April 29, 2012

From Allie Michelle:

Re: "Robotic cat" illness mystifies vets (April 12): This article immediately caught my eye because several months ago, two of the cats in my care began exhibiting these symptoms.

I live in the southern United States, a rural area.

I care for abandoned and feral cats. I generally take them for rabies vaccines once every three years.

Recently (within the last four months) I took five sheltered cats for their core vaccinations. The first day, everyone was stressed from the trip but fine, good appetite and normal activity.

A week later, two cats exhibited stiff gait and an extended tail, as if they could not lift or move their tail. Both cats were remarkably healthy and disease free before the vaccinations. One, a calico, is four, the other, a tortie, three. One cat was significantly more ill than the other and the illness progressed over a five day period to the point she was barely able to walk (interestingly, after ingesting the pedalyte, she recovered the fastest)

I read on the internet of many cats were reacting this way after core vaccinations/rabies vaccinations. One article cited a potassium/electrolyte drop related to the compound vaccine triggering the immune systems of the cats, but generally, most vets were stymied as to the issue, citing the cat having an underlying illness which was triggered by the vaccinations -- ONE vet said she'd stopped giving compound vaccinations due to the potential for reactions.

I immediately sequestered the cats and put nonflavored liquid pediatric electrolyte replacement in their water and mixed this with Hills AD diet wet cat food to ensure that they got adequate replacement amounts of electrolytes. I did not have much hope but didn't want to bombard their system with any other drugs that might worsen the issue. After reading the comment boards on vaccination sites, I read stories of multiple drug applications that hoped to help the cats once the symptoms began, but it seemed many ended in the cat having to be euthanized due to progressive loss of hind quadrant control and organ failure (which can occur with atropine and other agents used when cats exhibit symptoms of overdose or other drug reaction).

Within one day of watching one cat consume the electrolytes, she was significantly better, the second took slightly longer, but I kept the supplement in their water until full recovery was observed.

The first cat (the one hit the hardest) was free roaming and often catches moles, voles and other small rodents and birds as well as frogs and lizzards, while the second, which was ill for a longer duration, was in a kennel-like containment where no rodents were available and on a commercial diet only. The only common thing these cats had recently shared were the vaccinations. Onset of the illness was roughly five days apart.

It may also well be that they would have recovered w/out the electrolyte supplement, but up to the point of the supplement, they seemed to worsen a bit more each day.

The lesson I took away is that I will never have compounded shots administered to the animals again. Rabies will be separate and the shots administered weeks apart... which is something progressive vets are beginning to recognize as beneficial to the animal. This is the first time this has happened and I also care for a feral colony and have vaccinated (compound) over 40 ferals with no similarly observable responses, though frankly, some do stay away from feeding stands for a while after being caught.

On many rabies vaccine boards where these "stiff gait" and loss of hind quarter control symptoms are archived as occurring after vaccination, there is discussion regarding the type of rabies vaccines used. (I want to stress I am not anti-vaccination, simply anti compounded into one shot 'fast food' type of vaccination).

The "immune" system shock and hyper response to a varied stimulus may well be *the* issue, and there may be an underlying genetic weakness in the cats affected (remember, one was calico and one tortie, so their genetic stew is a bit different), but when reading your article, I also wonder if any of the cats in question were recently vaccinated?

In the areas where this is being observed, was there a recent push to vaccinate due to fear of rabies threat? If so, what specific type of vaccine was used? (recombinant, nonadjuvanted canary pox vectored, and killed adjuvanted) Same manufacturer and/or composition?

The Internet holds a cache of many posts where after vaccinations, cats have lost optimal use of their hind quarters. The question is to figure out why this is occurring. Is a vaccine formulation or contaminant responsible? Is over vaccination, or compound vaccinating (calicivirus) responsible for the immune system overdrive, esp. in older cats?

Lots of questions.


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