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Old 10-27-2014, 12:56 PM   #1
mom2rtk
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Our cat has chylothorax

Has anyone heard of this or have experience with it in a cat?

I guess I'm grasping at straws right now as it appears this is a very dire diagnosis.

He is 7 years old and we noticed him breathing hard about a week ago. We never dreamed our previously healthy kitty was near death. The first vet said he was in heart failure and we should let him go. We had a really hard time wrapping our heads around that and took him for another opinion. Turns out it wasn't cardiac, but instead a leak in his lymphatic system filling his chest cavity with fluid. One of his lungs had collapsed.

They drained the fluid from his chest and he clearly now feels so much better and the lung has inflated again. It's awesome to see him looking good again. We have started him on a low-fat diet and a supplement that might help, but everything I have read says that's really a longshot. Odds are the chest will fill with fluid again. Sigh.

We are trying to enjoy the time we have left with him, but this is really hard since he's the cat of our son away at school.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:30 AM   #2
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Yes unfortunately I lost my 11 year old cat to this last month. It is very serious. I took him to the specialist and was informed that for $7,000 they could try surgery (drain and repair the tear) but that there would only be a 25% chance of success so we chose to put him down. They did not know what caused the tear that made his lungs full in the first place.

I'm very sorry you're dealing with this.
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Old 10-28-2014, 05:16 AM   #3
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I am just adding my thoughts and prayers for your cat and your family.
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Old 10-28-2014, 06:57 AM   #4
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More thoughts and prayers.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by sonnyjane View Post
Yes unfortunately I lost my 11 year old cat to this last month. It is very serious. I took him to the specialist and was informed that for $7,000 they could try surgery (drain and repair the tear) but that there would only be a 25% chance of success so we chose to put him down. They did not know what caused the tear that made his lungs full in the first place.

I'm very sorry you're dealing with this.
I'm so sorry. The more reading I do the more discouraged I am. If nothing else, having the fluid drained and bringing him home has given us time to mentally prepare.

How long was it from when you saw a problem to when you lost him?

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I am just adding my thoughts and prayers for your cat and your family.

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More thoughts and prayers.
Thank you both. I'm just heartbroken for my son. This is his buddy and he's away at school. In a previously healthy 7 year old cat, we just didn't see anything like this coming.

Last edited by mom2rtk; 10-28-2014 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:38 AM   #6
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I'm so sorry. The more reading I do the more discouraged I am. If nothing else, having the fluid drained and bringing him home has given us time to mentally prepare. How long was it from when you saw a problem to when you lost him?
It was SOOO sudden. We noticed him breathing oddly on Saturday. We took him in first thing Monday morning and they said they didn't think he would survive a car ride home if we didn't do something right then, so definitely no time to prepare! It was excruciatingly sad and I thought I'd never be able to have another pet, but after 3 weeks I was already feeling ready and I adopted a new little man and love him tons as well, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!

See what your vet suggests. Mine was very honest about the prognosis and helped me make that choice.
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Old 10-28-2014, 11:00 AM   #7
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OK, now that I've had more time to familiarize myself with the condition - I'd be curious to know who you saw and how you got the diagnosis. Did you go to a specialist? You also have two conflicting diagnoses. Many of the sequelae of these conditions can overlap, so it is important to get the right one so they're treating the right thing. If it were my pet, and I was absolutely certain that's what it was, I would seek out a specialist in the disorder and take the cat for an evaluation with that person, even if it meant removing fluid another time or two while we waited for an appointment. Then I would see what they say. You never know, they might be able to offer a newer treatment that others don't know about yet, or haven't tried, etc. (It did appear there are some.) I did a quick glance and saw that there were many university-affiliated centers around the country that have specialists in chylothorax. I think it could go either way, and it depends how much you are willing to do and spend to try to figure it out. If it was an older cat nearing the end of his life, then it might be too much. But in a younger, previously healthy cat, it might be worth a shot, as long as the cat is not suffering. If he is struggling to breathe and doesn't want to eat most of the time, appears uncomfortable, etc, then you'll have a decision to make. But if he's comfortable and back to himself when the fluid comes off, then that might give you some time to see if there's a way to help him. Just my $.02. Good luck. It's so hard.

ETA if it is chylothorax - is there any chance your cat recently had an injury from a fall or something else that you didn't know about? If so, that might help explain how it happened and in two or three months (according to what I read) it could heal itself. Just food for thought. At least that would allow time for letting your son say his goodbyes.
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonnyjane View Post
It was SOOO sudden. We noticed him breathing oddly on Saturday. We took him in first thing Monday morning and they said they didn't think he would survive a car ride home if we didn't do something right then, so definitely no time to prepare! It was excruciatingly sad and I thought I'd never be able to have another pet, but after 3 weeks I was already feeling ready and I adopted a new little man and love him tons as well, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!

See what your vet suggests. Mine was very honest about the prognosis and helped me make that choice.
And I thought our experience was sudden! That is what was so confounding about this. One day he seemed fine, a couple days later he was near death.

I'm so glad you were able to open your heart to a new pet. This cat is my son's buddy, and since he's away at school, he would not even get a chance to bond with a new kitty, so we would likely not add a new one. We have 3 others already.

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OK, now that I've had more time to familiarize myself with the condition - I'd be curious to know who you saw and how you got the diagnosis. Did you go to a specialist? You also have two conflicting diagnoses. Many of the sequelae of these conditions can overlap, so it is important to get the right one so they're treating the right thing. If it were my pet, and I was absolutely certain that's what it was, I would seek out a specialist in the disorder and take the cat for an evaluation with that person, even if it meant removing fluid another time or two while we waited for an appointment. Then I would see what they say. You never know, they might be able to offer a newer treatment that others don't know about yet, or haven't tried, etc. (It did appear there are some.) I did a quick glance and saw that there were many university-affiliated centers around the country that have specialists in chylothorax. I think it could go either way, and it depends how much you are willing to do and spend to try to figure it out. If it was an older cat nearing the end of his life, then it might be too much. But in a younger, previously healthy cat, it might be worth a shot, as long as the cat is not suffering. If he is struggling to breathe and doesn't want to eat most of the time, appears uncomfortable, etc, then you'll have a decision to make. But if he's comfortable and back to himself when the fluid comes off, then that might give you some time to see if there's a way to help him. Just my $.02. Good luck. It's so hard.

ETA if it is chylothorax - is there any chance your cat recently had an injury from a fall or something else that you didn't know about? If so, that might help explain how it happened and in two or three months (according to what I read) it could heal itself. Just food for thought. At least that would allow time for letting your son say his goodbyes.
You are so sweet to read up and try to help us find a way.

We have not been to a specialist. To be honest, I'd have to do some research to even figure out how to find one. And I don't know that we're prepared to invest what would likely be thousands of dollars. The vet who diagnosed it said surgery is possible, but would require some expensive imaging tests to start, followed by the expensive surgery, and most don't make it through the procedure.

We took him to our regular vet who thought he was in heart failure. In the little bit he listened to his heart it varied between 50 and 140 beats per minute. He said a definitive diagnosis would require an ultrasound which would cost $600, and there would still be no treatment. They treated him with fluids (he was dehydrated) and Lasix as we decided to get our son home to see him.

We went back the next 2 days and he wasn't any better. The vet said if it was his cat, he would let him go. It had happened so suddenly we felt we needed to talk to someone else, so we stopped into another vet office. They ran blood work and found lots out of whack. She just didn't think it seemed like a heart problem. They ran some sort of cardiac blood test and said the problem wasn't his heart. They did an x-ray that showed all the fluid in his chest and the collapsed lung. So they sent a sample of the fluid for identification.

They tapped his chest twice while he was there for a total of 285 cc's of fluid. We have started him on a low-fat diet and rutin supplement.

I also read that an injury can cause this, but he's an indoor cat and hasn't had any injuries that I'm aware of.

Everything I read says Rutin supplements can help, but the success rate isn't high. At this point, we're just waiting to see how he does on this, and are keeping a close eye on him so he doesn't suffer.
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:13 PM   #9
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OP, yes like you I also had an exclusively indoor cats, so we were surprised when the vet asked if we knew of any trauma that may have caused it.
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