Monday, May 28, 2007

Kitty Update

Because people keep asking how he's doing, and because the internet exists for people to talk about their cats (well, the parts that don't exist for porn), I thought I'd post an update on the state of no-longer-so-little Vir Catto.

To recap: Vir is the kitty I found mewing pitifully in my driveway in September of 2005, after his mother gave birth to him there and buggered off. Now, ever since he was a tiny scrap of a kitten, I've noticed that Vir's breathing sounded kind of loud and perhaps a little bit wheezy. Initially, it didn't seem very alarming, but as he's grown from being so tiny I had to weigh him on a postage scale into his current 21-pound-monster self, the noise grew, too, and in recent months I'd really begun to worry about it. Now, he's never really seemed sick. He doesn't cough; he doesn't sneeze or leak snot; he never seems to have attacks where he really can't catch his breath. But, more often than not, he sounds sort of like a slightly-squeaky Darth Vader. So I took him to the vet, and the vet thought he most likely had asthma and started him on a course of corticosteroids and a host of other drugs.

Well, none of that seemed to help at all, which surprised the vet a bit, because asthma is apparently very common in cats and is usually the answer when it's a chronic issue like this, but asthma pretty much always responds to steroids. So I took him back in to have them look into what I guess is the second most common cause of breathing issues in cats, which is heart trouble. I'm deeply relieved to be able to report that his little kitty heart seems to be absolutely fine. (And also, though far more incidentally, that an EKG for a cat costs rather less than I'd expected it to.)

The vet's current opinion is that, while it's not impossible that there's some sort of problem with his lungs, the most likely possibility is that there's some partial obstruction in his airway: a growth or a birth defect of some sort. He thinks it's kind of unlikely to be a polyp, as the noisy breathing seems to have started when he was a baby, and polyps tend to occur in adult cats. So he thinks it's very likely Vir has a slightly deformed palate or something. In which case, he'll probably just have to live with it, as surgery on that part of the body is apparently kind of difficult, and totally not worth it given that it's not really causing him any great distress.

Now, in a human, or even in a dog, what they'd do is take a flexible endoscope, thread it through the respiratory passages, and get a look at exactly what's going on in there. Apparently, though, it's difficult to find flexible endoscopes small enough to use on a cat. The vet said he has a rigid one that he could at least use to look at the inside of Vir's nose if I wanted, but that not being able to see any problems with that wouldn't really tell us anything. I decided not to bother. If a negative result would tell us nothing, and we wouldn't do anything about a positive result anyway, why put the poor critter through it? Unless, of course, he gets worse later and really is having trouble getting enough air. The vet said the only reason he could think of to want to know right now is if it was cancer, but that cancer in that part of the body is very hard to treat, anyway, so knowing might not make a lot of difference. And I rather doubt it's cancer, not if he has had it for that long.

So, yeah, I'm going to go with the "he's just got a weird nose" theory and stop worrying, unless he gives me some new reason to. I had been wondering for some time, actually, whether that might be the case, as I've never seen him show another single symptom of, well, anything. I've never even seen him do that stick-the-neck-out-and-wheeze thing that cats tend to do when they're having acute respiratory problems.

I have to say, I'm greatly relieved, as "Everything's probably pretty much OK and you don't need to do anything right now" is almost always one of my top preferred outcomes for things I've been worrying about.


  1. Please forgive me! Would a catscan show anything. I really am sorry.