As it turns out there are very few cat internists in Maryland, but lucky for us one of them, Atlantic Veterinary Internal Medicine & Oncology, shares an office with our local Pet ER—which we frequent more than we would like to admit.
All of Hoppy’s vet record had been faxed over—and were basically illegible—so we walked yet another doctor through the whole story. Feral cat colony for five years, trapped him to have his eye removed, found out he was socialized, upper respiratory infection, FIV +, toxoplasmosis, corona virus, a long list of medications, allergies, chin problems – cancer?…and that was why we were there.
This vet was very unfamiliar with FIV—so he seemed unsure what complications could be factors. He gave us some exploratory surgical options (which seemed ludicrous) or sonograms—and in truth, he wasn’t pushing for either. He seemed a bit put off that we had brought in a ‘feral cat’ to begin with.
I asked what the step would be before surgery. Was there something we could test that may not be definitive, but would show us what was more likely? He suggested us doing a different blood test that would look for specific spikes in gamma globulin levels that would point more to cancer, rather than just an overall sick kitty. His lymph nodes were enlarged, which could be from a myriad of things—including cancer, so he suggested we have a needle aspirate (I don’t even know if I’m using these terms correctly)—but basically they stuck a needle in his lymph node and pulled out a sample to see if there were any cancer cells. This was in no way going to rule out cancer, but it would at least show us which way to lean.
While I stood there, with Hoppy hiding under a towel as he desperately tried to disappear into my shirt, I started looking a little closer at his skin and fur. I had noticed over the past month that his hair was a bit thin in spots. I thought it was an overall wellness thing and would improve with good nutrition. As I looked at it closer now it looked a little too familiar.
Many moons ago, we had found a CH kitten that needed a helping hand. So we set off to find him a home before we realized he had ringworm, and we were going to need to hang on to him for three months while his medication and regular baths with special shampoo took care of the issue. I was not looking forward to the possibility this was ringworm.
I asked the doc if he thought that was a possibility—and if he thought the chin thing could be related to ringworm. He said it was a possible, but he didn’t know much about ringworm and suggested we see a cat dermatologist (yes, they exist) and also ask them about his chin. He would call us with the test results in a few days.
Internist consult – $195, Fine needle aspirate – $65, Cytology – $186, Electrophoresis – $206. Total for the visit = $652.00. Making total vet bills to date = $1670.15
Ella Putsché is the executive director of Photographers for Animals.
Recognizing the impact and influence imagery can have on an audience to
take action, she founded Photographers for Animals to promote animal
issues and to help organizations utilize opportunities for photography and film.