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    Veterinary mis-diagnosis

    I'm not trying to raise anyone's hopes, or make this against veterinary personnel. What I want to pass along is my experience -- if you are told something that seems impossible -- maybe you are right and the tests are wrong.

    I have an 11 year old cat, Max. He's been an indoor cat since the day I found him in my garden at about 2 months old. He was tested for feline leukemia -- a virus that weakens the cat's immune system and makes them susceptible to disease -- when I found him, and again a couple years ago. Negative.

    The vet had suggested at at age 11 I consider a Senior Exam -- and I agreed. When he called with results I was told Max had hyperthyroidism. This is common in mid-age to older cats and can be treated. Oh, and also Max tested positive for feline leukemia. This stopped me in my tracks. We discussed the disease which is transmitted from infected cats by a transfer of saliva or nasal secretions, deep bites, etc. It's cat-to-cat.

    The vet went through all the normal questions -- did he escape outside, did I foster kittens, do I open windows and somehow he got infected through a screen, did someone visit with a cat, etc. No to all this. There is no way this could happen. The vet told me he's never seen a false-positive test, so we would continue to treat Max for any illnesses he comes down with. I was told to bring Max in for a basic T-4 test in another month (for the thyroid).

    I read every article I could find -- from reputable websites like veterinary schools and continued to feel this was impossible. Life expectancy after diagnosis averaged 2.5 years. I talked to my cat sitter, Robin -- who has been caring for my cats for 20 years in my home when we travel. She and I laughed about the fact that in 11 years she has seen Max once -- when he jumped out at her from under the bed trying to snag the hem of her long, flowy skirt -- and scared the living daylights out of her. Otherwise, she only sees his eyes watching her from under the bed. But, Robin suggested I have Max retested. She had worked in vet labs, and has seen mix ups, and false positives.

    I called for an appointment for the T4 test, and I wanted him re-tested for feline leukemia. The woman on the phone looked up my record -- again, asking me if Max had escaped outside, contact with other cats, etc., etc. And she told me they had sent the test to the lab, it was not done in-house (during my research I read about the two types of tests -- the lab test is the most accurate). I told her -- the only place Max could have been in contact with another cat is in YOUR office.

    When I brought him in, the tech who would do the blood draw for the T4 quizzed me again -- why are we doing another feline leukemia test? Because I cannot think of one instance where he could have been in contact with another cat and I want it done.

    Guess what? When the vet called me with results -- thyroid readings up again, prescribed meds. OK -- you need to bring Max in again two weeks after he starts the meds for another test. (He's getting ready to hang up.) I said, wait -- what about the feline leukemia test? Oh -- negative, negative, negative. (Rushing, again ready to hang up.) I said -- but it was positive a month ago. What? Huh, I didn't notice that. Yeah, first time I've ever seen that. Well, this is good news.

    Robin was my first call. Nowhere in my research did any veterinary site ever mention false-positive test results. It took someone with common sense, with experience with animals, to even suggest the vet could be wrong.

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    magickay (07-18-2022)

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