Yesterday I got a heartbreaking comment on a post I wrote two years ago about the dangers of giving your cat Metacam®. The cat guardian found my post after he had given Metacam to his 13 year old cat because she had hip dysplasia and he wanted her to be comfortable. He noticed his cat became constipated and called the Vet to ask if the Metacam was the culprit and they said it was unlikely. He backed off giving his cat the medication and she got better, but she was still having pain in her hips so he felt obliged to give her the Metacam again.
The constipation returned to the point of her crying and straining when she attempted to defecate. She began vomiting so her guardian took her to the Vet. They determined she was in renal failure (based on blood work). They offered treatment but gave the cat about nine months to live. The guardian, feeling like he wanted to do what was best for his cat, chose to have her humanely euthanized. After she died, he did some research online and found out he could have treated her and she probably would have lived much longer- and clearly, too, it was possible that the Metcam caused her renal failure!
He wrote me, broken hearted. His cat was gone. Here he was trying to do the best he could for her and felt he had failed her.
What went wrong?
This brings up a few points I'd like to share about how to work with your Vet during your cat's health crisis. Notice I didn't write; “How to listen to your Vet and do what they tell you and not ask questions.”
If you're NOT someone like me, who has a lot of cats and is always at the Vet or learning about cat health, then it's very easy to put the decisions into your Vet's hands and not take an active roll in your cat's health decisions. The second you do this almost guarantees that later on you'll have a lot of regret. If your cat isn't in an emergency situation, like she was injured in an accident or ate something poisonous, then use common sense. Take the time to find out what the Vet is talking about. Even if it means, as I have done in the past, sitting down with a report in one hand and looking up terms online so you can decipher an ultrasound report, then do it. Here are other things to ask:
• If your vet says to change your cat's diet to a “prescription diet” or give them an antibiotic ask him or her WHY are they making this recommendation? What side effects or other issues can this medication cause? Is there something you can do to help offset the side effects (like give probiotics at a timed interval after giving an antibiotic). What's in this food that's so good for my cat? Is it species appropriate or full of grain that will sicken my cat further? • How will your cat benefit from this treatment or is the Vet simply not sure what is going on and wants to try something to see if it works? You'd be surprised at how often that happens. • Is this medication specifically ok to use in cats or is this an “off label” use? • Would my cat benefit from seeing a homeopathic, holistic or eastern medicine Vet? What about acupuncture? If the cat had bad hips, she may have done well with that therapy, alone.
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. My cat, Bob was given Metacam after he'd fallen almost 17 feet off of our deck. Bob had an ALT of 700 (normal is around 100), yet he was prescribed this medication. Had I known about the issues surrounding Metacam I would NEVER have allowed my Vet to give it to him. I don't know if it caused him to have a hepatic cancer or not. I will never know. Bob passed away last September from a variety of complications. Today I have a “NO METACAM” warning on ALL MY CAT'S FILES.
Unknowingly, the cat guardian thought it was safe to use Meatcam on his cat because his Vet prescribed it…but Metacam is NOT DESIGNED FOR USE IN CATS. It's used “off-label” because there are no effective NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for cats that wouldn't also cause them more problems or kill them. I wrote about it in more detail in my original post on Metacam that you can read HERE Even back then I wrote: “If you read the insert it clearly says " Do not give in cats" and it has caused renal failure in a number of cats after just one dose.”
To make matters even MORE confusing, lately Metacam is being touted SAFE for cats who are undergoing orthopedic surgery or even a spay/neuter if injected one-time before surgery is done to prevent swelling. In fact, Bobette's surgeon gave her Metacam, which flipped me out because I didn't know it until he had already given it to her. He said it was safe if used along with an IV which would keep the kidneys flushed out. So I did some reading about it and see he was correct, but it's still comes with MANY WARNINGS: “Pets should be evaluated for pre-existing conditions and currently prescribed medications prior to treatment with METACAM. Anesthetic drugs may affect renal perfusion; approach concomitant use of anesthetics and NSAIDs cautiously. Use of parenteral fluids during surgery is recommended. Concurrent use of nephrotoxic medications should be carefully approached. Multiple injections or concurrent or follow up use with an NSAID (including METACAM) or corticosteroid should be avoided.”
This is from the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. Metacam data sheet. It states: “Death has been reported as an outcome of the adverse events listed above. Acute renal failure and death have been associated with use of meloxicam in cats.”
Guess again. There can be more than one way to treat a health issue. Surprisingly, diet alone can help with a number of factors. If you DON'T get involved with understanding what your cat is being prescribed, then you can find yourself in a very sad situation, as our friend was a few days ago. It's not his fault that he trusted his Vet, but there's a point at which you MUST take an ACTIVE ROLL in your cat's health. Partner with your Vet. Don't let them simply dictate to you. Yes, they have more experience and they went to college, but you can read and you can ask questions. What your Vet is telling you may be spot on, perfect, appropriate and safe-and I hope that's always the case, but for the sake of helping your cat live a long and lovely life, please…ASK QUESTIONS!…breathe!…give yourself some time to consider what is going on and take a step back if you have to. I never want to read another comment or get another email from someone who felt like they were backed into a corner and put their cat down far too soon.
Take a moment do some research, ask questions, ask your friends, see another Vet. There's a tremendous amount of information out there. Even simply going to a pharmaceutical company's web site and looking up the information they provide on their drugs may be all you have to do so save your cat's life.