Question about wounded 15-year-old cat

alisandeNovember 19, 2009

Mickey was a feral kitten and has been fearful all his life. For 15 years, he's been an indoor barn cat, living in several adjoining (heated) rooms in our big barn. He used to have cat companions, but one by one they have all passed on. I think Micky must have had mixed feelings about this because even though he's a large cat he was always the lowest in the feline pecking order. Now he's alone except for when my son or I are there; I take care of Mickey's food, water, and litter, and my DS is in and out often since much of the barn is a work area for him.

Even so, my son has never been able to get close to Mickey. I'm the only one who can lure him out of hiding and pick him up. Once he's in my arms, Micky presses his face against me and purrs and purrs. But it can be hard to get him there.

Last weekend I discovered that Mickey felt noticeably lighter and hadn't eaten much of his dry food. I switched him to canned, and made it soupy, thinking he might have a problem with his mouth. He ate it all up. But then I saw a large wound on his leg. A full 2" of hide was missing. It looked as though he'd had the injury for a while, and it appeared to be healing. But I called the vet on Monday.

The vet put a rigid plastic cone collar on him and said he'd have to spend the next couple of weeks in a place where there was no chance of him hiding and getting the collar caught in a place where I couldn't get to him. Also, I'd have to clean the wound every day and administer a daily antibiotic pill. So I set Mickey up in the house, in the downstairs bathroom--away from my house pets and in a space with no hiding places.

That was on Monday. Today, Thursday, I'm thinking he was doing better in the barn. He's using the litter box and the bed that I put in the bathroom for him, and he always purrs in response to being picked up or petted on my lap. But he seems to be eating less that he was a couple of days ago. And even though the wound doesn't look any worse to me, I'm noticing that it smells. It's not a strong smell, but I didn't detect it all all before.

The vet told me to wipe the wound with antibacterial soap and water. Should I be doing anything further with it? She said Mickey's mouth was fine, so she didn't know why he was rejecting his dry food. He has been eating cat treats, though.

My son suggested that he close off one of Mickey's old rooms in the barn--a space with no hiding places. He's going to install a door there tomorrow, so perhaps Mickey will perk up if he gets back in familiar territory. But I also wonder if that cone collar might have him thoroughly spooked, too.

Also, giving him the pill is quite a struggle. I'm wondering if I can mash it into a powder, dissolve in a little liquid (water or tuna juice?), and administer it with a syringe type device. The collar makes everything hard!

Thanks for letting me share. I have no idea how Mickey got hurt in the first place, but I hate seeing this sweet, timid cat so...

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You can probably have some luck getting at least some of the pill into Mickey in a liquid form, but why not just ask your vet for a Convenia injection? Convenia is a 2 week long lasting antibiotic injection- no need to treat the cat at home. I use it *all the time* for cat wounds, including but certainly not limited to skin infections, ear infections, urinary tract infections, and dental disease.

If Mickey had a fever or was in pain, that often is enough to make a cat stop eating. Did the vet even look at Mickey's teeth? Other problems such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, liver disease, and heart disease can all make a cat not want to eat. Those diseases would be seen on bloodwork. Usually a good listening to the heart and lungs is enough to determine if there is a serious disease there. But the other disease- hyperthyroidism, liver, or kidney disease would need bloodwork to see. If he has a problem in any of these areas, then he isn't likely to recover with just antibiotics and an e-collar.

I hope you can get some answers for Mickey.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 7:53PM
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Thanks, Meghane! I'll call her tomorrow about the Convenia (good name) shot.

She did look at his teeth, and remarked that he had a full set and they appeared to be in great shape--a little surprising at his age. She listened to his heart and lungs, too. No bloodwork at this time.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 8:06PM
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Since you said the wound was healing at the time you discovered it, why is a collar now needed?

The collar may be preventing him from eating if he can't easily get to his food & water bowls, plus I'd question putting it on a cat that's not easily handled. Me.......I'd take it off and see if he'll at least eat better.

At his age he's probably totally freaked at having a e-collar around his neck.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 11:46PM
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I'd certainly opt for complete bloodwork on a 15 yr old cat who is experiencing weight loss and inappetance. In fact, I'd get bloodwork done immediately.

Are you sure that he can access his food and water bowls with his e-collar on? It's possible he can't even reach into his bowls to eat and drink.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 11:48PM
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Ann, the vet said he needed the collar because cats can worsen a wound with their rough tongues, and also because their mouths carry a lot of germs. Yes, I'm sure he hates it, but I know it's not preventing him from eating because . . . .

I have good news to report! When I got home from work last night (I work evenings) I found that he'd eaten all of his canned food. I gave him some more, and he got right to it, eating most of it up while I watched. This morning I noticed that he even ate some of his dry food during the night.

Also, he has stopped hiding. He had been crouching in the shower, even though I put a soft bed for him in another part of the room. Now he's using the bed. He seems more active, too. I'm encouraged!

Thank you all for the input and support.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 8:52AM
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Not having much more to add (I do agree, Convenia is great for a feral/semi feral cat - it might be a bit pricey but giving the convenience, it is well worth it) - I just wanted to say, how nice of you to take care of the old guy :) We need more caring people like you!

It has also been my experience that cats eat crushed up antibiotics pills (mixed with wet food) rather well - unlike Drontal, the dewormer, which they all despise. That is also worth a try, if Convenia is not an option...

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 9:26AM
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I probably would not do complete blood work on a 15 year old barn cat. It may sound mean, but frankly how much money and time are you going to invest, if the blood test shows something wrong?

One problem with the semi-feral barn cats, is that its very difficult to give them daily medication without traumatizing them even more.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 12:58PM
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Thank you, Olyagrove--it worked! At least it worked with Ocean Whitefish and Tuna canned food; he turned up his nose at another flavor. But I figure if I end up wasting a few pills I can always get replacements from the vet.

My only concern now is that the wound still smells. Should I be concerned, or is the smell to be expected for a while? I held a folded tissue against the wound for a couple of second to see if it was oozing, but I saw only the faintest pink dot.

Joepyeweed, I hear what you're saying--and my finances are far from unlimited--but I'm quite fond of Mickey. The fact that he has been an indoor barn cat has made him more of a pet than most barn cats. When my husband was living, he spent a lot of time in his office in the barn, and we all enjoyed the cats.

Mickey, and my dog, Wolfy, are the last of the pets that were here when my husband and daughter Jill were alive. That adds to their specialness to me.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 8:18PM
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I am glad it worked!

Mickey does sound like such a special kitty...

For wounds, I get antibiotic powder that can be sprinkled right on the wound. In my native country, Russia, one can also buy antibiotic powder for wounds and burns (at a drug store), for people - we would use it for people and animals. It helps heal much faster.
I wonder if your vet would have something like that? I can look up the name of the stuff I bought from my vet, if it will help

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 8:26AM
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The wound has been getting worse instead of better. On Saturday, I noticed that it smelled bad, and I called the vet. They told me to come in on Monday (today).

As I'd feared, the infection is bad. The vet thought it smelled "almost like gangrene." The focus now is on saving his leg, although I donÂt think IÂd consider amputation to be an option at his age (15). We went through that with a dog years ago. It was quite an ordeal for her, but she was a lot younger. And we had a lot more money then.

The vet gave him fluids under his skin and a DMSO treatment. She gave him two shots of antibiotics (two kinds), plus a steroid.

I have to soak his leg with warm water and Epsom salts, for 15 minutes, four times a day. Then I have to squirt DMSO on the wound. I have to keep the bathroom floor mopped, and change his bed every day. And give him a liquid antibiotic twice a day.

So far I did one of the soaks. Mickey tried to lunge out of the sink a few times, but mostly he didn't fight. I was hoping he could just stand in the water, but he had to sit. I had to bend over, and it was harder on my back that I'd anticipated. Afterward, his towel and my apron went right into the washing machine.

All I can say is IÂm glad IÂm off work all week, and IÂm glad I hadn't planned to prepare and serve a Thanksgiving dinner.

Let's hope and pray this works.

Since you said the wound was healing at the time you discovered it, why is a collar now needed?

Good question. The wound looked much better when I first brought him in a week ago. Today the vet took his collar off and said maybe he can get some of the infection out by licking. Then she changed her mind and said cats' mouths are filthy and their tongues like sandpaper, so they can do a lot of damage. So she put the collar back on.

I pointed out that he must have been licking it before I discovered it, and it looked not bad a week ago, but she said it looked much bigger than it should have because of licking.

What are you opinions on licking?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 7:10PM
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You don't want the cat licking the wound... what I have done in the past, is when the pet is under my supervision, I take the collar off and just correct the behavior (stop the licking) ...when I can't watch the pet then I put the collar back on... so the collar isn't on all the time, its just when I can't supervise and stop the licking.

Best of luck to you and your kitty.. the shot plus the bathing should help.

And yes, bending over the sink is very hard on the back. If you have a big plastic tub that you can set on a table, so you can be seated while you bathe the wound, it will make it easier on your back.

If you do use a container, make sure you spritz it with bleach solution,and let it set, for at least 20 minutes for disinfection, after each bath.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 4:17PM
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Here's a link to Susan's post on another forum!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mickey's Better

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 5:14PM
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