Cat Health Issues
Unfortunately, we've had experience with some very serious cat health issues and I've written about them here.
It's not easy to find much information about this disease on the web, so I'll describe my experience with Ed. This was a distressing situation for me because Ed was extremely ill and it took 6 days before the vets were able to diagnose his problem and get him on the road to recovery. I had lost Smokey to lymphatic cancer just 2 months earlier, and I was not "ready" to deal with another critically ill kitty. But we got through it, and Ed is as healthy (and pudgy) as ever.
Ed was diagnosed with chronic renal failure (CRF) in April 2006, at the age of 15. CRF is a progressive disease where the kidneys lose their ability to filter the blood of the body's waste products. It is incurable, but steps can be taken to try to slow it's progress. Here is a comprehensive CRF education page. Although it was written with consideration for a cat who is also diabetic, the information about CRF applies to any cat.
Since lab tests don't indicate renal failure until a significant amount of kidney damage has already occurred, CRF kind-of sneaks up on you. I had taken Ed to the vet on because I could tell he had lost a little weight and noticed some blood in his urine. Off and on for several months he had unexplained and unpredictable bowel irregularities. Sometimes he's have diarrhea, while other times he seemed constipated. Only eight months earlier when he was also having bowel irregularities, all his lab tests were normal and I was keeping an eye on his potty habits. But now he had a massive urinary tract infection and was diagnosed with kidney disease.
We tried giving subcutaneous fluids to Ed (a standard therapy), but even with a mild tranquilizer he would not tolerate it. Fortunately, his CRF was mild and we were able to manage it using diet and lactulose. He had another milder urinary tract infection that we successfully treated. Ed's CRF never became severe and we managed it until he died of an unrelated neurological disorder 7 months later.
We've had experience with two types of lymphoma.
Smokey was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma in July 2002 and we tried
extending her life with a multi-drug chemotherapy protocol. When she was diagnosed, her
specialist told me that this was an incurable disease and the best we
could hope for was for Smokey to live out the rest of her life in
comfort. Smokey did not have long to live, and I made the
conscious effort to make all decisions based on what was
best for her, and I would not attempt any "heroic" attempts to
save her from a fatal disease. She surprised us all by surviving
almost 12 months after her initial diagnoses. During those final
months, she was indulged with anything and everything she wanted: food,
treats, outdoor time, and lots of attention from her mom and dad.
I've written a separate page describing the
medical issues and our experience in dealing with Smokey's lymphatic
Barney was diagnosed with this serious liver cancer in June 2000. This is the most frequently reported malignant liver tumor in cats and it is an extremely aggressive and invasive cancer. Surgery can be performed to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but since it is extremely invasive, the prognosis is poor. Chemotherapy is not an option for this type of cancer. Barney underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but the cancer returned. You can read about his experience on his diabetes story page.
the most common endocrine disorder in cats, and is one of the most
common diseases of older cats. Barney's hyperthyroidism was managed using a low dose of tapazole twice daily. He already had
diabetes when the hyperthyroidism began, so the radio-iodine therapy was
not a practical option.
Barney was part of the Indulged Furry Family during his diabetes years and we successfully controlled his diabetes from when he was 14 until he passed away from cancer at 17 years old. In both dogs and cats, diabetes is a manageable disease and with the partnership of a good vet, owner education, and commitment to your pet's care, your pet can live a healthy and full life. You can read Barney's diabetes story to see what a high quality of life he had and how we managed his diabetes.
Since the indulged furries are indoors or confined to my back yard
using the Cat Fence-In "Combination Barrier" system (which also kept other cats out
of the yard), fleas were not too much of a problem for us. But
fleas are everywhere and 2 or 3 times in the past 10 years I've had to
deal with them. I used Advantage for Cats
on all the healthy kitties. When Barney lived with us, he was
diabetic and I did not put Advantage on him, just on the other
cats. I found that the dose sold for cats 10 pounds and under
worked well...even my 15-18 pounders! I treated them as soon as
I saw that they had fleas, so only 1 month's application was
necessary. I did not treat them every month as the product label
recommends. Years ago we had a serious infestation, so I also
sprayed all the carpets with a home use product that contained
pyrethroids and an insect growth regulator. The pyrethroids are
insecticides that kill adult fleas; the insect growth regulator
prevents the flea eggs from maturing into adults. It's been 5-8
years since I had to use a product inside the home, and it was an
Enforcer product. The closest product I can find to what I used
then is called ENFORCER Flea Spray for Homes.
Both Ed and Smokey are "ample" kitties who LOVE to indulge themselves with food. Smokey has passed away now, but weight control is still an issue with Ed. He weighs about 15 pounds and I'd prefer he weigh 13-14. He eats Eukanuba Restricted Calorie dry food, a little less than 1/2 cup twice daily. He also splits a 3 ounce can of "regular" canned food with Felix, just for some variety and to help reduce any problems that eating only one food can cause. I feed Felix and Ed at different locations so that Ed can not jump up to the counter where Felix's full-calorie food is kept. We don't deprive Ed of his food indulgences. Occasionally he gets a little bit of some of his favorite treats: graham cracker, Fig Newtons beef jerky. chicken, ice cream, etc.
These tips work any time you have a sick cat, but when Smokey was sick with a terminal illness, I could pull out all the stops and feed her whatever she would eat.