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Trouble waking and dandruff.

Species: Cat
Breed: tabby
Age: 5-8 years
My male, neutered cat came from the back alley. I can't remember if we initally had his shots along with the neutering. He goes outdoors in the summer, and stays indoors in the winter. I have 3 other cats in the house also, of which one of them has always breathed raspy - same age.
When i adopted him in, his eyes were always running. I cleaned them out each night and dropped antibiotic drops for about a month. It cleared up nicely, but now & then they become runny and sometimes it looks like blood for tears. I showed it to the vet & he didnt seem concerned. He also gained a bit of weight, up to 18 lbs.
Anyhow, the past few months he looks like he has dandruff on his back & it must be discomforting because he pulled his hair out. So i bought some special shampoo at the vet, & after a week of treatment it cleared up. The dandruff has since returned.
Also, the past few months, he has lost his zest for eating, & sometimes bypassed their nightly supper. I recently weighed him & he is down to 14 lbs. His eyes are crusty again, & around his eyes look different. His ears also have little scabby hard crusty things that can be scratched off. For the past few days now, he's having a hard time walking, looks like his hind legs are real sore. What is my Buddy's problem? I will call in & book him a vet appt as soon as he can get in. If i have an idea of what it is i can get meds sooner from a friend who keeps animals.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that Buddy is not feeling well. A few of the symptoms that you have described have me worried. Any time I see significant weight loss in a cat there is a medical issue. I'm also concerned by the fact that he doesn't want to eat and that he is having trouble with his back legs.

Does Buddy drink much water? Have you noticed changes in how much urine he is producing in the litter box? The reason I am asking is that it is possible that he has diabetes. Cats with diabetes will often have a very scruffy hair coat. They can get a problem with their back legs called diabetic polyneuropathy which affects the muscles in their back legs so that they end up walking on their hocks and having very weak hind legs.

If this is diabetes, it is treatable, but it takes a lot of work and can be a little costly. It also involves regular communication with your veterinarian.

If this is diabetes and Buddy is losing his appetite then he may be developing something called DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). This is a condition where a cat develops something called ketones as a result of the diabetes. DKA is a life threatening problem and is very serious. For this reason I would advise that you don't wait any longer than you have to to take him to the vet's. If you are able to have him seen today this could be the difference between life and death for Buddy.

Your vet will do some blood and urine tests and should be able to tell very easily whether this is diabetes, DKA, or something else.

Now, there are other possibilities. If this were my case and the tests did not show diabetes then I would be running a feline leukemia and FIV test. Any time I see an outdoor kitty who has multiple vague illnesses I wonder if there is an underlying disease like this. Unfortunately there is no cure for either of these diseases.

Another possibility that could be something that can be treated is a blood parasite called hemobartonella (or mycoplasma felis). Hemobart can cause all sorts of problems. It usually comes from a flea bite.

There really isn't an answer to Buddy's problems without doing blood tests. I wouldn't advise getting medication from a source other than your veterinarian.

I hope he can be seen soon, and I pray that the results are good.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

He's not yet walking on his hocks. I thought of diabetes and decided to try & see if a change in his diet would help. I cut him off the nightly wet cat food friskies and dry food IAM's and started feeding him a couple tablespoons of raw buffalo meat through the day & today i will give him raw pickeral fish. He wanted to eat the canned food last night with the rest but I gave him the buffalo. He seemed content and ate it right up. I wonder if this canned food "friskies" is not good for them? I swear he is doing a little better, but that may be my imagination.
He's not drinking a lot of water as far a i can tell, & I haven't noticed him urinating frequently. But i will keep a closer eye.
It's sunday today, a very slim chance to get him in to see a vet. I live in a small town. Tomorrow im starting college & can't miss a day because i'm being sponsored. But, i can call the vet in the morning and see if they will take him after or before classes.
Thank you for your prayers, Buddy is my #1 cat and i love him very much. He is my snuggly wugglys.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hmmm....if he really isn't drinking more and urinating more then diabetes is unlikely. I should point out, just for interests' sake, that when cats have diabetes it can't be treated with just a diet change. Insulin is always needed. Also, Iams is a pretty decent food. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. I wrote an article about Iams and some internet rumors here.

I'm glad you are able to take him in in the morning. Feel free to reply if you have questions after his visit.

Dr. Marie

Customer reply:

Took Buddy in this morning. Cleaned out his enflamed ears and examined for mites - none. Dr took a blood sample and gave him an antibiotic shot. Just got a call from the vet on the blood test results. He has an elevated white blood cell count so he's sending his blood away for a leukemia test. & he thinks he has a chronic infection. no other signs of anything else. He wants to put him on more anitbiotics and de-wormer treatment. Costed me close to $200! but he's worth it.
I asked the vet to check his record to see if he got his shots when he was neutered, nope - none at all. can't believe it!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for the update. I hope things work out well for him.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.