Noah, a black domestic short hair cat, came into see Dr. Cynthia Easton. He was lethargic and his breathing was labored. He had vomited earlier in the day after drinking water. This behavior, combined with the heavy breathing and lethargy alerted Noah’s owners he needed to be seen by a veterinarian.
After taking his vitals, and palpating his abdomen, Dr. Easton began a diagnostic work-up to get to the bottom of Noah’s distress. Technicians drew his blood for the lab to process, in order to look for signs of infection or indicators of disease. Because of his labored breathing and painful abdomen, chest x-rays were performed. The x-rays revealed the left side of Noah’s chest was cloudy and his heart was obscured while the other side was clear and normal. This cloudiness indicated that Noah had fluid surrounding his left lung, which is called pleural effusion. He was a very sick kitty indeed.
At this point Dr. James Pogrel performed an ultrasound to get a better picture of what was going on in Noah’s lungs. The ultrasound allowed Dr. Pogrel to carefully guide a needle into the correct position to withdraw some of the fluid. He was able to remove 60 milliliters of purulent fluid. This meant that Noah had a condition called pyothorax—a severe infection causing pus to fill the cavity surrounding the lung. This infection was restricting the lung’s ability to expand fully, making breathing difficult and putting stress on Noah’s heart.
Noah was admitted to our Patient Care ward for hospitalization. He required an aggressive treatment plan of IV antibiotics and fluids to battle the infection. He needed to be constantly monitored to watch for stress, breathing difficulty and possible pneumonia. He also required additional thoracocentesis procedures—removing the pus from the chest cavity with a needle. Noah spent a total of three days in the hospital before returning home to be monitored and cared for by his loving family.
Noah’s infection was probably caused by either a foxtail or a bite wound. If it was from the foxtail, the chances of the infection reoccurring would be high, since the foxtail would still be hidden in his system somewhere. The fluid removed from his chest was sent to the lab for analysis. The culture revealed a type of bacteria often found in a cat’s mouth; meaning the infection was most likely caused by a bite wound, although this is not for certain what happened.
Pyothorax can cause vomiting, lethargy, and eventual shock. Luckily, Noah’s parents acted quickly and he was able to receive the treatment he needed to pull through. With the round the clock care of his technicians and doctors at BRVC and the continued home care of his family, Noah began to improve. It has been a couple months since Noah’s harrowing illness and he has bounced back to his vibrant kitty self!