Like Humans, Pets Can Have Anaphylactic Allergic Reaction

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Manic:  Coming home to see our kitty Lucy’s eye swollen up triple the normal size and watching her become a little lethargic.

Managed:  Decided as a family not to put off medical care, so at 10pm on a Thursday night, I rushed her to the 24 hour emergency pet hospital.  This particular hospital called 1st Pet Veterinary Centers has several Valley locations.  I took Lucy to the Chandler location and they were excellent.

As soon as we arrived, we were given our own private room, which was good for a nervous and aching Lucy girl.  She chose to hide behind the computer as the nurse triaged her condition.  at ER vetThey let us stay in that room until the veterinarian came in and that really helped Lucy to stay calm.  Once the vet came in, I explained to her that little Lucy was battling an eye infection, so earlier in the day I had given her a drop of the eye medicine that our other cat takes when his eye flares up.  To my credit, I had brought the eye drop medicine with me. Once the vet took a look at the type of feline eye drop, she informed that a small percentage of cats are deathly allergic to this type of eye drop.  Lucy was having a serious allergic reaction, so off she went to receive sort of a human (but for felines) Epi pen course of Benadryl and steroids.  She also had her eye flushed out and a battery of tests performed to ensure that her organs weren’t affected by this serious allergic reaction.  Boy, was I glad that I had made the decision to bring her to emergency care.

She was returned to me with a blue cone around her head and with instructions that she be kept away from our two other cats for the next three days.

Poor girl!

Poor girl!

I was also sent home with pain killers and a daily eye ointment and with very strict instructions that she never again be given the offending feline eye drop that she is allergic to….I agreed!

I wanted to write this post to inform pet owners that pets can have severe allergic reactions to meds, insect bites, certain foods, plants and other items that you might not suspect.  If your pet doesn’t look right and doesn’t act like him or herself, don’t put off going to see the vet.  Had we waited, I’m told, Lucy may have gone into anaphylactic shock.  Before they took her back to treat the allergic reaction, I had to sign a form with a checkbox option that included a DNR.  That took me by surprise as she is a healthy 2 1/2 year old kitty and she belongs to my daughter, who asked me several years ago if she could rescue a black cat since “so many people walk right past the black ones” and that touched my heart.  So Lucy came into our lives when I felt like my girl was mature enough to take on a pet.  Lucy has been absolutely wonderful and especially loving to my daughter’s tween gal pals.  Lucy seems to prefer that age group the most.

Baby Lucy even let her human Mama put her in a dress!

Baby Lucy even let her human Mama put her in a dress!

She has grown into a lovely and cuddly cat with her human mom.

She has grown into a lovely and cuddly cat with her human mom.

Yep, this cat would be saved and brought back home tonight no matter what!

Yep, this cat would be saved and brought back home tonight no matter what!


So if I had anything to do with it, this cat would be saved and brought right back home to my girl.  I checked the box that allowed emergency measures to be performed if she were go to into cardiac arrest during the treatments.  It is a very rare occurrence, but the pet owner must check the desired box.  We did return home at 2am and the emergency vet bill wasn’t cheap.  The vet was very good about letting me know the exact costs and getting my permission every step of the way.

I was supposed to go to Flagstaff the next morning for a fun gal pal getaway and to see my son play hockey up North. However, with Lucy’s serious condition, I chose to stay home and care for her around the clock. The first day she was not herself at all, very sluggish and a little out of it.  I made the decision to take her off the painkillers on day 2 because I felt that she didn’t like the drugged feeling and how it was impairing her ability to get around.  I also made a follow up call to our regular vet, even though he hadn’t treated her since we had to go to the emergency clinic due to the after hours time of Lucy’s reaction.  lucy recoveringThat was a smart move because he was able to read the long and very thorough report that the emergency clinic had faxed over to him and break it down for me.  At the time it was all explained to me during the emergency visit, it was close to 2am and I was exhausted and found it hard to focus in just right on every detail that they had told me about Lucy’s condition.  My vet, Dr. Alex MacKenzie at Foothills Animal Hospital called me right back and explained the long emergency vet report to me.  He also asked me to email him photos of Lucy’s eye and told me that if I needed to bring her in the next day, which was a Saturday, to just call the front office and tell them that he said that he would fit us in no matter what.

So the next day came and Lucy’s fun personality had returned.  We were joyful, but her eye still looked pretty bad.

lucy eyeSo after much pondering, because I didn’t want to put her through the stress of another vet visit, we decided at a few minutes before the office closed to go ahead and bring her in to her vet.  They agreed and honored Dr. MacKenzie’s instructions to fit us in, despite the office being overloaded with several pet emergencies. Lucy seemed to immediately know that she was back with her own beloved doctor.  She laid on the exam table and waited for his arrival, letting us pet and soothe her.  Dr. MacKenzie gave her a very soothing eye drop, that seemed to give her instant relief.  I am so thankful to have such a wonderful vet and his staff is also very kind and terrific with animals, like our nervous Lucy, who like most cats, doesn’t love going to the vet.  They did have to secure her in a towel to hold her still, but she does like Dr. MacKenzie and seems to trust him, as much as I do.   He has seen us through the care and passing of our two previous beloved kitties and has been equally attentive and wonderful with the next generation of Harris cats.

So now we wait for her eye to fully recover.  It will take some time because the allergic reaction really took its toll on her poor eye.  I felt like a horrible cat Grandma (my daughter says that I’m the cat Grandma to her Lucy girl) because I had given her our other cat’s eye drop.  However, Dr. MacKenzie told me not to scold myself because there was no way of knowing that she would be allergic and he may have told me to give her that very drop.  That made me feel better.

So I wrote this post to let pet owners know that pets can have very serious allergic reactions to all sorts of things.  If you suspect a reaction or notice that your pet is just not right, follow your gut and get your furry friend in to see a vet immediately.  I’m so glad that I did.

And as Lucy continues to recover, she seemed to thank me just last night as she purred loudly (even with that cumbersome cone on her head) and accepted belly rubs and multiple kissed placed squarely on her little head.  snuggly lucy with cone on headBless her kitty heart.  Animals are so innocent, trusting and love us unconditionally.  IMG_5766She was very worth missing my Flagstaff trip. Flag will always be there, but our beloved pets will not.  So pay attention to their well being and follow your pet parent gut when it comes to their health and behavior.  And the icing on the cake for me was when my girl texted me this morning and said, “you are the best Mom ever and thank you for caring for Lucy”….you got it, my love.

I’m looking forward to Lucy looking like this again.  Lucy's pretty eyesShe has beautiful big green eyes. The vet tells me to give it a few more days for her to make a full recovery.  So wait we will and we continue to nurse her back to good health and to be thankful for good veterinarians, 24 hour animal hospitals and our beloved pets.  And I think that her brothers miss her, too.  She will be reunited with them soon.two cute cats
all 3 cats


  1. maryanne mildner says:

    I’m holding little girl, Annie, in my lap while reading the Lucy story. So glad everything turned out well.

    • says:

      Me too! She is still struggling with a little cold, bless her little kitty heart….but she is on the mend.