May 26th, 2012, 07:07 PM
Hi! My 18-year old cat - Zero - was diagnosed with CRF a couple of weeks ago. The diagnosis was made more on conjecture by the vet than on actual tests. Nevertheless, I've done tons of research and am totally obsessed with making sure she gets everything she needs. My biggest problem right now is trying to find a food she can eat. She also has IBD and can't eat anything with grains, guar gum, carageenan or tapioca. So far, the only food we (the 2 cats and I) can agree on is Nature's Variety Instinct, of which they will only eat the chicken and the duck. I'm worried about the level of phosphorus in this, but can't find anything to replace it with. I initially brought her to the vet because she had lost quite a bit of weight and suddenly looked "scraggly", and I've started giving her small amounts of the Nature's Variety, baby food, and/or cooked chicken every few hours. She has gained some of the weight back, but I'm afraid that continuing with this food may be making her kidneys worse. One day she'll look really good, then the next she looks like she won't last another hour. I am open to any and all ideas because my friends are tired of listening to my worries and the constant vigilance and fear are really wearing me down. Thanks so much....
May 26th, 2012, 10:57 PM
My biggest problem right now is trying to find a food she can eat. She also has IBD and can't eat anything with grains, guar gum, carageenan or tapioca.
Do you think she'd be willing to try a raw diet? Nature's Variety makes a variety of frozen raw products that are lower in phosphorus and fit the bill for her IBD. There are also other excellent commercial options, or you could make your own if you're up for the challenge.
Do you know what her blood phosphorus levels are? If they're edging up there, perhaps a phosphorus binder would be a good option, especially if she's a picky eater. I'm actually giving my old guy with CKD a couple of renal products from Italy: http://www.aventix.ca/pdfs/Candioli/RENAL%20PRODUCTS%20.pdf They're easy to mix with wet food and seem to be pretty palatable. His diet consists of about half raw and half canned. I have to admit, I don't obsess over phosphorus levels too much unless it's a crazy high amount. But his blood phosphorus is still well within normal limits.
May 27th, 2012, 04:05 PM
Thanks so much for responding! I have in the past fed my cats about 1/3 Nature's Variety raw frozen and 2/3 canned. They got accustomed to it and ate it about as well as the canned alone. I stopped because my vet told me they get cases of food poisening from pets who eat raw. That normally wouldn't have stopped me if they were all healthy, but coincidently one of my babies died (totally unrelated to food) a week later, then a few months later I noticed that Zero wasn't eating well, so I got paranoid and gave up on the raw. I have been considering it again but had no idea if the phosphorus and protein levels were any better than the canned. I'm definitely willing to try it again.
I have no idea what her phosphorus level was. At the vet they drew blood but did not get a urine sample. All she told me was that her creatinine was 2.4, but that because Zero had lost so much weight in reality is was probably much higher. She also told me that her thyroid level had really dropped to a dangerously low level, so to cut her felimazole dose in half. I truly think that the vet assumed kidney failure more than anything. I spoke to her a few days later and was told to just "enjoy the time I had left with Zero" and because she knows how vital Zero is to me, she told me to "try not to ruin my enjoyment of her by worrying obsessively". We don't even have a follow-up appointment.
Obviously I disagree completely (except that I DO worry obsessively) and refuse to sit back and do nothing just because my baby is "old"! My other cat is diabetic, and despite the prognosis, I was able to get him off insulin completely in a matter of months.
I will definitely check out that website you mentioned. I did buy Azodyl (expensive!), but I've had a hard time getting Zero to take it in a way that might be effective.
Thanks again, and I'm wide open to any other suggestions you might have!
May 27th, 2012, 04:46 PM
I stopped because my vet told me they get cases of food poisening from pets who eat raw.
Most vets tend to be completely ignorant about raw feeding, and unfortunately it would appear that this one is no exception. Wonder how many cases of "food poisoning" they get from kibble? Diamond pet food recall anyone? In any case, Nature's Variety follows some very strict production protocols and uses High Pressure Processing (http://www.naturesvariety.com/learning/raw/quality) to minimize the risk of pathogens in their food.
then a few months later I noticed that Zero wasn't eating well,
Maybe he got bored of the food? I'm a big fan of regularly rotating several brands, partly to avoid addiction, but also to keep it interesting for the cats. And it helps lessen the risk of nutritional deficiencies or excesses. Maybe there are some other commercial raw products available to you that you could try Zero on.
so I got paranoid and gave up on the raw. I have been considering it again but had no idea if the phosphorus and protein levels were any better than the canned.
The NV raw has excellent phosphorus levels compared to the canned. If you scroll down to the bottom of this chart you can see what they are in mg per 100Kcal: http://binkyspage.tripod.com/CanFoodNew.html
And here is another page showing the phosphorus levels of various foods as a dry matter percentage: http://www.felinecrf.org/canned_food_usa.htm
But again, unless Zero has high blood phosphorus levels, I wouldn't be obsessive about it. The absolute most important thing is that he maintain a good appetite.
At the vet they drew blood but did not get a urine sample.
Hmmm. A urinalysis is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. I personally don't think a diagnosis of renal insufficiency can be made without knowing what the urine specific gravity is.
All she told me was that her creatinine was 2.4,
I highly recommend asking the vet for a copy of her blood work. 2.4 is not an outrageous value (would even be considered within normal range at the lab that does my cats blood work), and besides, CKD is about more than just creatinine levels.
I did buy Azodyl (expensive!), but I've had a hard time getting Zero to take it in a way that might be effective.
I'm not a fan of Azodyl. I think the company that makes it is sleazy, and it's definitely a tough pill to administer (who thought it would be a good idea to try giving cats something that big??!!). If Zero really does have renal issues, the supplements I linked to above might be a better option for you. There are lots of other things you can try as well, such as acupuncture or aqua-puncture, vitamin B injections (helps with appetite and anemia), slippery elm bark if constipation becomes a problem, subQ fluids, etc. But I think first you need to nail down a diagnosis based on a complete work up, including a urinalysis. I don't think it's good practice for a vet to just "assume" kidney failure without anything to back it up.
May 27th, 2012, 08:10 PM
I agree about the diagnosis - that's why I feel so conflicted. As I said, I got the impression that our vet (who has always been very good to me and all my cats) made more of a conjecture than an actual diagnosis. In a way I would like to take Zero to a different vet - one who would see more than just Zero's age and my finances. But the cost is a huge roadblock. That's why with Clyde I decided to do my best to "treat" his diabetes with changes I could make myself, so hoped I could do the same with Zero. I will definitely call our vet again and take Zero in for a recheck and more bloodwork and a urinalysis. Is the "Renal" you use available only by prescription? If it is, I'd really like to bring the vet all the information about that as well. It certainly sounds more useful than Azodyl! If I feel our vet has really given up on us after the next visit, I will find a way to take Zero wherever she needs to go....