Deep thought 2008-03-16 18:05:46
We had owned/cherished our cat since it was a couple of weeks old and she
would have been 14yrs old in late August…. 18mths ago she was found to
have higher than “normal” calcium levels in blood. We had
prompted the test as we had noticed she was more frequently drinking…. our
long-standing veterinary practice believed that she was likely to have a
tumour somewhere and we agreed to bring her in for blood tests at a more
regular interval (2/3 months). Kidney readings were within acceptable levels
we were told. The calcium levels was a little higher on next test (normal is
I gather 2.83 m/mols – she was around 3.01 m/mols) – so at the vets
suggestion she was put on a fluid drip for the day to bring the level down.
Her most recent blood test was 10 days ago (this was routine check – her
behaviour was normal although the first had increased compared to couple of
months prior) – vet detected calcium levels of 3.70! (Apparently this is
getting very high). Also a small lump was felt in her abdomen area – this
may have been coincidence but vet considered that it was likely to be
tumour. We were advised that if this was abdomen tumour she would be
inoperable and were to prepare ourselves for the worse. The vet immediately
prescribed daily 5mg Prednisone and advised this would address the calcium
issue and also slow down the tumour growth – in other words make her feel
better. The next 4 days our cat took a
serious dive in her well-being – more than coincidence this was the period
the prednisone had been applied. She was sick a couple of times, was visibly
losing weight, lost appetite, lethargic, looked “out of it”… on the 4th
day we got her back to vet who could no longer feel the lump and her calcium
levels appeared normal again! – this seemed ununsually fast response to the
prednisone and the vet seemed to agree but said it was possible. However our
cat was now gravely ill which did not make sense to me. They x-rayed her but
no tumour could be seen (I understand that x-rays are not very reliable) –
she was given valium to sedate her for the x-ray but where they expected her
to become very hungry in response to valium she was not eating anything.
They kept her on drip overnight to try and get her fluids up. The next day
there was no change and she was ultimately put to sleep our arms at the
urging of the vet.
This has emotionally destroyed myself and my partner and has left me with a
feeling of having poisoned my own cat. The last blood tests indicated
“problems” with liver, kidneys and bone marrow – she was also anaemic…
essentially it appears her whole system had caved-in. Vet had suspected
lymphoma in early diagnosis and I suppose this remains a possibility. But
the whole situation turned upside down during the prednisone period and the
vet insists coincidence but I cannot accept that.
Karen 2008-03-17 00:31:31
in article hqudnZnfL6X4_QnfRVnyjw@pipex.net, Deep Thought at
There are other kinds of cancer than tumor. My boy Grant acted absolutely
fine but one day suddenly started throwing up badly. He went downhill from
there. We thought it was a large clump of hair we could see in his stomach.
Finally I let them go in through surgery. They found he had advanced stomach
lymphoma, where the stomach lining had thickened and there was very little
normal tissue left. He was 8. So, I would not discount the vet at all. I
really don’t think you poisoned your cat. They are so good at hiding stuff.
I hate it, but modern medicine is just not always very precise. It’s just
better than it used to be. I’m so sorry about your cat.
Innovo 2008-03-17 06:48:09
*** First of all, I’m so very sorry about the loss of your ‘baby’. I
understand what your going through because I lost my 19 1/2 year old boy
‘Blue’ almost 6 months ago and the loss is still so fresh in my heart. I
could have kicked myself for giving him all the invasive heart meds that the
vet prescribed for him during the last week of his life, because I’d swear
on a bible that it just made him sicker and he was already gravely ill. I
really think it just escalated his death, it certainly didn’t give him ‘a
last days’ quality of life. But hidesights better than foresight, they say.
In your case, you also did what you thought was the right and best medicine
to help him. It’s very possible that he was already very sick and the
steroid just escalated his sickness.
You could always have him/her autopsied to find out, for sure, what was
wrong, if it’s not too late.
I, personally, would now avoid prednisone and most ‘heavy’ meds/ steroids,
unless it was just for like two or three days at small doses only. Very
common side effects for prednisone used long term are diabetes and related
blindness, and stroke to name a few. Not to mention organ damage(!). How I
wish there were much more widely prescribed safer + better, more holistic
alternates for our ‘babies’ out there. There are* vets around that are more
holistic minded, but you have to hunt for them.
Anyway, please know that your not alone. Many of us have gone through this
with a pet, and we can/will offer you support and understanding.
Spot 2008-03-17 06:48:12
I really don’t think that the prednisone was the cause for the cat going
down hill. Cancer is more than likely what caused her to deteriorate that
quickly often times they have cancer and you don’t know till they are
seriously ill. I had a dog pass recently who for the last two years was
exhibiting behavior that I attributed to old age it turned out she had a
brain tumor or leasion. She went from a happy playful dog to completely
paralized in less than 4 days. .
The dose prescribed for your cat was not a huge dose that it could have been
toxic. Prednisone is used for many things and cancer treatment is just one
of them. I had a cat who had severe asthma and took dose of prednisone
rangeing from 10mg to as much as 30mg daily when she was having a severe
I wouldn’t feel guilty about the dose that you gave her. You did nothing
wrong sometimes there is just nothing we can do and no matter what we try
it’s their time to go.
Blkcatgal 2008-03-17 06:48:21
I really don’t think it was the pred that killed your cat. The dosage that
your vet recommended is pretty standard. Also, pred won’t cure cancer…it
will only treat it by slowing the growth of a tumor…and there’s no
guarantees that the pred will even help at all. I am really sorry for your
loss. I think you did everything you could for your cat. I hope the years
of joy that she brought you helps you through this difficult time.
Lesley 2008-03-17 10:02:36
”often times they have cancer and you don’t know till they are
This is so true, Fugazi was winning a game of “king of the castle” one
tuesday morning, became unwell later that day and was put to sleep the
following day because of cancer. I was upset because I thought I ought
to have spotted it earlier but our vet assures me that sometimes cats
show no symptoms until the point is reached where the disease
overwhelms their systems
Slave of the Fabulous Furballs
Deep thought 2008-03-17 13:00:22
Thank you all for your replies… I too was certain through my own
researching that prednisone was not recorded anywhere as showing this effect
on an animal. The biggest part of the shock for myself and my partner was
the suddenness of it all… we KNEW our cat (or at least we thought we did)
and we knew when she was in any discomfort – for example a stomach/gut
infection a year or so ago and we could see straight away she was
“unhappy” – her tail was not “up” much and her pupils were wide open a lot
and she lost interest in scratch-poling and all the usual – that was just a
tummy bug (which was cured quickly I hasten to add). THIS situation was very
different – literally up until the first day of the 4 days we applied the
prednisone (25mg tablet crushed into her food) she was her “normal” self –
with the exception being the thirst she had had for quite a few months (e.g.
would get into the empty bathtub many times during the course of a day in
order that we turn the tap on for her to drink). Despite all this she was
purring and “normal”. She never actually drank her water bowl dry – we
always kept it full – we just assumed she “preferred” running water and in
fact there is a lot of evidence to show that cats do actually prefer running
water to drink – so it was not as if she was permanently camped beside her
water bowl as you hear with some calcium-ridden cats.
No – it was EXACTLY the same time the prednisone kicked in that she
“crashed” – there is no other way to describe it. She was unable to keep her
food down, was sick 2/3 times over that weekend, became very lethargic,
would crouch on floor and stare straight ahead – not fixing her eyes on to
anything in particular, several pounds of weight FELL off her during same
period – I woke up in the middle of the last night utterly convinced it was
the tablets… my worst nightmare was that maybe the vet had put the wrong
pills in the bottle – this in fact remains a small possibility in my mind.
The vet assures me they did not and stated everything is double-checked.
Within 24hrs she was dead and I am still having sleepless nights racked with
the guilt of possibly having not insisted on a smaller dose or getting the
vet the re-check the tablets before administering them – it was ME that put
them in her food and it was ME that could be to blame for all this.
The very last blood test that came back (taken from her when she was taken
in overnight) – according to the vet, when they got them back from the lab a
day after she had died, indicated problems with liver, kidneys and bone
marrow. She was extremely anaemic when she was put down – again she was NOT
anaemic at all prior to that weekend. My fear is that she must have been
haemorrhaging internally or something because what else would cause her to
be so anaemic in so short a time?
My partner and I are still completely zombie-fied by this grief we are going
through – I never imagined the grief we would be going through. We do not
have children and I guess this can only be compared to the loss of a child.
The pain seems like it is never going to end:-(
Deep thought 2008-03-17 13:00:24
….forgot to add – we did not have a post mortem on her. The bottom line is
that the vet is satisfied in his mind she had cancer – possibly lymphoma –
however at no stage was this proven – e.g. no surgery, biopsy ect – and
other than a small lump being felt a week before she died (which by the vets
own admission could have been food passing through her gut and seemed to
vanish over the weekend) and the calcium levels in her blood we have had to
go along with the working theory of this vet. Her kidney secretions seemed
within acceptable range given her age – there were some signs of “early”
kidney disease but not unexpected in a 14yr old cat.
Mk 2008-03-17 13:00:41
I don’t know if you had come across this information yet, but thought you’d
The prednisone dosage doesn’t seem high, actually probably toward the low
end of the dose range. There’s no denying the coincidence factor, but it
would be astronomically strange for prednisone to do this, at least in my
Karen 2008-03-17 13:01:00
I just have to reiterate that cancer really can be just as you have
described with your cat. Honestly, it can seem like an overnight even within
a few hours crash. That is how it was with Grant. I’m so sorry though. It
Philip 2008-03-17 15:46:19
Back in September of 1998, I was started on Prednisone at 80 mgs per day. I
was 180 lbs at the time. I was experiencing the first of numerous severe
autoimmune flare ups. At the fourth month, the dosing was tapered down
because such a high oral dose carried numerous side effects short term and a
couple of long term bad effects if I stayed at that doseage much longer.
Where am I going with this? In the subsequent 3 years, I found anything
beyond 40 mgs produced no better results and just made me retain more water.
That’s 40 mgs on a 180 pound man. Cats must metabolize Prednisone
differently than people if 25 mgs was normal dosing for a medium sized
(10-12 lb) cat. snip
Personal experience with Prednisone: It suppresses your immune system
activity, increases water retention, increases water in your cardiovasular
compartment which in turn raises your blood pressure and standing heart beat
rate, interferes with iron binding capacity of red blood cells in many
people, makes getting to sleep and staying asleep quite difficult (I
suffered sleep deprivation for the months I was at 80 mgs daily), the sleep
deprivation makes you short tempered as h***, and longer term, there is
considerable calcium loss from your bones which makes bone density scans
necessary. Prednisone metabolization requires calcium. There there’s the
eating/digestion/elimination process. Mine became that of a ravenous
teenager. Your cat was already “in trouble” if Prednisone was ordered.
Barb 2008-03-17 15:46:32
I agree with a lot of the posters. From the time you realize a cat has
cancer, they seem to crash very, very fast. That’s how it was with my
Sapphire. I kept her going longer than I should have because I kept hoping
chemo would work for her. The oncologist had said he’d started with much
sicker cats but I thought she was really so sick. From being fine to dying
was less than 2 weeks.
On the other hand I had a cat for whom prednisone apparently snapped her out
of urinary problems that had gone on and off for 2 years. I started with a
new vet and told him not to do the same routine treatments all the other
vets had done because they weren’t working. She was given prednisone and
then over a month or two the dose was decreased because the vet said she
couldn’t take it forever. When she finished with it she went on to live
another good 10 years. So, don’t be too hard on yourself,
Of course I don’t look busy,
I did it right the first time.