TANYA'S

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO

FELINE CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE

 

 

 

   

MY THREE CKD CATS: TANYA, THOMAS AND OLLIE

 

"And I'm going out of my mind with a pain that stops and starts,

like a corkscrew to my heart, ever since we've been apart."

 

Bob Dylan

 

ON THIS PAGE:


Tanya's Story


Thomas's Story


Ollie's Story


 

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Tanya's CKD Support Group Today

 

HOME


Site Overview


What You Need to Know First


Alphabetical Index


Glossary


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WHAT IS CKD?


What Happens in CKD


Causes of CKD


How Bad is It?


Is There Any Hope?


Acute Kidney Injury


 

KEY ISSUES


Nausea, Vomiting, Appetite Loss and Excess Stomach Acid


Maintaining Hydration


The Importance of Phosphorus Control


All About Hypertension


All About Anaemia


All About Constipation


Potassium Imbalances


Metabolic Acidosis


Kidney Stones


 

SUPPORT


Coping with CKD


Tanya's Support Group


Success Stories


 

SYMPTOMS


Alphabetical List of Symptoms and Treatments


Fluid and Urinary  Imbalances (Dehydration, Overhydration and Urinary Issues)


Waste Product Regulation Imbalances (Vomiting, Appetite Loss, Excess Stomach Acid, Gastro-intestinal Problems, Mouth Ulcers Etc.)


Phosphorus and Calcium Imbalances


Miscellaneous Symptoms (Pain, Hiding Etc.)


 

DIAGNOSIS: WHAT DO ALL THE TEST RESULTS MEAN?


Blood Chemistry: Kidney Function, Potassium, Other Tests (ALT, Amylase, (Cholesterol, Etc.)


Calcium, Phosphorus, Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) and Secondary Hyperparathyroidism


Complete Blood Count (CBC): Red and White Blood Cells: Anaemia and Infection


Urinalysis (Urine Tests)


Other Tests: Ultrasound, Biopsy, X-rays etc.


Renomegaly (Enlarged Kidneys)


Which Tests to Have and Frequency of Testing


Factors that Affect Test Results


Normal Ranges


International and US Measuring Systems


 

TREATMENTS


Which Treatments are Essential


Fluid and Urinary Issues (Fluid Retention, Infections, Incontinence, Proteinuria)


Waste Product Regulation (Mouth Ulcers, GI Bleeding, Antioxidants, Adsorbents, Azodyl, Astro's CRF Oil)


Phosphorus, Calcium and Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (Calcitriol)


Miscellaneous Treatments: Stem Cell Transplants, ACE Inhibitors - Fortekor, Steroids, Kidney Transplants)


Antibiotics and Painkillers


Holistic Treatments (Including Slippery Elm Bark)


ESAs (Aranesp, Epogen etc.) for Severe Anaemia


General Health Issues in a CKD Cat: Fleas, Arthritis, Dementia, Vaccinations


Tips on Medicating Your Cat


Obtaining Supplies Cheaply in the UK, USA and Canada


Working with Your Vet and Recordkeeping


 

DIET & NUTRITION


Nutritional Requirements of CKD Cats


The B Vitamins (Including Methylcobalamin)


What to Feed (and What to Avoid)


Persuading Your Cat to Eat


Food Data Tables


USA Canned Food Data


USA Dry Food Data


USA Cat Food Manufacturers


UK Canned Food Data


UK Dry Food Data


UK Cat Food Manufacturers


2007 Food Recall USA


 

FLUID THERAPY


Intravenous Fluids


Subcutaneous Fluids


Tips on Giving Subcutaneous Fluids


How to Give Subcutaneous Fluids with a Giving Set


How to Give Subcutaneous Fluids with a Syringe


Subcutaneous Fluids - Winning Your Vet's Support


Dialysis


 

RELATED DISEASES


Heart Problems


Hyperthyroidism


Diabetes


Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)


Pancreatitis


Dental Problems


Anaesthesia


 

OBTAINING SUPPLIES CHEAPLY


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SAYING GOODBYE


The Final Hours


Other People's Losses


Coping with Your Loss


 

MISCELLANEOUS


Early Detection


Prevention


Research


Canine Kidney Disease


Other Illnesses (Cancer, Liver) and Behavioural Problems


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SITEOWNER (HELEN)


My Three CKD Cats: Tanya, Thomas and Ollie


My Multi Ailment Cat, Harpsie


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Home > Siteowner > My Three CKD Cats: Tanya, Thomas and Ollie

 


Overview


  • Tanya, Thomas and Ollie were three of our cats, who all developed CKD.

  • Although they did all eventually die of the disease, their experiences and quality of life throughout the illness were very different.


Tanya's Story


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 years.

 

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 five years.  

 

A 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 heartbroken.

 


Thomas's Story


 

Thomas, 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.  

 

Five years 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. 

We caught 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. 

 

We soon 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. 

 

Thomas had 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. 

 

On the 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 crashed, 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 three days.

 

After Thomas 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.

 

Thomas did 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 high.

 

Thomas 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.

 

Although we 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 Tanya.

 

Here's Thomas five months after his crash (he did have ears really, but my camera was broken).

 

 

These 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's Story


 

Ollie was a cream Persian, like our first male cat, Harpsie. A 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 much. 

 

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.

 

When 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.

 

Ollie's 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.

 

After 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.

 

Ollie 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. 

 

 

 

*****

 

"'Cause I miss you, body and soul, so strong

That it takes my breath away.

And I breathe you into my heart

And pray for the strength to stand today.

'Cause I love you, whether it's wrong or right,

And though I can't be with you tonight,

You know my heart is by your side."

 

Daniel Bedingfield

 

 

 

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This page last updated: 18 April 2012