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The Bubba Syndrome

Bubba is a healthy, well-nourished, glossy, bright-eyed cat. In our eyes, he is the epitome of the perfect cat. After a serious brush with urine crystals 4 years ago, he has almost exclusively eaten the food prescribed by his veterinarian, and has remained in excellent health.

Therefore, it was a shock two weeks ago when he started vomiting and having diarrhea. We took him to the vet immediately, where he was given blood tests, an antibiotic (the pink stuff), and pills to settle his stomach. The blood tests were normal, with the exception of a low white blood cell count, which the vet said could either just be a result of just not feeling well, or indicate a virus infection.

Being naturally inquisitive, I did a net search on a few conditions that I suspected could involve a low white cell count, and came up with the following articles:

I took my research to the veterinarian and he ordered another blood test for FIP,FIV, and FELV. In the meantime, Bubba had stopped throwing up, but his diarrhea continued, and his lethargy increased. He showed little interest in food or water even though we were hand-feeding him. When I questioned the possibility of a tumor, the veterinarian suggested an X-ray, which disclosed no apparent abnormalities except he commented that Bubba's liver seemed "small".

We were growing frantic by this time, as we could see Bubba wasting away, day by day. The vet did a liver test, which came back normal, except that the liver seemed a little small.

Today, Bubba is eating a little more, still does not vomit, but is generally very tired and listless. He has lost 1/2 lb since his visit for his annual shots in November. We can see some improvement and his white cell count is rising again, but complete recovery comes very slowly. He tried to do his usual "jump and thrust" to Asa's shoulders yesterday, and only bounced a few inches off the ground. He purrs again now and then, but we haven't heard that characteristic "sing-song" for over two weeks now.

Our next trip will be to a distant town for a sonogram, although the vet does not see any clear indication for it at this time. We've agreed that we'll watch him for a few more days, and then make that trip, if he hasn't improved substantially. The sonogram will be to detect any tumors that palpitation and Xrays missed.

Fellow cat lovers will understand completely our worry, frustration, and feelings of helplessness as we watch our beloved kitty suffer. We're praying that it's only an allergy-related illness, as the vet has suggested, and that it will soon be a thing of the past. We've told Bubba if this is an attention-getting ploy he's carried it a step too far, but he just purrs and goes back to sleep.


I want to thank the many well-wishers who e-mailed me about Bubba, and to assure you that he's completely recovered. The veterinarians never could give us a definite diagnosis, but since the antibiotics seemed to "do their thing", we're assuming he must have picked up a bacterial infection.

The lesson in this experience is that we all need to pay close attention to the physical condition of our cats. Health problems can get out of hand very quickly and our responsibility as care-givers is of utmost importance. While you are petting your cat, do a little physical examination like your veterinarian would do. Gently palpitate his abdomen to feel for any masses. Check for bumps and lumps on his back. Look inside his ears for dirt or other signs of mites. Check his mouth for signs of reddening of the gums. And always--always, be on the lookout for lethargy, failure to eat, and that all-important third eyelid. If you find anything out of the ordinary, get him to the vet right away. Don't wait for his next annual physical, or you may not have him by then.

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