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Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:28 am
by Benneh
Looking for some advice / help.

We rescued two neutered Tom's February last year.
At the cattery they'd had alot of dental work, so only had a few teeth remaining. Both weighed around 5 kilos.
Vets recommend one of them (George) should probably be around the 4 kilo weight ideally.

During the year they have been very affectionate, playful and we love them both.

May of this year, George required further dental work and had lost abit of weight (he was at 4 kilos at this stage).
Bloods were taken before the dental (we opted for the full works as we knew very little about his history) everything came back fine.
After the dental he was provided special foods which he was fine with but as time passed and weekly checkups he was losing weight at an alarming rate.

Examinations/checkups followed weekly thereafter for 2 months after which his weight dropped further to 3.1.
We did further blood tests and the vets noticed a slight elevation and wanted to do a biopsy to test for Fiv.
At this point George was very lethargic and his back leg muscles have wasted away (currently waddles around like John Wayne)

Now this is where we question if we did the right thing.
At this point George had been back and too to the vet and we thought he might just be stressed from the constant vet trips. So we told the vets we'd give him a break and see how he got on.

After two weeks of trying different things:
Microchip food bowl to stop the other cat eating all the food, new larger litter tray, about 5 different types of wet and dry food there was no improvement.

I broke down and booked an appointment with a different vet for a second opinion.

We did further tests and they noted the same elevations and asked to do a further blood test to check for tumors/cancer.
Results came back that it wasn't cancer.
We were then told that there's no sure way to test for Fiv but as we'd ruled everything out the assumption was FIV.

George's weight at this point was 2.8 kilo.

After this we switched George away from the kitten food and fatty food we'd been advised previously to just try and get him eating something. So we tried the "petit gourmet" pouches, which he loved he started eating, not much but more than he had been.
We also mixed in a small amount of colostrum to his food due to its bulking properties and immune system benefits which he didn't seem to mind.

After a week of his George had gone from eating less than 100g of wet food to eating just under 200g. Not back to where it should be but a start. He weighed around 2.9-3.1 kilo.
He also started eating a few royal canin senior biscuits.

We noticed George was licking stones alot around this time and reading about this it could be behavioural or a vitamin deficiency, he was also eating his cat litter which we quickly changed to a wood pellet based to stop this.

But he was bright eyed, bushy tailed and his coat had improved.

Since then he's gone down hill again going by our best estimates he's about 2.6-2.8 kilo now and is eating less than before.

Grabbing a piece of ham (smallest amount as we know its not good for him), raw mince or cooked chicken gets his attention and he will eat things like that fine to a point.

He doesn't seem to be in pain.
He's very lethargic and isolates himself in the spare bedroom.
But on occasion he will come through to see us, make a little meow and jump onto our bed and snuggle between us.
He pleads with us to go outside at times which breaks our hearts.

We don't know if we are doing what's right by him.

Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated we'd love to get him back to full health, we know that may not be the outcome but we want to exhaust every possible route before we have to take that route (before he can't cope)

Thank you

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:07 pm
by Kay
I've recently been down a similar path with my 17 year old Tiffany - loss of weight going on for over a year and increasing lethargy, but normal blood tests and in her case always hungry, but not tolerating fatty food

after more than a year her stomach became full of fluid, which the vet initially put down to heart failure - it was drawn off and strong diuretics prescribed, but it came back within 24 hours, so I knew the end had come - reviewing her symptoms with the vet, it is very likely that she had a cancer, and probably dating back to the first loss of weight

blood tests can't rule out cancer ... e&ie=UTF-8 and I can see now I was lulled into a false sense of security by the normal results, and should have pursued other reasons for the weight loss - but it is easy to put such things down to the aging process

I'm no expert, but I think probably at this stage an ultrasound is needed - but then if a tumour is found it is likely incurable, and it doesn't sound as if your boy is strong enough for agressive treatments - cats hide pain well, and I think in your position I would put him on pain killers and prepare for the end - not a comfortable thought, but managing the end of life is so important, and doing it well does bring comfort looking back - I said goodbye to Tiffany on Wednesday, and I knew then and know now it was the right thing to do

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:32 pm
by Benneh
Sorry to hear about Tiffany.
It's so hard to say goodbye to a pet, I've said a fair few.

We'll enquire about an ultra sound next week and see where things go from there.
I'll also ask about any pain killers they can prescribe.

I think we know deep down he's approaching that stage but we would just like to try and get him happier in himself for a little while

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:27 pm
by booktigger
I think you are getting your initials wrong, and thinking of FIP, it can happen in senior cats but very rare (well, it's very rare overall). I've never known blood tests to be able to rule out cancer though. Pica is definitely something to worry about, but it should show on a blood test. I'd think cancer over FIP due to timescales. Not sure I'd bother with an ultrasound, as there is nothing to indicate which part is best to scan, but I'd certainly ask about painkillers, my neighbour lost one of hers to lung cancer in the new year, and they definitely helped him.

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:30 pm
by Benneh
Hi booktigger

We are in the UK (Shropshire). We did some research into FIV and saw that most diagnoses is done through blood test, so we weren't sure why they wanted to do a biopsy hence why we went to a different vet for the second opinion.

Okay maybe the blood tests don't rule out all cancers but due to the elevations they were seeing they did a blood test which would check for certain markers caused by cancer that would cause what they were seeing.
I'm not 100% sure on what was elevated now but basically the only things likely to cause what they were seeing were certain cancers or FIV.
That second test came back as not showing any traces of cancer. So the assumption of FIV.

I'm no expert on this stuff and just putting here what I've been told by the vet.

As kay described in her reply she trusted the vets and didn't investigate into further things.
My confidence has been shaken with my vet due to how they've handled things and their strange request to perform a biopsy so we went elsewhere got abit more sense but the vets seem too concerned with proving its FIV when they say there are very slim chances of proving it.

Currently looking around the area at other vets and seeing if any of them will give George the care he needs.

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:32 pm
by booktigger
Sorry, I've edited my post, you might want to read my new comments. There is no definitive test for FIP sadly, if they have the wet form, then testing the fluid gives a fairly accurate answer, not sure about a biopsy.

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:51 pm
by Benneh
I'll contact the vets tomorrow to confirm which it is.

I'm fairly certain it's FIV as I was sure to check with them last time asking the vet if they were saying FIP or FIV. They said fiv.

A relative lost a cat to FIP (kitten) a couple of years ago (before we reached out two) so we have some idea what FIP is and how it acts but we'll confirm and make sure all the facts are straight.

However if its FIP I'd expect both cats to have it as they are very close. The other cat has a tendency to clean George's backside (ever since we've had them)

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:06 pm
by booktigger
If they say FIV, then ask why they cant do an Elisa test, it's not 100% accurate but gives a result in minutes. Some will prefer to send straight to the lab for the accurate IFA, but that takes about a week. I'm puzzled why they would jump to FIV for those symptoms though, what do you know about their history?

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:16 pm
by Benneh
Not alot.

They were rescued from a house hold where the lady developed dementia and had 13+ cats.

George had been living under the floor boards and only ate scraps the others had left (or so we've been told)

They had alot of dental before we rescued them.
Originally told he was 4/5 years1. Then upon going to see him told 6/7 upon collecting him told somewhere around 9.
Basically they didn't have a clue. (I'm not sure why they didn't check by their teeth. Even our vet didn't check when doing the dental but said that he thought he was definately an older cat.)

We were also told George had a heart murmur but none of our vets have ever heard anything wrong with his heart.
He had coughing and vomiting issues when he first came to us but that cleared up after a few months. (again looking into that the vomiting was due to his fur. He's very fluffy. I think he has maincune in him somewhere.)

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:45 pm
by booktigger
Some vets say it is hard to age by teeth, probably made harder by his history. Was he neutered before the rescue took them?

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:01 pm
by Benneh
Not sure.
I think they were done upon entering the cattery.

Re: Potential FIV+, severe weight loss in senior

Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:50 am
by Mollycat
Benneh wrote: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:32 pm I think we know deep down he's approaching that stage but we would just like to try and get him happier in himself for a little while
I've only read about both FIP and FIV and can't really comment further than to say it doesn't sound much like either to me. It would be kind of important to know what bloods were slightly elevated. There are so many issues a senior cat can suffer from that can provoke weight loss. But FIV is a blood test so if a biopsy is needed that would be FIP. Plus, FIP does not develop in all cats that have the coronavirus.

We have just 10 days ago lost our boy aged 15, for the past few months the main symptoms were weight loss, inappetance and chronic diarrhoea. We finally got the back end and the appetite under control with steroids without a diagnosis because a ton of tests would not have been in his best interests as his age and multiple issues meant it would be unlikely he could offer him any more than the symptom control of steroids anyway. They gave him a few weeks of comfort and happiness and gave us the joys of some special memories to keep, but quite quickly more issues came to the fore. The final crisis came with some kind of infection or inflammation that stopped him peeing properly and despite getting his fever down within 24 hours it was clear we had only one way left to help him.

I am not advocating giving up, just supporting taking a step back and thinking carefully about George's quality of life, the chances after all these tests of finding a cause and the value of treatment options, what's available on the scale from cure to symptom management, and a very frank and open discussion with the vet about your priorities for him. If he is bright and happy but a little sleepy and thin, not in pain or distress, then perhaps this is your best guide to what's best for him?