Edinburgh Pet Health Center

Edinburgh Pet Health Center Case of
the Month - February 2017

By Dr. Andi Foster

Marley is a very special little kitty who was recently diagnosed with an extremely rare condition called Primary Hypoadrenocorticism (aka Addison’s Disease). Marley, a long-time patient of Edinburgh Pet Health Center, came to see us one day in January because he was not feeling well. He had been having a poor appetite for awhile as well as vomiting and urinary issues.

When Marley was examined, he was found to have a very low body temperature, low heart rate and blood pressure as well as abnormal kidney and electrolyte values. Abdominal radiographs and a
urine culture were normal. Marley was initially treated with medications to address his appetite as well as hospitalization with intravenous fluids to help his kidneys heal and balance out his unusual electrolyte disturbances.

Despite several days of hospitalization, Marley continued to feel worse; baffling his doctors. All along his kidney values were improving, but his body temperature, heart rate and electrolytes were dangerously abnormal. It was at this time that his doctors decided they needed to explore more unusual causes of his symptoms. It was suspected that Marley might be suffering from an adrenal gland deficiency, which in cats is very, very rare. However, if Marley did have this condition, he would not survive without proper treatment.

Marley’s loving mom agreed to have him evaluated the next day with a special test called an ACTH Stimulation test. The purpose of the test was to see if his adrenal glands were capable of producing adequate levels of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is critical to every day bodily functions, and when there is a deficiency in this hormone, animals like Marley, can become extremely sick and metabolically unstable. In addition to having very low cortisol levels, these patients also have dangerous aberrations in their electrolytes as a result of their adrenal gland dysfunction.This collection of hormonal aberrations is
called Addison’s disease.

Amazingly, Marley’s ACTH Stimulation test confirmed that he had Addison’s. While veterinarians occasionally diagnose this disease in dogs, it is extremely rare in cats. To date, there are only nine published case reports of Primary Addison’s disease in cats, spanning from 1983-2015. Marley will soon be the tenth!

Marley was promptly treated with two medications for Addison’s disease.The first medication was an oral steroid that provides adequate levels of the life-saving hormone, cortisol.The second was an injection of a medication called a “mineralocorticoid,” which provides the electrolyte balance that his body desperately needed. Marley will be on both of these medications for life. We are all so hopeful that his response to treatment will be as successful as it is in dogs, and that he can go on to live a long, happy, healthy life!

Way to go Marley – a one in a million cat!