Tanya, Thomas and Ollie were three of our cats, who all
Although they did all eventually die of the disease,
their experiences and quality of life throughout the illness were very
Tanya was a Blue Persian who came to live with us at
the age of ten weeks. She was a happy cat who enjoyed good health,
although she was rather small (she averaged around 6lbs for most of her
life) and quite timid. Her only real health problem was the occasional tooth abscess which
required removal of the offending tooth - she had three of these over the
When she was twelve years old, Tanya went for her annual vaccinations and
check-up. Earlier that year her coat, previously beautiful and glossy, had
become dry and was showing signs of dandruff which the vet had ascribed to
her advancing years. During this visit the vet thought she might have the first signs of CKD but
said there was nothing that could be done at that stage - she
could manage another five weeks or five years. We were very upset but
Tanya seemed stable and we naturally were hoping that she would manage
month later, at
the end of October, Tanya and I returned to the vet because she had
lost more weight and her spine was very prominent and bony. This time we
saw a different vet and blood tests were run and the vet told me Tanya had CKD. She felt Tanya had
less than a year to live - I was heartbroken. We were given steroids and
antibiotics and prescription food as treatment.
Tanya went downhill fast. She
soon lost her appetite and lost a lot of weight. She had very bad mouth
ulcers and muscle weakness; there were also signs of a heart murmur. We
syringe fed her on particularly bad days. She was obsessed with drinking
water, preferably from a sink. Unfortunately, we were not really
giving her any treatments. The only thing we did was to offer her
prescription food, which she would not eat. We did not know other
treatments were possible. I was not online at the time but I called
breed rescue centres, holistic pharmacies, anyone I could think of, but
treatments in the UK were in their infancy and nobody was able to
suggest anything else. I don't know if treatments would have prolonged
her life, but they certainly could have made her more comfortable.
Tanya rallied and made it through Christmas (when she enjoyed her Christmas turkey) and
the New Year; by this time she was receiving steroid injections from the
vet every other day. On 10 January, we realised Tanya was suddenly
unable to urinate; her kidneys had completely seized up. The vet kindly
came to our home and put Tanya to sleep. Tanya was buried in the garden
she loved so much; she only weighed 3lbs when she died, having lost half
of her bodyweight. We were completely
a black domestic shorthaired cat, was the local stray, who was already
in the neighbourhood when we arrived. Tanya would not allow Thomas in
her garden and he used to run away from us if we tried to get near him,
but our next-door neighbour used to feed him every day. She told us he
was feral and that she could not get near him either.
later our neighbour told us she was moving into sheltered housing and
could not take Thomas with her. We decided to try and trap Thomas and
tame him if possible so that he could have a proper home. It took more
than a week (he was very wily!) and during the attempts I noticed that
Thomas had an overpowering aroma.
Thomas and took him to the vet where they discovered that the smell was
coming from severely abscessed teeth; he had three removed. Apart from
that, he was basically healthy - his kidney values were very slightly
elevated but my vet ascribed that to the stress of being trapped and his
dental problems, and they reverted to normal later on.
discovered that Thomas was not feral, our vet determined that he was
already neutered and had had dental work performed in the past. Thomas
loved living with us and settled in well. In November, however, he had
an accident which required surgery, and during the pre-surgery blood
work my vet discovered that Thomas's kidney values were sky high. She
recommended a special prescription diet and regular steroid injections
every three-four weeks.
his first steroid jab in early December. He refused point blank to eat
the prescription food but he acted perfectly normally, showing no signs
of illness whatsoever, until the weekend of 18/19 December.
Saturday, Thomas went off his food a little, though he did eat some fish
in the evening. On the Sunday he refused to eat and by the evening he
was also refusing to drink; he sat hunched up and his breath had a
distinctive and unpleasant aroma. Basically, he had
so we should have taken him in over the weekend as an emergency, but I
didn't know then that a crash was an emergency.
We went to
the vet as soon as the clinic opened on Monday. Thomas was severely
dehydrated and my vet put him on intravenous (IV) fluids – a drip in the
hospital. She tested his blood and the numbers were incredibly high (his
urea was 86 - US: BUN 241); he was also severely anaemic (his PCV was
18%, but since he was dehydrated, it was probably much lower than that
in reality because dehydration makes PCV or HCT look higher than it
really is). She felt he would die if he couldn't be persuaded to eat;
and even if he ate it would be touch and go - she feared that once he
was off IV he would crash again.
We were not
online when Tanya was ill but by this time we were, so I went home and
searched on the internet and found some online support. The people there
recommended subcutaneous fluids once Thomas was home from the vet's. I
spoke to my vet who was initially rather sceptical about the idea but
eventually she agreed to teach me how to do them for home use.
Thomas had IV
treatment for four solid days and nights, yet sadly his numbers did not
fall; his urea was still 86 (US: BUN 241). However, he had at least
begun to eat a little, so he came home on Christmas Eve, and he ate well
and seemed reasonably healthy. Unfortunately I got the 'flu over the New
Year and was unable to give him any fluids, with the result that he
crashed again and was put on IV once more on 6 January, this time for
came home, his anaemia was really severe and he was very weak, and he
would only eat ham. We persevered with some of the treatments we learnt
about, including daily sub-Qs and regular
ESA treatments; and by mid February he was doing really well. His blood work
results improved, so he was now considered to be a "medium numbers
kitty" (his creatinine level was 3.47). Thanks to Eprex, his anaemia was
completely under control. He ate well, groomed himself, went out for
walks and to look at him you would not have known he was terminally ill.
well for several months. At the end of July, we took him to the vet for
a routine check up. We were shocked to discover that his creatinine
level was now 650 (US: 7.3) – he was exhibiting no signs of illness at
all. His anaemia had not returned but his phosphorus levels were too
suddenly crashed on 10 August and we made the painful decision to let
him go on 11 August, when it was apparent that this time he could not
fight back; like Tanya, he was unable to urinate. The vet came to our
home and helped him cross - it was very peaceful. He had been acting
like a healthy cat right up until 10 August, even going out for a long
walk on 9 August and returning to eat a large dinner (Thomas's appetite
was always pretty good apart from when his anaemia was severe). Although
it was a shock for us, I am glad for Thomas's sake that he was able to
enjoy life right up until the end and that his last day was spent
looking out at the garden he loved.
miss Thomas terribly, there is no guilt. We know we did our best for
him, and he and we greatly enjoyed the eight months together we thought
he would not live to see. If I had known he would leave when he did (it
seemed so unlikely when I was creating the site), I would not have named
this site solely in Tanya's honour - Thomas taught me so much about life
and love, and about strength and not giving up. My vet said he was the
bravest cat she had ever known. Thomas also enabled me to learn all I
know about CKD, and this site is as much a tribute to him as it is to
five months after his crash (he did have ears really, but my camera was
pictures of Thomas were taken about one week before he died. I think
they show how well a cat receiving treatments can look and feel, even
towards the end.
Ollie was a cream Persian, like our first male cat,
family member was so smitten with Harpsie that he went to the shelter to
adopt a cream Persian and ended up with two, Ollie and his mother, Cleo.
Ollie was treated successfully for mammary cancer in 2006 and made a good
recovery, but 2007 was full of changes. Firstly, his mother, Cleo, died of cancer,
and Ollie had to get used to being an
only cat for the first time in his life. Then his human moved to be with
his fiancée, so Ollie also had to move to a new home and get used
to three new humans, including two children. The children loved Ollie, but
he had never lived with children before. And the fiancée didn't like Ollie
In January 2008, Ollie's right eye had to be removed. He had suffered from
herpes for many years, and the eye just erupted. Ollie was fifteen years
old and very anaemic, but he made it through the surgery, and adapted to
living with one eye.
Unfortunately, in March 2008 Ollie's human split up with his fiancée. He
had nowhere to live, and nor did Ollie. We offered to take Ollie in when
we returned from the USA. In the meantime, Ollie went to live for three
months at the cattery we use when we go on holiday.
we returned from the USA, Ollie came to live with us, in late June 2008,
one week before his sixteenth birthday. The first time I saw him (left), he
was all blond and cute and fluffy. And then I picked him up. He was so
thin that I could put my (small) hands around his waist and they
overlapped! I could feel his spine, yet he ate like a horse. He was also
urinating and drinking a lot. I knew immediately that he must have a
medical problem. I booked an appointment with my vet for the next day.
That evening it became apparent that Ollie had additional problems in the
form of being very wobbly, vomiting, diarrhoea and pooping outside the
litter box. The latter was the main reason the fiancée hadn't liked
Ollie. Ollie was installed in our guest bedroom with puppy pads and
Catpaper all over the bed and carpet for easy clean ups. He seemed like a
very laidback kind of little guy, but then blond Persian boys do seem to
be like that.
Tests at the vet's the next day showed that Ollie weighed 5.3 lbs when in
the vet's opinion he should have weighed at least 8.5, and 9 lbs would
probably be his ideal weight. He had a heart murmur at level 4. He also
had CKD. His BUN was 80, his creatinine 2.81, his phosphorus 8.04 and his
potassium 3.5. He was also anaemic, with PCV at 23%. Tests for an
overactive thyroid were sent to the lab.
biggest obvious problem was his weak back legs. He couldn't walk properly,
he twitched a lot, and while the vet was on the phone to me, poor Ollie fell off
the window ledge. I asked the vet if we could start him on a potassium
supplement. She didn't think it was necessary because his level was
exactly at the bottom of the range for the lab she used but she agreed to
let me give him one. After two days of the potassium supplement, Ollie could walk
normally again! Ollie was also given a phosphorus binder, B vitamins and
iron and a prescription diet which he actually seemed to enjoy.
Surprisingly, Ollie's T4 (thyroid function test) came back as normal. Yet
he had so many signs of hyperthyroidism that I found this hard to believe.
So we did a Free T4 test, which showed that in fact, Ollie was indeed
hyperthyroid. We started him on medication for that too.
five weeks of treatment Ollie had largely stopped vomiting and having
diarrhoea and had gained 0.8 lbs. He was eating well and seemed happy - he
was a very placid, sweet-natured, cute little guy who loved his cuddles.
He got on pretty well with his new sisters, Indie and Karma.
Ollie continued to gain weight and enjoyed the summer. Eventually he got
up to 6.8 lbs, a great improvement on the 5.3 lbs he had weighed when he
first came to live with us. He developed high blood pressure but we were
able to control this with medication.
Unfortunately we struggled to control Ollie's anaemia. His HCT would go up
a little, then fall back down again. We discovered that his HCT had
actually been extremely low, only 18%, in October 2007, but his vets at
that time hadn't even mentioned it to his human! So his anaemia was
chronic, yet we struggled to find the cause. My vet suspected cancer, but
Ollie was still too frail for invasive tests.
Towards the end of October 2008 Ollie went to the vet to check his blood
pressure and anaemia. His blood pressure was normal, but his anaemia had
worsened once again, from 23% to 18%. I asked the vet to trim Ollie's
claws since they were catching on things. Ollie collapsed! He had to be
placed in the oxygen tent to recover. The vet said he simply couldn't pump
enough oxygen around his body to cope with the stress he was under
because of the anaemia and heart issues. She said he was balanced on a knife edge.
came home and seemed to be none the worse for his collapse. The photo to
the right was taken on 4 November 2008 when he seemed fine (Ollie is on
the right, Indie is on the left). A couple of
days later, however, he seemed subdued, was grinding his teeth and was not
eating much, so the following day we went to the vet's. Ollie's HCT was
back up to 24%, which was encouraging. However, we found blood in his urine
so he had to go on an antibiotic.
Ollie seemed to improve somewhat on the antibiotic, though there continued
to be obvious blood in his urine. I was concerned about him and made an
appointment with the vet for 13 November. Sadly, on the evening of 12
November, Ollie suddenly collapsed. He was struggling to breathe and spent
the night in the oxygen tent. Tests on 13 November showed that Ollie's
poor little body was shutting down. He was in heart failure and his kidney
values had suddenly worsened dramatically, whilst his HCT continued to
fall throughout the day. His blood pressure kept falling. The vet said we
could try to help if it was his heart or his kidneys, but trying to treat
both conditions when Ollie was so frail would simply not work. The vet
helped Ollie to cross that evening, with us and his original human
present. He was gone within five seconds, so he clearly had given his all
and had no reserves left.
I still feel a bit cheated with Ollie. If only his original vets had
treated his anaemia and other health issues back in 2007. If only he had
never got so thin with the undiagnosed hyperactive thyroid, which needed
additional tests for accurate diagnosis. If only we had returned earlier
from the USA
so he could have come to live with us sooner. But we did the best we
could in the circumstances, and I think he felt safe and happy and loved
with us. I miss my cute little guy.