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Entire Household Of Cats Get Sick And One Dies Fairly Quickly :-(


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I have four cats (and a dog). The youngest, Gizmo, is a stray I only took in less than a year ago. He's a sweetheart. But naturally my other three cats that I've had for 7-8 years, I've grown more attached to. The other three are named Mariah, Mimi, and Lucky. Mariah initially we were told was a female (thus the female name which we never changed cuz he became accustomed to it quickly), and because of that he mated twice with another female we had (and later gave to a relative); and those two different "one-kitten-surviving-each" litters produced Lucky (fall '05) and Mimi (spring '06). Mimi and Mariah had both nearly lost their lives in the past, both requiring surgeries in 2010 but surviving and recovering fine. Lucky had never been sick.

So, all four of them got sick about the same time, three Fridays ago. Gizmo sneezed for 3 days and then was fine. That's the real kicker. The other three that we have lived our lives with for several years all had a rough experience that likely morphed from bacterial sinus infection into viral lung infection and/or pneumonia according to the vet when all was said and done. The other kicker is that our luck has been poor with my spouse getting severely hurt at work 5 yrs ago, and accordingly we've struggling with our finances more and more every year; but our lawsuits were literally settling in another couple months, leaving us with no problems paying a huge vet bill when that time would arrive. After 5 yrs of struggling, we were at the worst place we could be financially; we'd been able to afford spending $1200 each on Mimi and and Mariah's surgeries in 2010 ($2400 total), after all. Could we afford a 2 or 3 thousand+ dollar bill for all the cats? Or more? I'm not sure it was necessarily of primary concern given how much we love our pets and our hope that the vet "would work with us", but it was of some consideration.

Mimi initially was the most sick. Wasting little time we took her in Saturday, day 2 (the day Lucky got sick). She was breathing out of her mouth repeatedly, sneezing a lot, a bit lethargic... but nothing compared to her last problem (symptoms-wise, I mean) that required surgery. Vet said her lungs are clear, and to hope that it's bacterial and not viral. Gave us antibiotics. We administered them to all four cats as indicated. And if each cat ever stopped drinking and eating, we would give watered down food and water with a syringe (as we'd done w/ Mariah post-surgery). Mimi got a bit better but stayed pretty sickly as far as sneezing and not eating/drinking consistently. Mariah, the entire time, managed to "stave it off" and never get brutally sick... and most days would try to eat and drink sufficiently.

Lucky started going downhill somewhat fast on Sunday. He never appeared that much worse than Mimi had been when we'd taken her in Friday... but he vomited a couple of times and the vet said that wasn't good and to keep hydrating and use keopectate to stop the vomiting--if it continued, get him in to us he said. We used the kaopectate, and it worked as he only vomited one more time Monday. But by Tuesday he was more lethargic. At one point I found him in the litterbox, sleeping! I freaked out momentarily, wondering if he was doing the "crawling off to die" thing animals sometimes do. But the remainder of the time he wanted to be near us! And he'd move around occasionally--he'd even follow us down to the basement office as that was his favorite place to love on us, so he would lie there I guess to be near us. He just appeared congested in his nose, would breathe through his mouth and sometimes sigh/moan lightly as if in discomfort--similar to Mimi early on, but more frequently. We considered taking him to the vet that day, but kept on the antibiotics and giving food and especially water by mouth as much as we thought was needed. By the next morning, my spouse called me to say Lucky was starting to look really really lethargic and uncomfortable (5 AM; I was on a night shift). I left work an hour later and rushed home fast as I could. I walked in the front door to hear my spouse either in a better mood and playing somewhat loudly with the cats, or something else. I soon could tell it was something else. He was sobbing loudly. My heart was in my throat and I knew I was too late to say goodbye. Lucky had had a seizure and died in his arms less than 5 minutes before I got there. I embraced Lucky together w/ him and we were a complete and utter mess together for a good 30 minutes. The rest of the morning/early aftn I spent alternatingly caring for Mimi and staring into space wondering what Lucky had done to deserve such crap parents.

Though Mimi had actually been purring and receptive to feeding even the night before, we ultimately took her to the vet that afternoon as she was deteriorating once again. The vet could not find a pulse (at that point I was almost hysterical) and she was very dehydrated. They gave shots under the skin and could IV her by the time the next morning came. Mariah went in two days later (Friday)... he wasn't nearly as bad as Mimi but just could not shake his head cold and we were NOT going to let him get to Mimi's level, this was getting ridiculous. Eight days *after* that point--marking a total of 12 days for them being sick--and they finally had kicked it for the most part and got to come back home. Mariah is back to normal physiologically, Mimi is STILL getting over the sniffles, but both are back to themselves again personality-wise though Mimi sleeps a lot understandably. Still giving them antibiotics for another couple weeks.

Have never heard of such a thing affecting all the cats in the household. I've been second-guessing not taking Lucky to the vet the day before he passed... but at best that would have been 18 hours before he had passed, would that even have been enough? Was something else wrong that got triggered by him being so sick--causing the seizure? I don't know. The guilt comes in waves. I wish I'd never worried about the money problems--I don't think that was stopping me from taking Lucky in, but it was in the back of my mind. I just thought, well, all the cats are sharing a bug of some sort, they haven't been poisoned, they don't appear to have something major that is physiologically wrong with them, just have to give them the antibiotics, try to hydrate them and feed them and wait for improvement Essentially 72 hours of being considerably sick w/ seemingly a cold/stomach bug, and he has a seizure and dies. It wasn't something I was expecting was really a possibility. I considered an autopsy but thought it was just better to move on. I'm afraid of the worst, that he developed pneumonia and was severely dehydrated and died--that I was a negligent parent. That what Lucky couldn't do for himself, I should have done.

We buried him and put a stone at his grave, "Lucky, Playing in Heaven." Lucky was the brightest light in our house. With age he'd grown to probably be our most independent of the cats. But he loved to love on you if you were down in the office downstairs, love to play and chew with your fingers, jump in the bathtub and "box" at you from the inside of the bathtub curtain. His litter had 3 and he was the only one to survive, thus the name. My spouse helped to deliver him. He was such a sweetheart, would come running at you meowing if you got after him for something--as if he didn't understand he was in trouble. Like all pets he loved unconditionally. He died having lived a good life, but cut far, far too short.

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Thank you for being so open and sharing your story with us, I'm sure as painful as it is, it was quite hard. I too am a dog and cat lover, I have one dog and two cats, and since my husband died 7 1/2 years ago and the kids are married, my animals ARE my family.

I would think if it was something they all got that it would be viral, but I don't know...otherwise wouldn't it be highly coincidental that they all got sick at once? It sounds like something contagious that got passed around. It could be that Lucky's constitution just wasn't strong enough to fight it, who knows. Why do some cats die at 7 and others live to be 20? Who knows. Yes his life was cut short in numbers, but it sounds like he must have had quality of life in your household, with parents and siblings that loved him. I know you will miss him, all of the things that made him him.

Please try to be more understanding of yourself...money may not be the only concern, but it is certainly a very valid one. When I was laid off work (I'm still just back to part time) my cat got sick and I remember that struggle, taking her to the vet, it can be very expensive and they don't go by what you can afford! We make our choices based on the information we have at the time, and there's no way you could could have anticipated Lucky dying. I am so sorry you are feeling all of this on your shoulders, when you're going through enough, just missing him.

I hope the pain starts to lessen...you have the marker at his grave, and you can wish good thoughts for him whenever you see it.

Bless you, and your husband, for providing such a loving home to so many.

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Thank you for your kind reply, it is very much appreciated. Thank god, from the time we brought Lucky's father and sister home from the vet (~8 days ago) until now... they haven't seemed to react as though they are noticing Lucky's absence... either that or they have hidden it well. Lucky's father was five feet away lying on the floor when Lucky passed, so it's quite possible he knew what had happened. Meanwhile Gizmo the young un-related one walked around meowing loudly the day Lucky passed--that was hard enough to take, Lucky was the only one of the other cats who would be nice to Gizmo. Anyway, am just trying to give it some more time and to stop second-guessing my decisions. I miss Lucky terribly, but I know the pain will let up eventually (like you, I've dealt with immediate family deaths as well... I just know for the sake of "surviving" and peace of mind, you just have to breathe and to try to give it time); and I pray that all of our pets are waiting for us in the end along with the rest of our loved ones. And that those pets who were mistreated or abused, had a rough life, or were never loved have a wonderful place waiting for them too.

Take care.


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I hope I'm one of their caretakers when we get to where we're going. I love animals.

I had a dog named Lucky and a cat Miss Mocha...Miss Mocha adored Lucky. She'd follow her around the yard and do whatever she did, it was so funny, like Pied Piper or something. When Lucky died, we buried her in our back yard. I was really worried about how Miss Mocha would take it because she truly adored her, but she seemed to handle it okay. I did catch her down in the yard sniffing and peeing on her grave...I kind of wondered if she was "marking" her as hers. My Lucky grieved terribly when my husband died, acting out, chewing up things, and normally she was very well behaved, so if you see any signs of that going on, understand it is their way of getting their feelings out.

I hope the days continue to get a little better for you, I know how hard it is...I've lost too many.

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