid, we were so scared.

Suddenly she coughed and something was under the towel, we found Kimmy’s baby tooth, how lucky we are! Me and my wife both cried and said to Kimmy, you will be all right, you are a miracle!

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Kimmy looks like feeling really bad, we called the vet and please to accelerate the test result. And we had a positive feedback: FIP NEGATIVE! (We appreciate so much the lab told the vet the test result before the official report is printed) So we may still have a chance to fight the disease. We went to the vet and have been transferred to an 24/7 ER.

The following story might involve some terminology, I am not a vet professional so I will be explaining it into more understandable words.

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After transfer they put Kimmy into an oxygen chamber, and did another quick test. The result shows some kind of bacteria infection in lung, in other words, it should be pneumonia in cats. They came up the treatment of:

  1. put chest tube and flush the infected chest
  2. take out the fluid every 6 hours
  3. test the fluid
  4. take X-ray
  5. take antibiotics
  6. repeat step 2 to step 5

Meanwhile they will send the fluid sample to the lab to test which antibiotic is the most effective. The first procedure needs to sign agreement, and choose whether to CPR if things gets bad.

After discussion the estimation was $5500-$7800, we paid without a blink. It was great relief that is not FIP but Kimmy is still sick very seriously, need to stay in the ER for days.

At the mid night, the vet called to inform that the chest tube is installed successful and start flushing, we went to the ER immediately to talk to the doctor in person to understand everything happened. (CPR once)

Day 3

The following days, we called the vet 7:30 in the morning to follow up before the shift. Also we visit ER everyday after work, if possible we will see Kimmy and talk to her and cheer her up. It is real heart breaking to see such a tiny body is full of tubes.

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Day 4

Kimmy started eating some baby food, but the doctor said the right lung seemd to be infected more seriously, the left chest tube is not gonna wash properly for the right side. So they suggest to implement the chest tube on the right side. This needs another anesthesia so that we signed the agreement again.

Today the bill becomes $7800-$9000.

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Day 5

The right chest tube installed and keep flushing, it seems Kimmy is getting better. She can be visit out of the crate, but she still breath fast and walk stagger.

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Day 6

While we expected she can get out of the ER today, the vet called that she was put into the oxygen chamber again. It is like riding the roller coaster, we were really down and upset.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.

Day 7

We visited the ER in the early morning to follow up, she is stable again and out of the oxygen chamber. The doctor gave us two options

  1. Continue current treatment and observe another 48 hours, if she is stable then we can remove the chest tube and take her home.
  2. Or we can do CT (Computed Tomography Scan) in order to find where exactly the problem is, and see if we need further surgery for it (open the chest and clean up). However, it needs another anesthesia, and the operation risk is unknown.

The doctor is not likely to five a positive answer, we have to make our own decision. We really hope she can keep up with the medication and current treatment instead of further operation. But no matter what there is risk, there is no right or wrong answer at this moment because she might be looking good now but no one can guarantee what will happen in the future. Finally we decide to go for option one, too keep up with current treatment.

Today the bill becomes $9000-12000.

Day 8

She is stable, we can only pray.

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Day 9

We finally got the test result for the bacteria (it need time to grow the bacteria so no way to expedite), the bacteria is called Actinomyces, and we confirm the current antibiotics is the most effective. We paid the bill of $11,000 (including 7 days stays in the ER treatment and 3 weeks antibiotic for Kimmy at home), and we take Kimmy home. The Doctor mentioned before Kimmy fully recover, she need to be keep in the crate to limit her activity, to prevent her from strenuous exercise cause breath rate increase. And do not stop antibiotic without further instruction.

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Day 10 – Day 15

Kimmy’s apetite is getting better, bright and alert to environment and human voice. We stopped pain relief in 3 days, her breath rate is about 40/min.

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Day 16

A week later we came back the home vet for X-ray re-check. The doctor mentioned the right lung is still having fluid, he needs second opinion to analyze. Due to Kimmy have antibiotic for long, she has soft stool, the doctor recommend to take FortiFlora and precription Urgent care pet food you can find the link below.

Purina Pro Plan Probiotics Cat Supplement; Veterinary Diets Fortiflora Feline Nutritional Supplement – 30 ct. Box

Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food 24/5.5 oz

Today I paid $400.

p.s. Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care needs prescription, regular pet food stores are not selling those, only get from online store or vet.

Day 17 – Day 21

We are still worried about Kimmy because of the X-ray, though she looks fine, but cats can’t talk and we are not able to see inside the chest, only observe her behavior. Current breath rate 35/min.

Day 22

According to the home vet and my vet friend, we decide to suck the fluid out again for two reasons.

  1. If too many fluid in chest, it will lower the antibiotic effectiveness.
  2. Afraid of the possibility that the bacteria mutate and anti our antibiotics

However, while we pick Kimmy up after work, the doctor told us he couldn’t take anything out. It is because there is some hard tissue to cover the fluid and absorbing them in separated chambers which is a good sign (means recovering). So we  decide to recheck the X-ray later on.

Today we paid $250.

Day 22 – Day 25
Free time for Kimmy is longer, if she behaves well she can get out of the crate for longer, if she starts running we will put her back to the crate.

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Day 26

After the X-ray, the doctor mentioned its getting better, continue to use antibiotic for two more weeks and recheck.

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▲Left bottom of the lung still have some fluid.

Day 56

The last X-ray check, the doctor announced that she is fully recovered. the onlything is soft stool which we continue to treat probiotics, if it’s not getting better in a month, then consider to test the poop.

In the end: we tested the poop but its normal, we continue the probiotics for 3 months and she is healthy and happy.

Adoption instead of purchase, be a responsible pet parent

Lastly, all doctors don’t know why a indoor cat get serious lung infection without any other symptoms. Also it happens very rarely without wound/hurt fighting with other cats outdoor. “Maybe just extremely bad luck.", “They will always surprise you." the doctors said.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.

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Some people have cats or dogs just for fun, but when we decide to adopt Kimmy, she is our daughter. If your child is very sick, I won’t believe someone would say “let it go, get another child". For human, you may have many pets in your life, but your pet only have you during their whole life.

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Some might say we are silly or stubborn, I understand everyone has different thoughts, this is our choice. Everyone knows this huge amount of money stands for, but saving a life is not countable by money. We are not wealthy, we tried to save as much as we can daily life. We just settled down in United States for a few years and just started our career.

Just at the moment we trying to build our own small family, the devastated experience occurred. It broke our plans, dreams, and took away everything we had. $15,000 can do so much more.

However, we decide to invest into the happiness for the future decades, we gave everything in order to save Kimmy. Even pneumonia in humans is hard to cure, it is even harder to cure pneumonia in cats. We are very lucky, because life is so fragile, many times even you have money you wouldn’t get a life back. As long as Kimmy can grow up healthy and safe, me and my wife is willing to work our ass off, I think this is the mini tiny wish for parents.

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By the time this article is being draft, Kimmy is not yet recovered, she takes antibiotics twice a day, live in the crate. We stay on the couch with her, the medical bill has not ended. No matter what, we can make money later on, but there’s only one life.

Reference (keep updating)

Highly recommend to read if you have a cat, especially cats don’t talk, and they are very good at hiding their true feelings. As a pet parent you will have to determine by the behavior, early detection of early treatment, don’t miss the early stage!

Lastly, I wish every fur babies can grow up healthy and happy, I will be focusing writing blog in pet health, pet insurance, pet photography… like and share if you feel my experience is inspire or helpful! Thank you.

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Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.

Special thanks to Serra Veterinary Hospital
—— Doctors and technicians really handsome and pretty (true), very professional and take good care of your pet.
Special thanks to United Veterinary Specialty & Emergency
—— Many doctors and technicians shift day and night, they have a lot of equipments very professional.
Special thanks to Dr. FengXi Tsai at Momonga vet in Taipei, Taiwan
——Dr. Tsai is professional in reptile.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation

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