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Old 09-28-2011, 01:11 AM
Status: "Weird Al rules." (set 14 hours ago)
 
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Default kitty with kidney disease needs to gain weight

Once a cat has kidney disease, is it at all possible for her to gain weight back? She's only gone from 11.1 to 10.6 pounds, but she feels much bonier on the back of her neck and spine area. She is on k/d canned food (Hills Science Diet), which as far as I know in itself does not cause a cat to lose weight. She eats most of what she is given, though she does not like it as much as Friskies, which she used to eat every day.

Is it better to give her any lower-phosphorous food (better for the kidney issues) that she will eat more of, or keep her on the k/d as much as possible? Is there anything safe to give to a kidney disease kitty that will more likely get her to gain some weight back? I don't want her to get really thin and overly fragile. Thank you.

I have talked to the vet about this and all they preach is k/d, because of course they are selling it.
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Old 09-28-2011, 04:42 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Originally Posted by trustmeiknow View Post
Is it better to give her any lower-phosphorous food (better for the kidney issues) that she will eat more of, or keep her on the k/d as much as possible? Is there anything safe to give to a kidney disease kitty that will more likely get her to gain some weight back? I don't want her to get really thin and overly fragile. Thank you.
From everything I read, the answer to the part in bold is yes. In recent years it has become much more accepted that it's more important to have the cat eat than it is to have the absolute ideal food. The prescription foods are not necessarily full of the best ingredients anyway, so you may have a win-win if you can find other foods fairly low in phosphorus that she will eat. This is the important bit.

We had a kidney disease cat a few years ago, and it was a tough thing, and I didn't know as much about these details as I do now. My remaining cat has hyperthyroid, and we are also trying to stabilize her weight. I actually went back to feeding her some more dry because that's what she most readily eats. The dry food is Wysong Epigen, which apparently is pretty low in phosphorous as it goes. But I wouldn't suggest turning to this unless you know you have a dry food addict.

Both Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Renal Failure and Feline CRF Information Center - Reception Desk are good sources of info about kidney disease in cats. But this food info on the former site is probably what will help you most: Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline CRF - Which Foods to Feed (and Which to Avoid)

You may want to try another vet if you can find one. My vet doesn't sell food, for example, at least not that I know of. Some may be more enlightened on this food issue.

Is your kitty getting sub-q fluid treatment? If not you may want to look into this as well. This may help her feel better which in turn may help her appetite.

Whether she will actually gain weight back, I don't know. In my cat's case, the last time I was at the vet, he said this was a good weight for her, but we really should try to stabilize it so it doesn't go lower. I suspect you are at a similar place now.

Good luck and I think you are thinking along the right lines, for what it's worth.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42 View Post
From everything I read, the answer to the part in bold is yes. In recent years it has become much more accepted that it's more important to have the cat eat than it is to have the absolute ideal food. The prescription foods are not necessarily full of the best ingredients anyway, so you may have a win-win if you can find other foods fairly low in phosphorus that she will eat. This is the important bit.

We had a kidney disease cat a few years ago, and it was a tough thing, and I didn't know as much about these details as I do now. My remaining cat has hyperthyroid, and we are also trying to stabilize her weight. I actually went back to feeding her some more dry because that's what she most readily eats. The dry food is Wysong Epigen, which apparently is pretty low in phosphorous as it goes. But I wouldn't suggest turning to this unless you know you have a dry food addict.

Both Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Renal Failure and Feline CRF Information Center - Reception Desk are good sources of info about kidney disease in cats. But this food info on the former site is probably what will help you most: Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline CRF - Which Foods to Feed (and Which to Avoid)

You may want to try another vet if you can find one. My vet doesn't sell food, for example, at least not that I know of. Some may be more enlightened on this food issue.

Is your kitty getting sub-q fluid treatment? If not you may want to look into this as well. This may help her feel better which in turn may help her appetite.

Whether she will actually gain weight back, I don't know. In my cat's case, the last time I was at the vet, he said this was a good weight for her, but we really should try to stabilize it so it doesn't go lower. I suspect you are at a similar place now.

Good luck and I think you are thinking along the right lines, for what it's worth.
^^ what he said

Good luck with your girlie. I had a terrible time with my CRF kitty too, with both appetite and weight loss. My vet is of the school of thought that "it's more important that she eat, than what she eats", within moderation of course. She didn't mean feed her ham every day. But she would not eat k/d.

I agree with greg about the sub q fluids too, making her feel better and giving her a better appetite.

B-12 shots every couple of weeks can help with appetite too.

Oh and one more thing, if she hasn't had blood work in a while, do get it done, and have her thyroid tested. Often these two diseases go hand in hand. If she's developing hyperthyroid, getting her on methimazole will help too.
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:33 PM
 
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
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I had a picky siamese with CRF, she refused to eat anything that was labeled as cat food, and wouldn't do raw.

So.....I would buy organic chicken thighs with the bone in, simmer them in water for about an hour, then take them out and pull the meat off the bone and shred it. Then add some shredded carrots, brown rice, cook them down, put the chicken back in and add water if needed to make a "stew". Then I would portion it out in ice cube trays, freeze it and then just microwave her one a couple times a day.

I added the carrots and rice because she always ate them off my plate. I felt it was necessary to get her to eat and stay hydrated, she made it 2 years longer than the vets gave her, so for me it worked.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:41 AM
Status: "Weird Al rules." (set 14 hours ago)
 
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Oh, no, Cali's not a dry food addict. She's been off that for almost a year and doesn't miss it. She is much more likely to eat "pate" canned food, anything that doesn't come in little pieces. When something comes in pieces she licks the gravy and won't eat the chunks of food. So she's gotta have something that's in one solid block. Her appetite is good now--no problem there. She wants to eat but gets burned out pretty easily. I have to keep moving the dish around to get her to eat it all; it's like a new food every time it's in a slightly new location!

I am familiar with the sites you mentioned, thank you! She has not had sub-q fluids but that is a good idea. How long do the positive effects last?

Her bloodwork was just done. Part of that appeared to be a thyroid test because T4 is mentioned. No specific results on that but since they didn't mention it to be a problem I've been assuming it's fine.

I heard one can try Gerber level 2 baby food in meat flavors, but I don't know what the phosphorous levels in that would be. Anybody ever tried that?
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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Baby food can constipate cats, and constipation is already a problem for kitty's with CRF, so I would save that for desperate measures.

I'm glad she has a good appetite. Sub q fluids helps keep the body and kidneys flushed out so all the stuff the failing kidneys can't filter isn't hanging around in the blood.

Some vets prefer daily sub q, others recommend a higher quantity less frequently. My tiny girl was getting 200 ml every other day. It took her less than a month to make the connection between getting the fluids and feeling better.

My girlie also did not like to eat very much at once. She would eat a few bites, then walk away. I would follow her with the dish, fluff up the food, and put it in front of her again. She would eat a few bites and walk away, and I would repeat the process, until I was sure she was finished.

She always did better with less food in the dish. If I put more than a tablespoon of canned food in her dish at once, she wouldn't go near it. So you might try smaller portions more often. (but even with that small amount I still had to fluff and follow as described above)
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Heh, funny, my cat is the opposite with the canned food. Won't touch a pate, has to be chunky. Which makes it hard, really. There are many more high quality food choices that are pate or at least ground up and closer to pate.

Interesting idea with moving the dish around, might have to try that. No matter how much I try, Amber only eats so much wet food, even back when I had the dry food completely removed from the process. And with her continuing to lose weight I figured I would just heed the vet's suggestion to free feed dry at this point because I know she'll eat it.

Catsmom can probably tell you more firsthand about sub-q fluids. We never did this with our cat and actually it never came up with the vet either. So if your vet hasn't brought this up you may want to bring it up and see what they say, or you may want to find a vet that is more open to it and familiar with it. I have a friend who had a CRF cat who lived something like 3-4 years after diagnosis. This cat had a port for the fluids; the term port might be familiar to anyone who had or knows someone who had chemotherapy. (My mother is a nurse and had breast cancer so I already knew how a port was used when I ran across it in regards to the cat.) Anyway, the port allowed for easy sub-q fluid treatments at home without giving the cat injections. My friend devised some kind of vest for the kitty to wear eventually so that she wouldn't accidentally (or purposefully!) pull out the port. There is some info on this here Feline CRF Information Center - Subcutaneous Fluid Therapy Look at the box on the lower right where it says GIF-Tube. You can also learn to give injections yourself, of course, and many do. Or you could have someone else give the injections, but that isn't really practical because the frequency is likely to be at least weekly, and later it could be daily. The same page linked above gives info about that. A few cats, apparently, don't tolerate sub-q fluids at all and thus wouldn't be candidates for continued treatment with them.

I think it's reasonable that the thyroid would be in normal range unless they said something, but definitely keep an eye on her weight. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get a scale and weigh her regularly; I've been thinking about doing that myself. Weight change can be an early indicator of a lot of things, as I've found. I think we caught the thyroid fairly early; she's been on methimazole for more than a year now I think and seems to be otherwise fairly normal. But a key indication of hyperthyroid will be a fairly quick weight drop despite eating plenty. I would get new bloodwork every 6 months if you can, or perhaps sooner if something doesn't seem right.
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42 View Post
Heh, funny, my cat is the opposite with the canned food. Won't touch a pate, has to be chunky. Which makes it hard, really. There are many more high quality food choices that are pate or at least ground up and closer to pate.

Interesting idea with moving the dish around, might have to try that. No matter how much I try, Amber only eats so much wet food, even back when I had the dry food completely removed from the process. And with her continuing to lose weight I figured I would just heed the vet's suggestion to free feed dry at this point because I know she'll eat it.

Catsmom can probably tell you more firsthand about sub-q fluids. We never did this with our cat and actually it never came up with the vet either. So if your vet hasn't brought this up you may want to bring it up and see what they say, or you may want to find a vet that is more open to it and familiar with it. I have a friend who had a CRF cat who lived something like 3-4 years after diagnosis. This cat had a port for the fluids; the term port might be familiar to anyone who had or knows someone who had chemotherapy. (My mother is a nurse and had breast cancer so I already knew how a port was used when I ran across it in regards to the cat.) Anyway, the port allowed for easy sub-q fluid treatments at home without giving the cat injections. My friend devised some kind of vest for the kitty to wear eventually so that she wouldn't accidentally (or purposefully!) pull out the port. There is some info on this here Feline CRF Information Center - Subcutaneous Fluid Therapy Look at the box on the lower right where it says GIF-Tube. You can also learn to give injections yourself, of course, and many do. Or you could have someone else give the injections, but that isn't really practical because the frequency is likely to be at least weekly, and later it could be daily. The same page linked above gives info about that. A few cats, apparently, don't tolerate sub-q fluids at all and thus wouldn't be candidates for continued treatment with them.

I think it's reasonable that the thyroid would be in normal range unless they said something, but definitely keep an eye on her weight. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get a scale and weigh her regularly; I've been thinking about doing that myself. Weight change can be an early indicator of a lot of things, as I've found. I think we caught the thyroid fairly early; she's been on methimazole for more than a year now I think and seems to be otherwise fairly normal. But a key indication of hyperthyroid will be a fairly quick weight drop despite eating plenty. I would get new bloodwork every 6 months if you can, or perhaps sooner if something doesn't seem right.
Great post again, greg.

My little Bridge Angel lived three years with CRF. She also had megacolon and as the years progressed, severe arthritis, high blood pressure, hyperthyroid and stroke. It was a third stroke that made her say "enough", not the kidney disease. Her little body couldn't tolerate the methimazole (in any form, we tried them all) or the Norvasc (high blood pressure meds) so those things went unchecked, which is why she was prone to stroke.

I agree with frequent blood work, at least every six months, more often if you can afford it.

Sub q is not hard to learn how to do, as long as one has confidence in his or her ability.

I've discovered it is a very handy skill to have, as I have other cats with other health issues, and sometimes they need fluids. I and my vet trust my judgement on whether it is something I can handle at home, and so I have saved the cats some trips to the vet, being able to hydrate them at home.
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:01 AM
Status: "Weird Al rules." (set 14 hours ago)
 
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First of all, thank you all so much for all of this information. I am so thrilled to "talk" to people that have experience with this and know their stuff. I can only get info from the vet when one of the cats has an appointment and we see one of them face-to-face. Every time I call and leave questions with the receptionist, I never hear back from a vet. The vet's office is moving and they have been losing vets left and right, so it's a strange situation. A vet we saw there before who isn't there anymore recommended the sub-q fluids, but the vet that is still there now is more old school and more of a dog person. The sub-q process sounds scary honestly but it may be the best thing.

I do give this kitty additional small portions of canned food when she comes up to me to ask, because I now have the policy, if she wants food, she gets it. She also eats 6 Greenies a day (originally recommended for dental health way before the kidney disease diagnosis) and I wonder if this is now bad for her kidneys, because it counts as dry food? On most days she is very excited to get the Greenies, though, so I'd feel bad taking them away from her.

She is now getting bloodwork/vet visits every three months, so now that I am aware there could be a thyroid issue I will be sure to ask about it, in addition to sub-q.
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Old 09-30-2011, 06:20 AM
 
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I love your attitude and think you and your kitty will do well. I've never understood why vets don't put cats on sub q as soon as their bloodwork shows failing kidney numbers. It makes such a difference for them.

It's not hard to do, just takes a little practice is all. I was very stressed about it for a couple of months and then it just became part of the routine.
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