Kitty newly diagnosed, need some recommendations
- Hello everyone! I wish we were meeting under better circumstances.
My 5 year old bengal was just diagnosed with mild hcm. We are in san francisco. Unfortunately our regular vet sold their practice last year so we are in between regular vets. The emergency hospital we went to initially just started up an internal speciality practice. It's been a bit of a whirlwind and we are just now trying to get our footing for how to best handle this. The internist we're seeing now seems ok. We didn't see the cardiologist directly though. I guess when they did the scans and stuff they were sent over to him for review.
The internists are all new to the area, and of course all the yelp reviews are full of horror stories. I know that you have to take reviews with a grain of salt but it's difficult to ignore a lot of them.
Now that I'm transitioning my thinking for a late night emergency to an ongoing care, I want to make sure we get setup with great vets!
1) Anyone have a vet they love in San Francisco or general area?
2) We are thinking of getting a second opinion from a cardiologist, mostly so we can speak directly with the specialist and also just to make sure we're on the right track. There are two that have come up in my research - Dr. Lori Siemens in Sacramento area. She's well known amongst breeders and has done many, many scans. Dr. Kristin MacDonald in Sonoma/Rohnert Park. She is well credentialed and has done a lot of research work regarding feline heart conditions.
I've never really dealt with a serious health concern feline or human and this is pretty overwhelming not only emotionally but also financially.
thanks in advance for any words of wisdom. I did do some searching through old posts but couldn't find any san francisco vet recommendations.
I am sorry your Bengal is poorly. Is kitty a boy and girl and what is their
name? Mild HCM can be treated with atenolol, a beta blocker, but it really
needs a cardiologist to read the scans. Would it be possible to contact
the cardiologist and have the scans sent over and your kitty taken into their
Don't read the horror stories, there are many positive ones too. My Maxi,
diagnosed mild HCM aged 12 weeks has not progressed at all in 6 years on
atenolol. Trixi, serious HCM as a kitten, has survived 6 years despite a few
months to live prognosis. Its far easier to treat a kitty in mild HCM than
Time to learn breath counts. Wait until kitty is asleep, not dreamy. Count
over 15 secs and times by 4. Find what is normal and recognise the pattern.
Then you can notice quickly if his rate starts to increase or breathing
changes. Over 30 is concern, over 40 emergency. But most important is a
change from what is normal.
I give Coenzyme Q 30mg to all my heart cats and all are doing very well.
Vetriscience cardiostrength is a good option in the States. But once you
start CoQ you can't stop suddenly. Mine have taken it 6 years.
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- Hi there,
We're also in San Francisco and relatively new to all this heart stuff. Our Lumi (7 years) threw a clot in November and was found to be in an advanced stage of heart disease. It's all been, as you point out, emotionally and financially draining.
I've had mixed feelings about our service at SFVS on Alabama Street. Lumi is blind and had a wonderful eye doctor there as a kitten. When we needed a cardiologist, we went back and have been very happy with Dr Justin Williams. He's knowledgeable, caring, and willing to talk at length with me about all my questions. Lumi has not tolerated the vet visits well and Dr Williams has been great about changing his approach so we do more at home. We've also been impressed with how SFVS communicates with our primary vet (Animal Farm).
We did have an emergency with Lumi, related to his heart condition, and I cannot say I have the same warm feelings about that department. Financially, it was a nightmare; their procedures around payment were not appreciated. I had specific complaints and they were dealt with kindly, but the experience did taint my opinion of the larger hospital.
We threatened to take our business elsewhere, but decided to stay for Dr Williams. (If there's another emergency, we'll go to All Animals.) I would recommend him and his staff without hesitation.
Hope that helps!
Lisa and Lumi
- Dr. Kristin MacDonald (at the Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park, California) gets a big "thumbs up" from me. She has a PHD on top of a specialty in cardiology and is well published in her research on HCM in Maine Coons. The Animal Care Center has top of the line equipment for x-rays and echos plus a well rounded staff of other veterinarians in various other specialties. Kristin's husband, Dr. Lavely, is also a veterinarian with a specialty in Neurology and sees our other cat, Hamlet, once a year for an examination related to his epilepsy.
Dr. MacDonald has a couple of small children and currently works Mondays through Wednesdays so you will need to call ahead for an appointment. We have been working with her for well over a year and go in routinely for echos, x-rays, blood tests, etc. My Maine Coon cat, Moe, would not be alive today if we had not made the move from our regular veterinarian to working with Kristin to try to stay on top of this progressive disease. Under her guidance, we were able to get Moe on a drug protocol that works well for him. Although his HCM is pretty severe, he is happy, perky, and has a high quality of life which makes all the minor ups and downs along the way worthwhile. Definitely find a good cardiologist and work with them. Most normal veterinarians just aren't up on the latest research and drug protocols necessary to keep on top of HCM. The cardiologists see many cats with varying degrees of severity and side complications come through their doors. Every cat is different but they know what works best based on their past cases. Dr. Kristin is highly flexible and will give you the straight scoop on your cat's prognosis plus fight like hell to slow the progression of the disease.
All the Best. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Mary and Moe
- @elfinmyst great to hear about Trixie! Our guy is named Henry and he's a boy (obviously).
thank you everyone. I can't tell you how much I appreciate both your posts to the group and emails to me personally. Lots of great insights and good recommendations.
I've got an appointment with Dr. MacDonald up in Sonoma for Tuesday - feeling much more confident in that decision and expense.