Cat - Elevated Bilirubin...HELP! - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-14-2006, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Milo, our 5.5 yr old Maine Coon/Persian Mix hasn't been eating for a while. Nothing...at first he ate a little soft food we gave him and now not even that. We got blood results back and it showed elevated bilirubin levels and the vet wants us to take him to the a local place called Vet Referral Center to have an ultrasound. Initially they told me they couldn't take him until August (the poor cat is anorexic - won't eat a thing and is losing weight fast...no other symptoms though) so my vet called to see if they could squeeze him in. I just talked with them and they said my only 2 options are to admit him tonight (to do the u/s tomorrow with an estimated total between $600-$800 - we totally can't afford that...who could?!!) or to take him to a location an hour away on Monday and pay half of that.

Ugh, this sucks.

Any thoughts/opinions? Do we have any options here??
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Old 07-14-2006, 07:15 PM
 
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Well, I think it depends on what's coming next. The ultrasound is to determine whether there's a problem with his liver, with the goal of medication or surgery. The ultrasound itself won't help or hurt anything. So if the u/s is unaffordable, the question is whether you could do the surgery if the u/s shows something, or daily medication if it's an infection or hepatitis. If the answer is no, then you should consider throwing some medication at him without the u/s (prednisone, for example), palliative care (pain relief), or euthanization (which is not a tragedy--better a short, high-quality life than a long, painful one). I wouldn't do the u/s if there's no way you could go beyond that.

By the way, pred is an appetite stimulant as well as a treatment for some liver diseases, and it's not SUPER expensive. You may want to try a few days of it to see if it turns him around.

We had a similar situation with a cat that we LOVED. He was sick and anorexic, but in his case his blood tests were normal. I did a week of prednisone and got him to eat for a few days (though he still acted very, very sick), but as soon as we weaned him off of it he went right back to hideous illness and anorexia. Our next step was u/s or x-ray and surgery--we opted to euthanize instead. It was incredibly painful, but trying to afford that surgery would have hurt our family more than losing our cat.
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Old 07-14-2006, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much, Joanna.
This is exactly what's going on. No, we really can't afford the u/s, and to be blunt, the vet is making me feel SO guilty for opting to take him in on Monday rather than tonight (thereby saving us hundreds of $$$). I just got off the phone with dh who's on his way home from school and he admitted that he's not even sure we can afford the u/s at all...regardless of what it finds. So, it seems as though we are very much in a similar situation to yours. OMG, this is just awful.

I'm waiting to hear back from my vet and will ask her about the options you've outlined. Thanks again.
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Old 07-14-2006, 08:45 PM
 
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I'm guessing from those blood results that the concern is fatty liver disease. Fatty liver is brought on by anorexia. Most often if that's the concern valium will be used over pred (which can be liver toxic) just to get them to eat (a totally gorked out cat will fall asleep with a full belly after an IV dose of valium)
Steps beyond that if it doesn't work are a stomach tube, expensive, but far better sucess rate.

Ask the vet what they are hoping to find on the U/S and how that will change treatment. I would go to the vet and say "ok, we have $XX.xx we can spend right now, what has the best chance of keeping the cat alive?" the U/S is purely diagnostic, and does nothing in the way of treatment---however it can prevent the proverbial grabbing at straws of just treating blindly. In the long run a firm diagnosis *CAN* save you money....but not always.
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Old 07-15-2006, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, here's my current plan of attack. I talked with the vet tech yesterday after the vet on Milo's case had left for the day. Seems as though this vet is not holistic like her associate is (I had gone with the practice thinking both vets were holistic...nope, should've asked only for the one we had seen from the get go) and the vet tech had overheard her talking with me, recommending that I not try herbs with Milo. She said she started to cringe and wanted to yell, "No! That's not what Dr. X would say!"
So, I'm going to stop by the office today and pick up an appetite stimulant. Vet Tech said she's seen complete turn around just with this but usually Dr. X recommends something like Milk Thistle and SAMe in conjunction. So, there's a wonderful store nearby the vet and I'll stop by there and pick up some herbs. Honestly, we cannot afford an u/s or subsequent treatment. Vet tech said when she spun his blood it was not school bus yellow indicating probable beginning stages of liver issues. I'm thinking fatty liver like shannon opined - he has all the symptoms - anorexia brought on by stress (we were on vacation for 2 weeks leaving him with friends) but no other symptoms. On Monday we'll make an appt with Dr. X who will hopefully be able to consult with us on going the natural/non-expensive route.
And, I personally have helped another cat overcome liver problems (normal blood work on her but she had yellow eyes and her fur was even looking jaundiced) using milk thistle.
This is our only hope...I just want Milo to get well and if he can't, at least I know we were gentle with his sweet body. I love the guy and don't want to put him through any pain if necessary.
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Old 07-19-2006, 12:44 PM
 
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Any updates?
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So far, so good...
Milo started eating with great gusto as soon as I gave him an appetite stimulant tablet. He's been going strong ever since. Gaining weight and looking more healthy overall. Yay!
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