Species: Cat Breed: Domestic Short Hair Age: 5-8 years
In March, Grayson suddenly started limping on his front left paw. We took him to the vet: blood tests and temperature were normal and X-rays showed nothing, so he was given a cortisone shot. That seemed to help for a few months, but then he started limping again, but this time it was on the right front foot. After throwing up a hair ball last week, he started panting. We rushed him to the vet. Blood tests were normal, his temperature was 100-degrees, no damage indicated on his foot, but this time they did a chest X-ray. It revealed a suspicious spot near his lung. The doctors reading the X-Ray thought that it might be a blood clot, but they were not sure. We took him home and gave him half a baby aspirin (under advice of vet), and the next morning he was his old self (but still limping, although not as bad). Since then, however, he seems to have gotten worse. Since March, Grayson has lost 2.6 pounds. He has a very good appetite and drinks plenty of water. No problems going to the litter box. He sleeps more than usual and is mildly lethargic, and doesn't interact with his feline siblings or play. The doctor suggested that we do an ultrasound of his chest cavity in 4 weeks, but he seems to have lost more weight in the past week and has now started limping on his left rear foot. We would greatly appreciate any recommendations. Thank you
Dr. Marie replied:
Hmmm....this is an unusual case.
The fact that we have limping combined with potential respiratory signs and weight loss certainly makes a heart problem along with a blood clot a distinct possibility. However, what doesn't fit is that the limping is changing from leg to leg. It would be extremely unlikely in my opinion that three limbs would get blood clot problems.
It's interesting that things were better after having the baby aspirin. But I am thinking that it was the anti-inflammatory effect of the aspirin that helped and not the anti-clotting effect.
There are no common issues that I can think of that would cause the symptoms that you are seeing in your cat. But, I can think of a few relatively uncommon ones.
Arthritis is a possibility. Usually we'll see changes on xrays consistent with arthritis but not always. Arthritis is not really common in a cat of this age though.
There are some infectious types of arthritis such as mycoplasma arthritis. You could ask your vet if this is a possibility. If it is a possibility then they may consider trying a course of an antibiotic called doxycycline.
Another possibility would be some type of lymphosarcoma (cancer). This type of cancer could be an explanation for the potential lung mass and the weight loss. It is not common for it to affect joints, but in theory it's possible.
It's also possible that there is some type of autoimmune disease present. However, I couldn't find many cases of autoimmune arthritis in cats.
Another possibility to ask your vet about is some type of fungal disease. A lesion in the chest along with shifting joint pain and weight loss could possibly be a sign of histoplasmosis. Histo is not common in all areas though so your vet can help you decide whether this is even possible in your area.
This is not a "normal" case. But, if this is a fungal or a mycoplasma infection then there is a good possibility that a cure can be found. Your vet will likely need to do more tests though.
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Dr. Marie - I forgot to mention that Grayson showed up on our doorstep about 4 years ago in terrible condition. He was scarred and battered from fighting with other cats, but he also had a broken jaw and 3 of his fang teeth were broken off. The vet suspected a car accident or kick from a horse, but he was healthy otherwise, and did not have FIV (thankfully). Since then, he has been indoor only. I also forgot to mention that the radiologist who examined his X-ray last week said one of his kidneys and spleen appeared to be slightly enlarged. The vet also said that his gums were pale, but since the blood work came back normal she wasn't worried about that. Thank you for your response and ideas about what is going on with this sweet baby. We are so worried about him.
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Dr. 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.
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