My 5 month old kitten aspirated some wet food on Sunday and I took him to the emergency vet. She did xrays, which showed cloudiness in both lungs. She told me to take him to my regular vet in the morning, which I did. He was at the vet's all day. When I went to get him in the afternoon, they told me that they had given him an antibiotic injection to prevent secondary infections. I took him home with a bottle of amoxicillin (sp?) to give him morning and night. He had a dose last night and once this morning. The emergency vet told me that the only cure for this is time and antibiotics. He's got the antibiotics, but I'm wondering about the time. How long does it take to heal from this? He is lethargic and still wheezes. His gums and tongue are pink and he is eating a little.
I guess I'm posting because I want to know if there is anything I can do to speed up the healing. Will a humidifier help? I'd also like to know when I should start to see some improvement. The two vets I've seen are vague about this. I know it probably varies, but just a ballpark idea would be nice. I hate to see him like this.
There isn't all that much that you can do additionally to help. Your kittens body must clear out the aspirate from within, through his immune system, which means that the lungs macrophages, and other white blood cells must physically remove microscopic amounts of the foreign substance that has accidentally made it into the lungs. It will take several weeks to months before the lungs have cleared depending on how much food was aspirated..
A humidifier wouldn't hurt, steroids are sometimes warranted, and cough medicine with an expectorant would help. Please ask your vet for a prescription for an expectorant, or if your vet believes that an over the counter pediatric expectorant and/or cough medicine will help. The rest of the help is supportive therapy.
Thank you so much, Dr. Cheng! He is supposed to go back for a follow-up on Thursday. I can ask the vet for an expectorant. He ate a lot tonight, although he seemed to be trying really hard for the food to go down a certain way. I guess it's hard to wheeze and eat at the same time.
I am going to try the humidifier tonight.
No one had explained to me before how the body gets rid of the stuff. I can see now why it might take some time. As long as he hangs in there and keeps eating, I think he can beat this.
Thanks for the good wishes!
I will. Thank you very much for your help in this. When I took him in this morning he was already dead. I was trying to rush him to the vet because he didn't look good and he died in the car. The vet's assistant said that he might have aspirated more than they thought. The vet wasn't there yet, so I asked the assistant to arrange the necropsy. I just wonder how he could have breathed in his food like that. He wasn't a tiny baby and he had eaten canned food before. It's very strange.
I'm wondering if the aspiration wasn't just coincidental, and the kitten really had some underlying problem that just happened to have worsened in that time frame, like a cardiac problem or something else.
Thanks Peekawho. I have also wondered about some congenital defect. It's just too weird for a normal kitten to do something like that. Maybe he aspirated because of some underlying problem that I wasn't aware of. Hopefully, I know the whole story when the results come back. I just made a $25 donation to a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in his name. It made me feel better.
Is that a photo of your kitten that you have posted?
Aspiration pneumonia can occur from megaesophagus, which is a congenital neurological disease, in which the esophageal nerve has never fully developed. The esophagus doesn't have enough muscle tone to push the food into the stomach adequately, and a certain amount of food becomes regurgitated or aspirated. Your kitten may have had this problem.
Making the donation was a nice thing that you did, and I am glad it made you feel better!
Yes, that is a picture of Cuddles. It's an old one, though. He was about 6-8 weeks old in that pic. Unfortunately, I hadn't been taking pictures recently, so I don't have one of him as he looked just before he died. He was bigger than that when he died, but still kind of small and scrawny for his age. He might have had megaesophagus. Do you think that would be easy to spot during a necropsy? Anyway, I should know Monday. That's when my vet said that he would have the results of the necropsy. I never noticed that he had trouble eating until Sunday. I am anxious to find out, just because I feel like I need answers. Then I can let it rest.
My vet said that Cuddles had a really narrow esophagus. Other than that, he really didn't have anything wrong with him. He probably always had some trouble swallowing. I just never noticed it before. He must have breathed in while he was eating because it was difficult for him to get the food down fast enough. If I had known he had a narrow esophagus, I never would have given him wet food with a lot of gravy. Most cats can handle that kind of food! The vet said he had a lot of aspirate in his lungs. He must have really taken a big snort. I feel bad that it happened. It was such a freaky way to die. He was the runt and he always gained weight slower than his brother and sisters. I miss him, poor little guy.
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