Loki’s health

Part of this, near the beginning, is probably already in the previous post, but I’m going to try to cover everything. This may be a little long, because of that. If you want just the summary, read the part in the box below. This is really, really not how I wanted to start a year I was hoping would be better than the last two…

Loki was diagnosed in May 2007 with borderline elevated kidney values. A change of diet has kept it controlled, with no change in Nov 2007 and Aug 2008. Due to more pronounced weight loss recently, we took him to the vet on 31 Dec 2008. In general he looked good for a cat of his age.

Blood work results came back today: his renal [kidney] values have climbed somewhat, although not to drastic levels, and other values all look good. This means that we now have to start giving him subcutaneous fluids once a week, he’s on a small dose of mirtazapine for a couple of weeks to help settle his upset tummy, and the vet and I agreed to try mixing some of each of 4 kinds of renal food (not all at once!) in with his regular food. If you want more info on Feline Chronic Renal Failure, check out this site.

I’ve been though this before, am not looking forward to doing it again, but Loki’s so much healthier than my Nermal was, and we caught it so much earlier, that it’s actually reasonably promising that even though there is no cure, we can give him plenty of time with no significant loss of quality of life.

Here’s the details, for anyone who wants them:

November 17, 2003, I took my beloved cat Nermal to the vet for a final visit to set him free — after a lifetime of sporadic health issues, a diagnosis of diabetes some years before (well controlled on oral hypoglycemics), and a final nightmarish three months of first trying to find why he was losing weight, then trying desperately to control late-stage renal (kidney) failure — it didn’t work.

May 2007, Loki went to the vet for an odd catch in his breathing, and had senior blood work done at the same time. Diagnosis: asthma, which is pretty well controlled on inhaled meds, and very marginal signs of renal issues. Diet is the key factor in controlling early renal issues. There is a huge debate over a low-protein diet designed specifically for cats with renal problems vs. a non-renal-diet of high quality meat protein. (This is an excellent site for feline renal failure.) After much debate and lots of research, we switched all three cats to a by-product-free, grain-free, moderate protein diet. Follow-up results in December 2007 and August 2008 showed his asthma under control, and no change in his kidney values. He has, however, been gradually but steadily losing weight since 2003, which wasn’t hugely noticeable, him being the long-and-lean type anyway.

In late December 2008, it was clear that he was losing more weight, more quickly. He was cold a lot, spending as much time as possible curled up under one of the reading lamps I’ve kept set up for him all his life (60-watt incandescent bulb, kitty bed underneath, makes a nice warm sleepy spot). Threw up a couple of times, but that’s not so uncommon for him. No change in drinking, eating, urinating, bowel movements. He’s had a few falls lately, jumping for high spots, but otherwise has still been active and alert and playful. Pupils don’t contract normally.

We took him to the vet day before yesterday, 31 Dec. Same vet who was Nermal’s primary caregiver. He’d lost about 10% of his body weight in 4 months (4.9 kg to 4.31 kg). No signs of pale gums etc, suggesting anemia. Retinas show no sign of hemorrhage, which can cause dilation (and is caused by high blood pressure). Right kidney is quite small, but no masses or tender areas. Breathing and heart rate essentially normal, no odd sounds. He stayed there for a couple of hours for a thorough blood pressure test and to get blood taken and have chest x-rays done. Blood pressure high normal, which is normal for a cat at a vet when they’re not very happy. X-rays showed no problems with his heart, no masses, and that his lungs are looking pretty good for a kitty with asthma.

I’ve been giving him extra wet food, trying to encourage him to eat more. The last three nights, he’s brought up a teaspoon or so of food at about 4 am, and been very hungry afterwards.

Blood work results came in this morning (blessings on the lab that worked through New Year’s!) and the vet called me. Thyroid is good, no anemia, potassium and phosphorus are good… but his kidney values are climbing.

She suggests a pill I can give him every three days, to settle his stomach and stimulate his appetite. She wants him to start getting subcutaneous fluids (fluids from an IV bag, directly under the skin, which can be done at home) once a week, to help keep him from dehydrating and to help his kidneys flush, sort of like a very ultra-basic dialysis. I’ve done it before, and I’m not looking forward to doing it again with my squirmy-beast who hates being held. And she really wants him on a kidney diet. I’m willing to try mixing some in with his regular food, although I have serious doubts he’ll ever be willing to eat just that. I have two cans/packages each of 4 types here, and the ingredient list on two of them looks much less alarming (ie, full of “meat by-products” and the like) than the other two. We’ll see how willing he is to eat them.

I’m in an immense amount of turmoil right now. Nermal’s final two months were hellish. But, Loki’s not diabetic, has always been very healthy, and this time, it’s been diagnosed EARLY. Everything else on his blood-work, including the all-important phosphorus, look quite promising. There’s no cure, but there are cats living quite happily, with excellent quality of life, with astonishingly low kidney function. I’m terrified, and the thought of my Loki-baby, who has always been so incredibly full of life and mischief, fading away on me is enough to make me cry.

This isn’t going to help the financial situation, either, and it was already rather worrying.

The vet left me with a copy of his last three blood-work results, which I’m going to turn into a page here later — I need to convert the values from International to US, since a large percentage of the folks on the Feline CRF Yahoo Groups are much more familiar with US values (why does the US feel the need to use a different system from the rest of the world, anyway?).

One Comment

  1. Oh no!

    I hope your Loki feels better soon!

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