Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sometimes It's Simply Too Late

Today I had a 20 year old cat brought in for a second opinion. The new client had been to a local emergency practice over the weekend because his cat was having difficulty breathing. After an exam was performed, they recommended euthanizing the cat. I do not know what was discussed as I did not have the records. The client didn't want to do that, so came to me today with a cat that was, just in the exam room, obviously TRYING to die. He was clearly having very labored breathing that was more than just the "stress" the client blamed it on. 

I told him that we should get an xray to see what was going on but that even the stress of that could put a cat in this condition over the edge. Sure enough, carrying the cat to the xray area did just that and we had to put him on oxygen and perform CPR. We were able to get a quick radiograph, seen below:

What do you see here? Or maybe I should say, what DON'T you see? Correct answers: 1. air filled lungs 2. cardiac silhouette (or the heart).

Below is what a normal cat chest should look like:

So what was in this cat's chest?

A blood tinged fluid. 

So despite our attempts at resuscitation, this cat did not survive. 

He very likely had neoplasia (cancer) of some type or form. He very likely had this brewing for a while but the owner missed subtle signs. 

This is why we recommend that our senior pets be brought in twice a year for exams and blood test. This cat had been losing weight for a time of unknown origin. We couldn't have cured this but we could've possibly prolonged his life and given him more quality at the end. 


  1. Great news on this owner..he adopted one of our young adult stray cats!! Yeah!!! A sweet old man got a new kitty and a sweet cat got a nice home!

  2. Hey girl friend,
    I actually recognized a air starved collapsed lung cavity in the pix above!!! Glad the new kitty is at home now too