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Caregiver Feedback (Page 5)

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.

Thank you for such a wonderfully informative website! My cat, Tarr, is a ten year old black Persian diagnosed with CRF only 3 days ago and I felt totally helpless and thought that we were losing her. After reading a cat magazine and finding your site I was anxious to check it out. I came away with lots of great information and now feel a bit better knowing that I at least don't have to give her up without a fight. I will definitely be posting your announcement on the bulletin board at the vet's office.

Some tips I'd like to pass along about "treats" that I am learning with Tarr-she loves her treats which, of course, are high protein and now forbidden, so I give her a bit of margarine or cream cheese on my finger and she loves it. Also we make a big show of going to the "treat cupboard" and giving her some of a low protein dry food that she doesn't eat everyday and she doesn't even miss her other treats. I hope this info helps someone with their cat and I will be checking this site for further info as our struggle continues-every extra day with her will be a blessing. Good luck with Avatar-I feel for what you are going through. Thanks again for the information.

Cheryl


I went to my vet this morning to get more fluids and needles. We discussed Toot* and he said based on what I told him he thinks Toot is doing very well. I said my main concern right now are his wobbly legs......the vet said it's a very common symptom of all old cats, kidney problems or not. But there is a new homeopathic treatment called "Renal Complex" which is Kidney Lyophilized Gland Concentrate with Synergistic complex. It contains Kidney Tissue, Vitamin A, Ascorbic Acid, dandelion root, parsley. From what I remember of what he said, this complex is absorbed in the kidney, it might even replace damaged kidney tissue and helps with absorption. It's active kidney tissue, which is interesting. It's the "newest" thing.........I'll try and get more info.

Karen

*Toot lost his fight with CRF on April 25, 1997


This is just a note to say a very heartfelt "THANK YOU" for your wonderful and informative website. I am spending a few hours every day reading and re-reading things. It is how I find comfort in dealing with the deteriorating health of Droppie*, our much loved CRF-cat. He has had it for about a year, but only started getting visibly worse in the last couple of months.

At present he is getting IV, with some added erythropoietin for his (mild) anemia, and the ulcers that are starting to develop in his mouth. According to our vet, IV is not nearly as traumatic as stated in your pages (we have shown him those), and he considers sub-Q fluids very risky here in the hot and humid climate of northern Australia, where indeed every scratch on the skin goes septic if not treated immediately.

Droppie's weight has gone from 8.5 to 5.9 kg and he has little appetite, but with those ulcers, that is not surprising. He remained extremely picky as far as food was concerned. (We wonder why k/d food has to be so totally un-appetising; surely the manufacturers can do something about that.) The appetite-improving tablets (containing a bit of anabolic steroid) seemed to be working a little bit, but the ulcers countered that.

Later today or tomorrow he will come home again, and we hope that he will feel a lot better. We'll do everything we can to keep his quality of life as high as possible, but no one knows how long that will be possible.

Ted
ted@dme.nt.gov.au

*Droppie lost his fight with CRF on February 14, 1997. His photo and story are in our Tributes to CRF Cats Gallery.


Fatboy is my pal, a 17 1/2 year old part Siamese, part Russian Blue who was born in a house I have lived in since 1976. He picked me out early, when he was about three weeks old and the first cat in a litter of three to make his way out of the box he was born in. Last summer, he was diagnosed with chronic renal failure, a heart-breaking sentence for me as much as him.

He hasn't done badly so far, I've got him on a KD diet, which seems to agree with him. He has put on some weight, and the water intake has decreased. But it is clear to me that he is declining, his breath is highly toxic and he has what appears to be the beginning of slight tremors. Initially, I checked out the idea of a transplant, UC Davis is not far from where I live, but it seems that it would be cruel to put him through something like that at his age.

So I am left with the various palliatives that may slow his decline, although I fear it is a matter of months rather than years. One question I do have, is there any place that does kidney dialysis for cats? And if not, why not? It would seem to me that if transplants are an option, then dialysis should be available as well. Is it possible, and are there any places in or around San Francisco? I have read, and downloaded your excellent website and would appreciate any advice.

Richard


I have a 3 1/2 year old Oriental Shorthair (Chocolate point) who was diagnosed with CRF 18 months ago. Her condition is being controlled with Hill's Feline K/D. Your site has helped me understand her condition better than any other educational material I could find, and I have spent endless hours trying to educate myself so I can take the best care possible of her.

She (Ditto) has undergone bloodwork, urinalysis, and ultrasound with no diagnostics to indicate the cause of her high BUN, Creatinine and other levels out of range. I opted to forego the biopsy because it would not change her treatment (K/D food only) and would only be stressful to Ditto.

Have you had any experience with cats this young (2 yrs when diagnosed) with CRF with no family history (I know the breeder) of the disease at an early age?

I am prepared to undergo the kidney transplant if and when it will be needed to substain her quality of life. Thank you again for such informative information.

Cindi and Ditto


My lovable, 12 yr old cat, Tasha was just diagnosed two days ago with CRF, by our vet, the High BUN and Creatinine, and elevated sodium and chloride confirmed the vet's and ours worst fear.

Just as your opening page said I was utterly shell-shocked, and devastated. (I remember just less than 15 yrs ago, CRF was usually a very quick "death sentence" as not a whole lot of 'Maintenance work was being done' and CRF was rarely caught in the early stages, it was usually only diagnosed in the late acute and terminal complete and utter Kidney failure of the patient..) So my heart sank and the tears and heartache had already begun...

And then I discovered your WONDERFUL web site!!! What a BLESSING it has been, and also a wonderful beginning of healing and dealing for both me AND Tasha! I have now learned about such things as Sub Q treatments, low protein diets and other little tricks and strategies to help my beloved Tasha, and through your wonderful and thorough information and letters from other owners of cats with CRF, have learned that, indeed, although CRF is terminal, that cat and owner can have several QUALITY years together!!!

I first learned something was 'wrong' with Tasha when she began to drop her weight from nearly 18 lbs, down now to just barely 6. And her thirst and urine had increased to unheard of levels..At first I had thought maybe feline diabetes, but it was CRF...

I know that the time will come when Tasha and I must part ways in this life, and I would never prolong her suffering. As of now, except for her low weight and elevated lab results it would be hard to tell she is sick. There is the spark of life in her eyes and the energy of a younger cat in her regal steps. She is now on Hills Science Diet K/D, and will be starting her Sub Q, treatments next week. I now have a sense of peace in my OWN heart, and can now begin to deal with her illness and what will be the inevitable result. Your Web site will be HIGHLY recommended by me to our vet, and to any other owners of cats that are diagnosed with CRF.

Thanks you so much again, for giving Cats and owners a forum to begin to deal with this disease, to understand it and to HEAL inside their own hearts... Good luck with Avatar and good luck to all the other wonderful owners and their special "Soulmate Pets". I will keep you all advised of Tasha's battle with this disease...I hope that she may live for many years yet like Avatar and some of the other lucky ones...But even if I only have a few months with her, it will have been 12 years of utter love and specialness between us..

Thank you again.
Jackie E. and TASHA


I found your web page a couple of weeks ago and have learned far more through it than from my vet or the cat books I read at bookstores.

Phil* is my 13 year-old cat who began symptoms late last spring. Before he began losing weight rapidly, he had an upset stomach much of the time. He didn't throw up, but had hiccups often at night (between purrs).

His weight is now stable (although it is much less than his former weight). He will not eat the canned feline kd. He eats the dry occasionally. I tried the recipe you included. He loved the first batch, hated the second, & hasn't decided about the third. His primary source of food has been the Kal Kan Optimum (lowest protein I could find) and frozen corn thawed in the microwave as a treat. It is great to know there may be other options.

He has had one sub-q at the vet's. Otherwise, I have been treating him with diet alone. He does have his first appointment with a holistic vet at the end of the month. I am not sure that it is a wise move, but if I can treat him in a way that doesn't put him through all the needles (or postpones that), I'm all for it. He is a sweet cat even if he has gotten some weird habits lately!

During the winter Phil got chilled easily. I found a Heat Seat at the Tuesday Morning store nearby. It is supposed to be used for keeping spectators at football games warm, but it is great for him & is an alternative for a heating pad. The insert is placed in a microwave & warmed before being placed in the padded cushion (which can be washed). He likes it so well I got another one this weekend. Besides, my other cat wanted her own! If you want and can't find a Heat Seat, look in the sporting goods places for heatable wraps. These have some type of pellets that do the same thing as the gel in the Heat Seat insert. They can be put in the freezer as well.

Here are a couple of other items I thought of:
If your cat loses interest in his food quickly, give it to him in a saucer instead of a bowl (found this hint in a cat book, but it works). Phil will no longer eat more than a few bites if his food is in a bowl, but he eats more if it is in a saucer.

It helps to elevate the food off the floor. I just found out that putting the dish on an upturned plant saucer is just about the right height.

If the cat is disinterested, try giving him food in unusual locations. I sometimes wake him up and offer him food in his bed. I just hold a newspaper under the dish so that it extends beyond the dish a couple of inches. It serves as a bib. He likes to eat in places which used to be "forbidden".

Stay with your cat while he eats. Phil usually loses interest as soon as most of the extra liquid added to his food is gone. I freshen it for him, or put it in front of him again after he has moved away. This doesn't work every time, but Phil has always been pretty well-mannered, and will usually eat a little more.

Your cat may have an upset stomach much of the time. I found some cat digestive enzymes at Petsmart & have been adding some to his food. I don't add as much as they say because he eats several times a day. When he does eat the food with the enzymes at night, he doesn't throw up.

Expect some strange behavior. When Phil first got sick, he chased my other cat all the time and was very aggressive. Now he is no longer so aggressive (although he has his moments occasionally), but has developed some real quirks. He prefers to drink rain water over tap. His favorite water dish is a 12 inch plant saucer which is outside in the patio. He also loves to run and jump onto my piano and sit on top of it so he can watch the birds outside the window more easily.

Hope this helps someone. This condition has consumed much of my attention. This is almost the same as having a family member diagnosed with a terminal condition. Yes, we expect to outlive our pets, so we shouldn't be surprised when they show signs of age. But vets differ on the amount of information they tell us (or know) and so it is easy to feel isolated in dealing with this.

Thanks for going to all the trouble of making this information available. It really helps to know what seems to work for others dealing with this and it's nice to know that we are not alone in this.

Give my best to Avatar!

Andrea
PianoKitty@aol.com

*Phil lost his fight with CRF on March 8, 1997.


What a great web site. I have been giving sub-Q fluids to my 16-year old cat, Polly, daily for the past 4 years, and I've always wondered if there were many other cat lovers like me out there. Your web site shows that Polly and I are not alone, plus you provided some really good information about the CRF and its treatment. I've been really lucky--Polly's responded well to the fluids and kidney diet. She's also extremely cooperative about getting fluids--she sits quietly without me having to restrain her and usually purrs for the 5 minutes or so that it takes to give her 100 ml. I give the fluids at the same time every night, and Polly's usually waiting in the bathroom when I'm ready to start. I think she looks at fluid time as a way to get my undivided attention, a good brushing (which she loves), and a whole lot of sweet talk.

Thanks again for your efforts at creating and maintaining this site. It's one of the best ones I've encountered.

Kathy


I have been reading the website over and over since October and have been happy with the occasional updates.

I was wondering...my cat Squirt* is getting skinny now. Do you feed Avatar chicken? If so, how many times a week? Does this help? My cat Squirt jumps back from being skinny. However, I tear the chicken into the finest pieces I can. Any other hints would be appreciated. Is tuna forbidden? As you know, the renal diets don't have much protein so the cat's body takes protein from the muscle mass and that is the muscle wasting we see (at least in Squirt). An occasional feeding of protein, preferably chicken, seems to be fine and a way to bring back the cat to its normal weight. Please pass this along.

My doctor said that if I gave my cat a boiled egg that it would be even better. Have you heard anything about this?

Anyway, thanks for this website. You have no idea how much this has helped me since October. This is definitely a challenging thing. However, I love my cat Squirt. I believe I will have to let her go soon; however, just wanted to let you know how much both you and your husband and Avatar have been a help to me.

May God Bless you all,
David & Squirt

*Squirt lost her fight with CRF on September 8, 1997.


Thank you very much for your wonderful web site. It contains a wealth of information which gave me confidence in what my vet was telling me. I decided to write because none of the feedback contained the unique experience I have had with my cat, Patches, and I thought others may be able to benefit from my experience and/or provide additional feedback which may be helpful.

I've owned Patches for eight years, since she was three. She was given to me by a guy at work who wanted to get a dog and didn't want his cat anymore. It was perfect for me because I wanted a companion for my rambunctious long hair, Tiger. She had all of her shots and was already declawed, which spared me considerable expense. Plus, I found she had the personality traits Tiger lacked, like being a lap cat and liking to sleep in the bed with me. We have had a very close relationship.

We knew it was necessary for Patches to see a vet on March 21st, 1997. She exhibited several symptoms. She had not been eating much for about two weeks and she started urinating frequently and drinking lots of water. The next day, she was just laying in one place and looked like she was dying. I took her to the vet right away.

The vet told me she had at least one of four ailments, the most likely was kidney disease and the second most likely was hyperthyroidism. Her symptoms were an inability to hold her head up (due to low potassium), dehydration even though her bladder was full and extreme weight loss (5.5 lbs down from 10.5 lbs). I decided to proceed with a diagnosis, so blood was taken and a urinalysis was done. Her BUN was 102 and her creatinine was 43. The vet's suspicion she was low on potassium was also confirmed (2.9) and she showed evidence of hyperthyroidism as well.

After my initial shock, dismay and sadness, my husband and I decided to go ahead with hospitalization and intravenous fluids to try and see if her kidneys would respond. While in the hospital, a urine culture was performed to check for an infection, which came back positive. My vet told me bacterial infections are very rare in cats and we speculate the kidney failure was caused by the infection She was immediately treated with antibiotics. She was not initially treated for hyperthyroidism, as the additional expense did not seem warranted since we did not know how she was responding to the kidney treatment. While in the hospital, unfortunately, she stopped eating altogether and needed to be force-fed using a syringe.

Fortunately, she had a very good response to the fluid therapy, which warranted continued treatment with fluids and force-feeding at home. Her BUN came down to 44, which was still high, but far better. Her creatinine became 0.8 which was low. Her potassium went down further, but since then we have brought it into the normal range with dietary supplements.

However, two complications arose, one of which was a temporary set-back and another which represents her current condition. During a follow-up visit with the vet, he noticed she had extreme difficulty breathing and her heart was racing. The situation appeared very grave. To balance the costs involved with proceeding toward a firm diagnosis and trying to keep her comfortable, I decided to take a chance and treat her for the hyperthyroidism, which was one of several possible causes for the breathing/heart problem. The alternative was chest X-rays and an EKG at considerable expense, with no real hope anything could be done.

We were in luck. Apparently treating the hyperthyroidism with medication solved her breathing problem. We also brought her heart rate down with a heart medication. It was a relief to be past one hurdle. She started feeling much better, becoming more active, alert and more like her original self.

At that time, our next biggest problem was that she was not eating, which required force-feeding four times a day. This has been a tremendous burden on me. At first, I was taking two hour lunches to give her a feeding (I live 30 min. from work). Then, I decided to get up in the middle of the night.

After her breathing/heart problem was solved, we increased her feeding to about 3/4 can of Hill's K/D per day. I found I could feed her the K/D by first pureeing it in a food processor and then forcing it through a strainer. It was a much better diet for her than the syringe-ready A/D food which caused runny diarrhea. Her stools are still soft, but much better than before. The increased feeding and continued fluid therapy (now at 75cc's per day) has helped bring her weight back to 6 lbs 11 oz.

I wish this was the end of her story and I could tell you things are going fine. Unfortunately, the other complication I mentioned is that she is now losing her tongue, which certainly impacts her desire and ability to eat on her own. We had noticed part of her tongue was flipped on top of itself on April 9th, but assumed it was due to the force feeding. After reading your site about checking for mouth ulcers, I decided to take a closer look. I flipped it over and found some major discoloration. She had also started growling during her feedings and I noticed drooling the day before. She was obviously in a lot of pain. April 14th, I took her to the vet and he explained the problem was due to an increased urea level. it appeared to him part of her tongue would simply fall off in a few weeks and the remainder should be fine, but cautioned me that the problem should not go onto the portion of her tongue having the taste buds. Unfortunately, today (April 16th), the problem now covers about 1/2 of her tongue and we are looking at a surgical situation. Her blood work is being done at this time, and we will decide how to proceed tomorrow.

I have already considered and dismissed euthanasia as a solution to her problem. Although it would spare considerable expense, I cannot cause her death. I feel as long as I am able to care for her and can afford the vet bills, I would like to keep her comfortable and let nature take its course. In other words, I will not let her die of starvation, which now may require surgically inserting a feeding tube in her stomach due to her tongue loss, or dehydration, which are preventable. At the same time, I'm trying to balance the costs of the different treatment options vs. the level of comfort she can get by with. I know many people would not agree with this approach, but I feel this is a very personal decision that each person must make based on his/her own situation and relationship with their cat.

I hope someone will find this information useful and if anyone has experienced a tongue problem before and can provide some information, it would be very helpful. I can be reached at: patches@catlover.com

Thank you for listening,
Kathy


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