Casper had kidney failure
I maintained my cat, Casper for two years after he was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2007. A serious kidney infection that almost took his life there and then resulted in one kidney damaged so bad that it shrank to half size. The other kidney was also compromised, just not as bad. Casper was given less than six months but I worked with him day in and day out and managed to nurse him through two years. Fluid build-up around his lungs and heart finally forced me to put him down but he enjoyed a reasonable quality of life up to then.
So, you have time yet!
From my experience, this is what you need to do and watch for:
1. Don't worry about holistic food. Just start your cat on the special reduced protein food your vet has recommended. The protein must come down because it will damage the kidneys even more and negate any benefit that you might have hoped for from the holistic food.
2. Get your vet to prescribe Epikitin. This is a natural supplement that you sprinkle over the cat's food. The cat won't mind it at all. What Epikitin does for the cat is bind up the excess phosphate so that it passes with the urine. It works really well! Those high counts will drop in about four to six weeks.
3. Check your cat's gums regularly. The gums should be nice and pink. If they go pale or creamy coloured then the cat probably has anaemia. It will happen because, and I didn't know this before, red blood cell production in bone marrow is regulated by the kidneys! As the kidneys weaken, anaemia becomes a problem.
4. Your cat is sixteen so I assume it sleeps a lot, even for a cat! None-the-less, watch for lethargy. It is another sign of anaemia for one thing but, it can also indicate other problems settling in. You cat's immune system may be compromised because of the kidney issue so, you must remain vigilant.
5. If your cat does become anaemic, it will have trouble keeping warm. I bought a heating blanket for the bed and left it on a medium-low setting all day long. When Casper felt cold which was pretty much always, he curled up on the bed in his own favourite blanket and the heating blanket warmed him up from below! It was the best money I spent in the whole affair.
6. Encourage lots of water intake. Put bowls of water everywhere! Leave water in cups. Buy one of those water fountains. The ones with falling water are best as the water tinkling sound will put drinking into the cats head! Another trick is to buy a Beta fish and put it in a fish bowl with an openning just big enough for the cat to poke his head through. Casper loved drinking the water from the fish bowl! (See the attachment)
7. Eventually, you will have to supplement your cat's fluid intake. The vet will show you how to administer subcutaneous injections of Ringers or Saline under the scruff on the cat's back. I did this every couple of days towards the end. Casper would look like a little camel with a big hump full of Ringers on his back! Also, my apartment looked like a little hospital ward with the bag of Ringers Lactate hanging from the chandelier! It was great conversation piece.
8. Much later I was introduced to a syringe that was designed for the purpose of hand-watering small animals. It looked like a regular syringe, about 100cc I think but, instead of a needle it had a tapered curved end moulded into the plastic body of the syringe. You could put the curved end into the cat's mouth even if the mouth was closed. You just wiggle the tapered end in between the moistened lips and once in, you slowly squirt the water into cat's mouth. They swallow it! It takes a bit of practice as you have to learn to allow the cat time to breathe, smack its lips and so forth. Ask the vet about this thing! It will reduce the need for poking your cat in back with a big needle. You'll both be happier.
9. If the kidney disease progresses, be prepared for what will come. Your cat will slowly waste away. No amount of love or encouragement will stop this but you sure can slow it down! So, be prepared for a long, slow, progressive weight loss.
10. Blood work will become something of a routine that your cat will come to hate, vehemently!
11. I spent a lot of time snuggling with Casper, especially in the final six months. He liked to snuggle because it kept him warm and he seemed to be at ease when we sat together. Find a good snuggle chair and spend time watching TV or reading with your cat. It is very rewarding.