This is not going to be a typical post for me, but I feel like this is something I need to get out there.
I have two cats, and they live at my parents’ house. One is named Sylvester and the other is named Smokie. They are brother and sister, and they will be ten years old this year. This weekend, we almost lost Sylvester.
This weekend, my dad learned an important thing. If your cat is panting, take them to the vet. It’s a sign that something serious is going on.
My cats are indoor/outdoor cats. They go out in the mornings, come back in throughout the day to eat/drink water, and come in at night for supper and stay inside all night.
Thursday morning, Sylvester and Smokie both meowed to go out and both were feeling great. Sylvester came inside a little before dinner and disappeared into the basement. He came up for dinner on Thursday when dad called, but he was panting really hard. He didn’t eat and just continued to pant. Dad was home alone, and Googled “Cats panting.” Everything he saw said it was a cat emergency, so he loaded up the cat and took Sylvester to the Chelsea Animal Hospital in our city. This was at 4:45 p.m. The vet did blood tests there and Sylvester’s red blood cell count was 15. A normal count for cats is 28+. They told dad to take him to the emergency vet in Cahaba Heights, and that they had called ahead and they would be ready for him.
Dad picked up him Friday morning along with a ton of medication that has to be delivered twelve hours apart. Sylvester did not fight any of the pills or the liquid medicine, and that’s what made Dad really worried.
Saturday morning, Dad thought he would be taking Sylvester to the vet to have him put down. He was lethargic, not eating, and barely moved when Dad petted him. This was a follow-up appointment. Sylvester’s RBC count Saturday morning was 35. The vet told Dad Sylvester was getting better, but the medicine would take some time to work.
I didn’t know anything about this situation until I went to my parents’ house after work on Saturday. Dad took me aside (I thought he would be talking to me about Steven, because that’s a conversation that hasn’t happened yet) and told me about Sylvester’s close call with death.
Saturday night, Sylvester ate dinner, came into the living room, and even took a bath. We have a strict medicine schedule for him. The vets still don’t know what happened, so he’s on an antibiotic for a parasite as well as one for if his body is attacking itself. They ruled out feline leukemia and have sent samples off for lab testing. Those should come back either today or tomorrow.
Sunday, he meowed to go outside. That was the most beautiful sound. Dad said he hadn’t meowed since Thursday morning. We felt good enough to leave him and go pick up Mom (my grandfather also had a near-death experience this week, and he’s 90, so everyone thought it really was the end…but he’s doing great now, and even arm-wrestled my sister and beat her!). When we got back, Sylvester was begging to go outside. We let him go out for just a few minutes, and he came back when he was called. He meowed and acted like himself again all night.
He is an expensive cat right now (nearly $2200 for everything so far!), but we would do anything for him. He’s family. I don’t know what I would have done if he didn’t make it.
Please pay attention to your cats. Take them to the vet if they pant and don’t stop. I’m so glad dad felt compelled to Google his symptoms, because otherwise we would have woken up to a dead kitty on Friday morning.
He’s not completely out of the woods yet, but the worst seems to be over.
UPDATE: Mon called me at 11:45 with the vet results. He has a disease similar to lupus that attacks his immune system. Luckily it’s treatable and can even go into remission. So he is going to be okay. He gets two liquid medicines and one pill medicine. It’s not contagious so Smokie will be okay. At least it’s not a parasite, and at least it’s not untreatable. But this explains why he was having so much trouble on Thursday. We don’t know how he got the disease, but this is our life from now on. Hopefully it will go into remission and we will have a healthy kitty for many more years.