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Caregiver Feedback (Page 2)

The opinions expressed in the Caregiver Feedback pages are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Feline CRF Information Center.

Our cat, Abbey* was recently diagnosed with CRF. Tonight he is spending his first night away from us since we got him as a five week old kitten. He is undergoing IV treatments at the vet's. Our vet says that we won't really know his prognosis until he does more blood tests at the end of the IV treatment. We are hoping for the best. We want to thank you for developing your home page because in addition to giving us lots of needed information, it also gave us hope, which is in rather short supply right now.

Our Abbey is young for this disease--only five years--but we believe that his experiences as a kitten very likely contributed to his present illness. Pilot adopted him after he was found in a car which had been abandoned in a mall parking lot for three days. He was so tiny that he could sit in the palm of Pilot's hand. He is still very small, only weighs 5 pounds 9 ounces at the last vet visit.

Thanks again for the information and help. We do not have a scanner so are presently unable to send a picture of our little guy. But we do have a friend who has one and we will send one on to you.

Joan and Pilot :)

*On August 8, 1997, Abbey lost his battle with CRF. His photos and story are in the Tributes to CRF Cats Gallery.

It has taken so long for us to get back to you because Abbey came home last Wednesday and has become a "high maintenance" cat. By this I mean that it feels like he is trying to get all of the love and affection given and taken that he can during the time we have left together. Unfortunately, his BUN remained unmoved by the IV's, though the creatinine did go down by three points--to 6. The vet said that if he did o.k. in the next two weeks we could expect about six months more before the end. His first couple of days home were very hard because he really seemed not to do well; did not want to eat, was very weak. So we increased his sub-q amounts and added a little of his old food to the vet's prescription food (at the vet's suggestion) and now he seems to be doing better. So we give him lots of love. He spends a good part of his time sleeping (we can't tell whether this is good or bad because it was one of his favorite activities before he got sick too!). The difference now is that he seems to be very upset any time he has to be any distance from one of us. So we take shifts when awake. He loves to sleep with his head on Pilot's shoulder so we worked out a "sling" arrangement so that he just sort of hangs there like he's in a baby pack.

He sleeps on a pillow between us at night and spends a lot of time perched on my back if I lie on the couch to watch TV or read. Of course our friends think that this is all pretty insane. But we want our time with him to be as full of quality as possible. The hardest struggle is that emotional roller coaster ride that you all speak so eloquently about on your home page. I feel like I'm always watching him and trying to guess at how things are going. Hope and despair seem pretty close to each other at times. Hopefully when he goes back next week for another blood test things will be a little less unknown.

But I've gone on forever here. It is just great to be able to communicate with another CRF cat family and know there is somebody out there (besides our vet who has not ever questioned whether or not we are doing the right thing...he has other patients with CRF who are on sub-q's and meds at home so he understands) who does not think it's crazy to stick a needle in your cat every night! So thank you.

Joan and Pilot
(Joan writing while Pilot
cuddles the cat.) :)

I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for putting this information on line. I lost Annie (13) this past April and my Beagle, Nellie (17) is suffering from CRF, arthritis, and a stroke. I didn't pay enough attention to the signs Annie was giving me until it was too late; she lived only one week after taking her to the hospital. But what I learned from her, and others, is being used to help Nellie. I fear she's in her last days though. I found out about your site from the newsgroups; it is constantly recommended, HIGHLY, to the new users.

I just want you to know how much it is appreciated. Thank you.



What a great thing you and your husband did to put up that site. I really commend you. I had thought myself about getting someone from a local vet to do the sub-Q thing when I travel, which I will be this fall. There were many helpful tips on the site, and I related to the part about the special bond between a cat with this condition, and the human caring for him/her. I truly do feel a new and special connection to Marilyn since this happened. All best wishes to the three of you...

My cat was just diagnosed with CRF and I want to thank you for this wonderful site. Even though I'm a physician, I find your site extremely useful. We went to the vet three days ago, and I just learned about the diagnosis through the lab results yesterday (Cr 7, BUN 60). The worst is the weight loss--9 lbs June 7, 8 lbs 2.5 months later. He had just subtle changes--constipation mainly. But now that I know he has CRF, I can't tell if my cat is really deteriorating quickly (like over the past 2 days) or I'm just imagining things. It's so hard to tell--I'm sure I'm acting strangly to him so he's reacting strangely to that. Anyway, this site has really been comforting and a real help so thanks again.

I think your CRF site is wonderful. I've never seen another feline health site with as much breadth and depth of information presented so clearly and understandably. I've already found it helpful, and I don't even have a cat with CRF! Feedback has only one kidney, though, so I've started doing the "frequent checks" that you suggest for CRF cats.

Feedback and Laptop are both doing very well. I hope Avatar (what a beautiful cat) is happy and comfortable.

-- Laura

I just looked at your CRF pages and added them to my bookmarks. Thank you so much for putting all this information together in one place. I lost my first cat Alex to kidney failure.

Although I eventually found out lots of information about caring for her, it was certainly not all in one place. Thanks again!


I would just like to email you this note about your pages on CRF and thank you so much for taking the time to put into writing and making available all this information, as well as mentioning the things that you have gone through.

My 7 year old Seal point Siamese, Jasmine, was diagnosed on Saturday with CRF. The news hit my husband and I very hard as our two Siamese are our "babies". Some people think we are crazy for the way we treat them, but I do consider them my babies. Today, Jasmine's BUN and Creatinine (it's at 8.0 from 9.25 on Sunday) are still extremely high, they have gone down. She is also eating like a little "piglett" so that is a good sign.

Reading your page on The Emotional Roller Coaster. although it was hard, helps me realize that it is possible for the cat to still live an almost normal life.

I am not sure what tonight or even tomorrow will bring, but it helps to know that other people have gone through this and their pets are still with them.

Again, thank you very much for your pages and your words of encouragement.

Best regards,
Kerry-Lynn McCarthy

We wish to emphasize that the mashed potato diet in the following letter IS NOT a recommended and approved diet for cats with chronic renal failure. Darla also has inflammatory bowel disease and for whatever reasons, this diet works for Darla.

We took Darla* to UC Davis last January (1996) to find out about transplants. At that time we were told that she wasn't sick enough for a transplant. By May 1996 when she was sick enough, we again got in touch with the people at Davis. They gave us the names of three people whose cats went through the transplant procedure, and we talked to each of them by phone to see what their experiences had been. It was really a hard decision to make concerning the transplant, but we eventually decided to go ahead with it.

Prior to transplant, cats must have an ultrasound of their hearts (to make sure they have no abnormalities) and an endoscopy with biopsies of the GI tract (to make sure they do not have inflammatory bowel disease). Darla went through all of it. We were shocked to learn, as a result of the endoscopy, that she has inflammatory bowel disease. If a cat has inflammatory bowel disease, UC Davis will not do a transplant. So, the transplant option was closed to us.

As I understand it, when a cat has inflammatory bowel disease, its immune system is turned on and battling something in the intestinal tract -- although no one knows just what. If a foreign kidney is put into a cat like that, the immune system, which is already in high gear, just goes crazy trying to kill the kidney. We were told that inflammatory bowel cats are very, very sick after transplant, and they usually don't live a month. Their last days are all spent in intensive care at UC.

Since May, when we got the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, I have been feeding Darla mashed potatoes. I just started that diet on kind of a fluke, but it has worked out really well for us. In May, Darla was eating nothing. She wouldn't eat people food, regular catfood, low-protein catfood, or the inflammatory bowel food. (The inflammatory bowel food is another prescription catfood made with a different protein source -- either rabbit, duck, or venison, -- and potatoes and vitamins. The thinking is that these are all things that the average cat's GI tract has never seen before, and hence are unlikely to provoke some immune attack.)

I just watched as Darla got weaker and weaker, and I realized that part of the reason she felt so awful was unrelated to her kidney and bowel diseases. It was because she was eating nothing. Even I would feel awful if I didn't eat for a long time. I wanted to feed Darla something -- anything -- with a lot of calories, carbohydrates, and fats. It had to be something that I could get through a syringe. If she were a person, I would have considered milkshakes and things like that.

Then I looked at the inflammatory bowel food and saw that the first ingredient was "Potato." That seemed like a great idea. Potatoes are bland, low-protein, and I figured they wouldn't upset her GI tract too much. I made some mashed potatoes with butter and half-and-half, far richer than I would ever eat them myself, and gave them to Darla with a syringe. I know this sounds crazy, but within a few hours she was sitting up and seemed to feel better. We debated as to whether or not a second feeding that evening would be a good idea, and finally decided that it wouldn't hurt.

Within 4 days of the twice-a-day feedings, Darla was like a normal cat. I couldn't believe it. I had forgotten how chipper she had been before, because she had been listless and inactive for so many months. I called the vet and told him what I was doing, and he said to just continue. It was low-protein, it probably wouldn't hurt her, and it seemed to be helping her.

Anyway, I've been doing that -- twice-a-day syringe feedings of mashed potatoes -- since May 1996. I also put a tiny half-spoon of pureed meat into each meal for Darla. She is remarkably cooperative about being fed with a syringe. She's such a sweetheart. It takes us about 5 minutes twice a day.

Once Darla started feeling better, she began to want to eat by herself. I give her 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dry, low-protein catfood a day, and she also likes little bits of liver which I cook for her. She is even interested in things like chicken and fish now, which she completely ignored for months. The other thing about the syringe feeding is that I can get 80 to 100cc of fluid into Darla each day by mouth, and we have never done subcutaneous fluids.

Darla's BUN has come down (it was actually in the normal range in September) since we started this diet. Her creatinine is kind of stuck at about 4.5. Her electrolytes have remained okay, and she's not anemic. She has also gained weight. Right now she's a little heavier than she's ever been before. The main thing is that she seems to feel good.

I'll hand feed her as long as her quality of life is good. I have my routine worked out. I make up a big batch of potatoes and pureed chicken and liver every week or two and I freeze little portions for daily use.

November 13, 1996

*Darla's photo is in our Tributes to CRF Cats Gallery.

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