Sunday, July 20, 2008

Smokey: Severe Eye Ulcer Gone, Cleared for Takeoff!

Smokey on day 1.
Smokey on day 81.

UPDATE: 9/4/08 Just wanted to let any readers know that almost all of the cloudiness in Smokey's eye is gone and he is doing just perfect. Hates the diet, but other than that...

On 01 May 2008, Smokey came to our rescue as a medical foster for an upper respiratory infection (URI). No mention had been made of an eye condition, but once here and out of his crate, it was evident that something was going on. A quick glance at the shelter paperwork seemed to indicate an eye infection as the shelter had had him on three common eye medications over a course of time; Terramycin, Gentamicin and BNP ointment.

As you can see in photo 1, taken the day he arrived, his left eye is cloudy (the cornea) and he is squinting. The conjunctiva surrounding the eye (the pink tissue) does not appear inflamed, but was, though not badly.

As a foster, I see a lot of eye-related problems and infections in foster cats.

Eyes are very tricky and sensitive and I NEVER treat without veterinary oversight. It is common in URI cats to have concomitant eye issues of one sort or another, and since the cat had been on doxycycline liquid for URI, it would make sense that this was the case.

Well, just to show how complicated this can get, and WHY cats with eye problems need veterinary oversight, Smokey's eye problem was not related to his URI and got much worse before it got better.

After Smokey's first thorough eye examination, including an added dye to the eye and a thorough search for any foreign object, Smokey was put on BNP drops. After five days on this, I returned because his eye looked much worse.

After another exam, it was clear that Smokey had an ulcer in his eye (which is further irritated by rubbing it), so Smokey returned with Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride eye drops and an Elizabethan collar (he was now an official "conehead").

Over the course of the next couple of days, he got even worse. The eye was totally closed and the conjuctiva was hugely irritated and swolen. It was difficult to even find the eye (which looked a lot like the eye in the article pointed to below) to get the drops in. So, back to the vet we went again. The ulcer looked horrible.

This time, the vet looked very worried. Smokey was diagnosed with herpes viral conjunctivitis. Medication from a compounding pharmacy was immediately ordered, and and he was also put on 250mg. L-Lysine (an amino acid, arginine) ibid (2x/daily), while remaining on the ciprofloxacin hydrochloride drops until the new compounded medication came in (idoxuridine solution).

During the course of the next 7 weeks, Smokey returned to the vet many times to have a look at the eye. It was looking better within days of the new eye drops being used in conjunction with the ciprofloxacin hydrochloride drops and L-Lysine--thank goodness!

After 81 days, and many vet exams, Smokey got clearance on July 19th to find a home. He will have to remain on the L-Lysine for his lifetime, added to his food daily. He will also need to go with his eye drops, which he is still on 2x/day.

Smokey still has a cloudy cornea and that may never leave, or it may.

Given that this disease never leaves, Smokey will have to go to a quiet single cat home. Stress is one of the biggest causes of herpes outbreaks, and we don't want that again! Feline herpes is not contagious to humans, but is to other cats. So, Smokey must forever be a singleton, and a strictly indoor cat. That will suit him fine. He is a quiet cat that is basically the equivalent of a couch potato.

In the meantime, a secondary issue occurred: Smokey gained 2.5 pounds while here. In discussion with the vet, however, we let that problem go until this one was handled. We did not want to add any further stress to Smokey's world while he was tackling his herpes outbreak. Smokey is now on a 2% weight loss diet (wet food only, Wellness chicken) and will remain on this until his gorgeous little body is fit as a fiddle!

But bottom line: Smokey is cleared for takeoff!

The group which raised the money for his veterinary care and pulling from the shelter will now begin to look for a perfect "furrever" home for "The Smokester".

In animal rescue, it often does take a village to get the cat from the shelter and transported to a rescue or foster home, funds for the cat's continued veterinary care, and finding a proper home for the individual cat or dog suited to that animal's personality and needs.

I am grateful to everyone that helped Smokey, particularly the group that pulled him from the shelter and the funder that covered Smokey's veterinary care. Without you folks, I could not foster this loving cat and see him through to health.

Footnote: The L-Lysine HCl that Smokey is on is: Viralys oral powder for cats, L-Lysine HCl by Vetoquinol, a Canadian Company. There may be substitutes for this that are just fine, but I cannot recommend any. Ask your vet.

All of the cats here are on L-Lysine which, with cats, can be added to their water or food. This is something we started doing about 6 months ago. In Smokey's case, because we could assure more certain uptake when it was put on food, that was my decision.