Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Opt to Adopt: Phantom


Cat Care Society, Lakewood, CO

Photo taken from Phantom's Adopt a Pet profile page.

Phantom is a handsome tuxedo cat with short hair.  He is outgoing and likes to play.  He's friendly, affectionate, and likes being pet.  I've spent a lot of time with Phantom over the past few months, and he always seems to enjoy our visits a lot.  

Phantom came to the shelter when his human got sick and had to give him up.  He is 11 years old, but he acts much younger.  Since Phantom is a senior kitty, he is part of the Perpet-U-Care program, which will pay for a portion of his veterinary care for the rest of his life.  

You can find Phantom in the Gold Room at Cat Care Society, located at 5787 W. 6th Avenue in Lakewood, CO.  Let's help this adorable and sweet mancat find his forever home!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jewel's Journey Through CRF

While I'm not ready to talk about Jewel's final days, I want to share our journey through Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) with all of you in hopes that our experience will help someone else.  Remember: always check with your veterinarian before adding anything to your kitty's treatment regimen - prescription or holistic.  Every cat's situation is unique; just because something did or didn't work for Jewel doesn't mean your cat will react in the same way.

Warming Signs and Diagnosis

As many of you know, I was once roommates with Jewel's former owner, but it wasn't a good situation, so I moved out.  A month or so before I moved out, I noticed that Jewel was drinking even more than she usually had.  I planned to take her to my vet as soon as I could because her former owner didn't think this change warranted a vet visit.  

After I moved away from the house, it was two months before Jewel's former owner brought her to see me.  When I saw her, my heart broke.  She had lost 3 or 4 pounds in that short time span.  Jewel went to see my vet shortly after that visit.  The vet took a blood and urine sample from Jewel and called me with the results the next day.  Jewel had CRF.  I was rather upset when I heard the news and began to research the disease and how best to help her.  Jewel received her diagnosis in November, 2011.

Kidney Diets

Since Jewel's phosphorus levels were high, we immediately started her on Epakitin, a powder phosphorus binder you can mix into wet food.  Epakitin worked well for Jewel.  Her phosphorus levels normalized, and she didn't mind eating the powder in her wet food.

The vet also recommended we start her on Hill's Prescription k/d wet and dry food.  While Jewel didn't mind eating her k/d kibbles, she wanted nothing to do with the wet food.  

I did a little research and discovered Royal Canin also has a prescription kidney diet.  Unfortunately, she didn't want anything to do with the Royal Canin LP either.  

I had joined a CRF support group and asked if there were any other kidney diets she could try.  I learned about Purina NF, and tracked some down at a hospital close to her former owner's home.  Sadly, Jewel didn't like Purina NF, either.  

She was eating very little at this point so we started feeding her anything she would eat.  The vet confirmed that this was the right thing to do; we didn't want her to starve to death trying to get her to eat a kidney diet. 

High Blood Pressure's Sneak Attack

High blood pressure often co-occurs with CRF.  Our vet discovered pretty early on that Jewel's blood pressure was slightly elevated.  We started her on Benazepril to help control it.  It was at this point that Jewel's former owner and I decided that it would be best for her to stay with me full-time due to the fact that her former owner had a lot of other people, children, and a kitten living in his home.  We thought the stress was too much for Jewel to handle.  Later on, of course, I adopted her as my own kitty.  

Earlier this year, Jewel's blood pressure became out of control.  Her blood pressure was so high that her retinas were 50% detached.  We changed Jewel's medication to Amlodipine, beginning with one-half tablet once a day.  We had to raise Jewel's Amlodipine dose a few times before we found a dose that was able to control her blood pressure.  Thankfully, her retinas did reattach.  

Coping With Nausea and Stomach Acid

Shortly after being diagnosed with CRF, Jewel didn't have much interest in eating.  While part of this was due to the fact that she didn't like the kidney diets, nausea also played a part.  Our vet recommended giving Jewel 1/4 of a 10mg Pepcid to help her nausea.  This did, in fact, help, and she began to eat more.  However, Jewel didn't get the Pepcid daily because I wasn't able to pill her alone.  Jewel was always VERY stubborn about taking her medication.  

When I talked with the vet about the situation, she recommended we try Reglan for Jewel, which can be compounded into a liquid that I could squirt into her mouth.  Compounding medication can be expensive ($40 for a one-month supply of Reglan) though, so I did a little research and discovered a natural nausea remedy for kitties with CRF - slippery elm bark.  When I wasn't able to afford Jewel's compounded Reglan, I used the slippery elm bark to help her.  The drawback of this remedy is that you cannot give any other medications within two hours of slippery elm bark because it interferes with the effects of medication.  On the plus side, it wasn't difficult at all to get Jewel to eat her slippery elm bark mixed into a little bit of a Fancy Feast appetizer.  

Increasing Appetite

As the disease progresses, kitties with CRF lose their appetites.  Jewel would go for days or even weeks without wanting to eat much, but we found ways to encourage her to eat more.  A few times, I got her Hi'll's Prescription a/d, a canned food that's high in calories and can be syringe fed if necessary.  I didn't use this very often, though, because it really seemed to increase her stomach acid and nausea.  

Most of the time, I would go to the store and pick out a lot of different kinds of food in different flavors to see what Jewel would and wouldn't eat.  I discovered one of her favorites was Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp Feast, so I always made sure to have at least one of those in the house for the times she turned her nose up at other foods.  

My vet also prescribed Mirtazapine to increase Jewel's appetite when she didn't feel like eating.  This medication really helped when Jewel wouldn't even eat her favorite foods, but after about a year of using the medication as needed, it stopped working for her.  We switched to Cyproheptadine to increase her appetite.  

Fluid Therapy

Fluid therapy helps the kidneys filter toxins out of the body.  I was really nervous at the idea of sticking Jewel with a needle to administer the subcutaneous fluids, and I was doubtful that I could do this effectively given my severe vision impairment.  The first time I stuck her by myself at home, I was a nervous wreck!  

Over time, though, Jewel and I both became more comfortable with this treatment.  Whereas initially, Jewel would try to run away from me during treatment, she soon began to lay down and patiently wait during treatment time.  She always received treats after fluids time, which I know she looked forward to.  Jewel LOVED treats!  


It might sound cliche, but I think what helped Jewel, perhaps more than medication, was being loved.  Jewel had a difficult life, and due to her past, it took her a long time to trust me.  The love my friend, D, and I gave her gave Jewel something to keep fighting for.  Jewel turned from a cranky senior into a little love bug within months of me taking over her care.  She seemed to really begain to enjoy her life, despite all the pilling and poking we had to do to keep her stable.  

CRF Is A Roller Coaster

CRF is truly an emotional roller coaster.  One day, you're thrilled that your kitty seems happy, wants to eat, and seeks out your attention.  The next day, you're worried because she turns her nose up at her favorite food, and she's hiding under your dresser.  

To be completely honest, shortly after Jewel was diagnosed with CRF, I tried to distance myself from her emotionally so I wouldn't have to be hurt when she went to the Rainbow Bridge.  That didn't work.  Jewel wove herself into every fiber of my heart.  Yes, it hurt more than I ever could have imagined when she went to the Bridge, but I don't regret a second of our time together.  I don't regret opening my heart to her and loving her more than I can ever say.  It still hurts me; every single day I have to spend without her is painful.  I don't think that will ever change.  But I know that I will see her again, and I know that she is still around, even if I can't see her or touch her or hear her anymore.  

The love I have for my beautiful Jewel will never go away.  Even though I only knew her for four short years, she changed my life.  I love and miss my baby.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Milita's Infection Is Back

Hi everyone, it's the Mom here.  If you didn't see this on Facebook, Milita's mouth infection came back within a couple of days of her being off the antibiotic (which makes me wonder if it ever went away in the first place).  We picked up more antibiotics for her on Thursday, and she's been on the Amoxicillin since then.

I'm worried about her having surgery on Wednesday, though, because her breathing sounds a bit funny.  I've heard her wheezing, especially when I pick her up for a hug.

I trust our vet, but I cannot not worry about Milita; she is my baby!  I know the vet will give her an exam and draw blood before the surgery starts, but I'm really wondering if we should postpone it until she can get a little better.  I'm going to call on Tuesday when they open and see what she'd like us to do.

Please send purrs and prayers for Milita.  She really needs this surgery as soon as she can have it, but she needs to be healthy enough to have it, too.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Caturday Art: Gabe

I went to visit Cat Care Society yesterday, and I got to see some of the kittens!

This handsome kitten is Gabe.  He's four months old and lives in the Kitten Room.  He's available for adoption!  

I mad this using PicMonkey.  I decorated Gave's photo some and put his photo in a pink heart cut-out.  I noticed you can do a lot of things with PicMonkey, so I'll definitely be playing with it more as time goes on.  This was a lot of fun!

I am participating the Caturday Art blog hop today.  You can view more Caturday art HERE.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Medical Emergency (FLUTD): Caring for Critters

Many of you know that Carmine is a special needs kitty with several chronic health conditions.  Today, we are participating in the Caring for Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like A Dog.  Throughout this round robin, pet owners have been sharing their experiences of injury, illness, and other health concerns.

A Medical Emergency

On April 12, 2009, I was getting ready to go to a friend's home to enjoy Easter dinner.  While I was getting ready, I noticed Carmine go into his litter box.  I didn't think anything of it, of course.

However, over the course of the next 15 to 20 minutes, I kept hearing Carmine get in and out of the litter box, so I decided it was time to go investigate what he was doing.  I watched as he got into his litter box, squatted, and noting came out.  He got out of his box again, walked around for a minute, and then got back into the box again.  He squatted again, and nothing came out.  I watched him do this a few more times and became very worried about him.  I knew this was a very bad situation.

When my friend showed up a few minutes later, I told her what Carmine had been doing.  I called the emergency vet and let them know that Carmine couldn't urinate.  The only question they asked me was if Carmine was a male cat.  I told them he was, and they replied that I needed to bring him in right away as this situation was a life-threatening medical emergency.

So we got Carmine into a carrier and headed off to the nearest veterinary hospital.  I was really anxious and worried about my baby.  Carmine was 4 years old at the time, and I was afraid I was going to lose him that day.

After what seemed like an eternity, the vet came out to the waiting room and told me that Carmine's bladder was inflamed, but he did not have a urethral obstruction.  She also let me know that he probably had a urinary tract infection.  She told me they were going to collect blood and urine from him to determine what medications to put him on.  At this point, I could breathe a little easier knowing that my kitty would probably be okay.  It's the urethral obstruction that is the most dangerous in these situations.  When a urethral obstruction occurs, the kidneys can't maintain an appropriate balance of electrolytes and fluids in the body or remove toxins from the blood.  Sadly, if the urethra isn't unblocked in time, the kitty will lose consciousness and pass away.

Diagnosis & Treatment

After about another hour, the vet came back out to talk to me again.  She said that Carmine has Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).  She told me they had found struvite (magnesium phosphate) crystals in his bladder.  The plan was to treat Carmine with the antibiotic, Clavamox, for his possible urinary tract infection and an anti-inflammatory pain killer to reduce the inflammation and pain in his urinary tract.  She told me that I'd need to see my regular vet for a long-term treatment plan.

When we got home, I immediately started researching to find out how I could best help my precious baby.  I read that many kitties with FLUTD begin urinating outside the litter box because they associate the litter box with pain, so I began praising Carmine every time he urinated in his box.

For the next two days, I watched Carmine like a hawk.  Every single time he went to the litter box, I followed him to make sure he was able to urinate.  The pain medication the emergency vet gave him made him very sleepy.  Carmine hid under my dresser much of the time for the next few days, and I checked on him often.

When our vet opened on Tuesday (our vet is only open Tuesdays through Fridays), I called them to see what the next step was.  They told me I needed to pick up some special food and more medication for Carmine.

On Wednesday, I went to the vet's office where they gave me more pain medication in case Carmine had any recurrences.  They also gave me Hill's Prescription c/d dry and canned food.  The vet tech told me that Carmine would need to eat this prescription diet for the rest of his life; the diet dissolves struvite crystals and helps prevent recurrences of FLUTD symptoms.

Carmine enjoyed his prescription c/d dry food, but he refused to eat the canned version.  In addition to his prescription dry food, Carmine has been eating canned Friskies Special Diet (for urinary tract health) and Pro Plan Urinary Tract formula for the past five years.

Approximately a year ago, Carmine developed Irritable Bowel Disease and was losing a lot of weight as a result.  Our vet and I decided to switch Carmine's prescription diet to Royal Canin SO because it is tastier for kitties, and we wanted to encourage him to eat more.  Carmine loves the prescription Royal Canin dry food, and he was even willing to eat the canned version.  However, he began getting red dots on his head, so we think he may be allergic to the canned food (we started the dry and canned foods several months apart and he had no reaction to the dry food).

Water intake is an essential part of managing FLUTD.  Unfortunately, Carmine has never been much of a drinker.  I began mixing a little extra water into his wet food daily to increase his water intake.  About a year ago, when I adopted Jewel, I bought a fountain for her to enjoy.  Carmine definitely likes drinking out of the fountain!  I wish I had bought one much sooner.

Stress can lead to recurrences of FLUTD symptoms, so I've had to work hard at keeping my home as stress-free as possible.  Carmine is a very sensitive mancat, and his connection to me is very strong.  Therefore, I have to work hard at keeping my life stress-free as well.  For approximately the past year, I've been using Sentry calming collars on Carmine, which really seem to help his stress levels, too.

Where Is He Now?

Carmine has done very well on his urinary tract diet for the past five years.  Though he has developed other chronic conditions, he has had no recurrences of FLUTD, and I'm very happy and thankful for that.  

Thank you for allowing me to share Carmine's story with you.  You can see all Caring for Critters posts on the Community Page HERE.  Please join Cascadian Nomads on Tuesday October 21st for another Caring for Critters post!