Multiple Answers – One Diagnostic Image of a Cat

Cumulus is a cat who I first examined when he was just a day old.  He was adorable and pure white. Obviously, I had to take him home when he was weaned:)  I like to use my personal animals in my case studies whenever possible because I know every detail of their lives.  For 16 years Cumulus has been a faithful companion, sweet friend and savage hunter.  Imagine my surprise when I scrolled through Facebook only to see a photo of Cumulus at someone’s back door with his large prey.

None of my neighbors will take credit for this photo.  However, it is definitely Cumulus and his outdoor escapades have been known to rid the farm of any rodent he can find. Apparently, he’s willing to help out the neighbors, too.

At 16, I could see this cat slowing down.  He liked to spend more time on the bed, his constant perch, and his coat showed signs he hadn’t been grooming himself.  Cumulus was born with the beautiful, fluffy, cottony, cloud-like coat of the Turkish Van breed.  Let’s just say he lives up to his ethereal name!  It was a little disheartening to see his once proud coat become unkempt.

Recently, Cumulus began to lose weight at a rapid rate.  His in house blood work showed he had an increased white blood cell count, mostly neutrophils and eosinophils.  This was unusual because those increased levels specifically measure inflammation and infection.  His urinalysis showed a low urine pH.

A diagnostic image gives a veterinarian a better look at what’s going on internally and serves as a deciding factor in diagnosis quite often.  Not every x-ray taken will find a problem and many come with surprises.  The big surprise here was the large bone spur (circled in yellow) located at the end of the lumbar spine.  The second surprise was the large size of Cumulus’ kidneys (circled in green).  Also, Cumulus had very large pockets of gas, the largest circled in red, and the others are black.

Diagnostic image of a cat.


Cumulus tested positive for giardia. He is currently being treated for that nasty parasite with and anti-parasitic medication and metronidazole.  Additionally, his appetite needs stimulation with mirtazapine and he is eating a prescription diet with added fat and protein.  An antibiotic is on board to control infection.

His enlarged kidneys and low pH could indicate early kidney disease or dehydration considering his recent anorectic state.  His urine will be re-tested after this current round of medication to see if he will need further kidney care.

His unkempt coat, mostly noted around his lower back, is explained now by the bone spur which is keeping him from grooming himself thoroughly.  I will use acupuncture to relieve pain and inspire some good chi (energy) to flow through this kitty’s back muscles. Cold laser is another option for Cumulus.  I am saving pain medication for a later time when I’m sure his kidneys can handle a powerful drug and will focus on taking my own advice and work through the holistic process first.

I will keep you posted on Cumulus’ condition but it looks like things are turning around for him now.  Good diagnostics make a veterinarian’s job easier.  Thanks to my staff members who have so lovingly cared for Cumulus like he was their own.

Dr. Jim Carlson

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