Bam Bam, resident evil, is a renal failure cat. You wouldn’t know it looking at him, but he was diagnosed with acute renal failure (instead of chronic, which we understand, is a little bit of blessing – he was almost curable, unlike CRF cases. For references on the differences, scroll to the end). Now he gets the foie gras feeding treatment each night: we got to get a half Fortekor pill in him to help blood flow through those damaged cashews of his.
How did we know he was having kidney issues? We didn’t, at least not until he showed us – one day in August last year, he refused to eat and was listless and moody. When we did the fur test, pull up a bit of skin and see how fast it returns to original condition, it just stayed pulled for ever. So we rushed him to the vet. And he was warded for a week. Ever since, he’s had to go for a blood test every 3-6 months, and he was supposed to eat only Science Diet k/d, ‘special’ pet food formula for kidney patients. But he hated it, and if you smelled it, in comparsion to Natural Balance, the usual house rations, you’d understand why.
We spoke to the vet, and settled on giving him a NB-k/d cocktail. Food was important to his health, as with any cat (hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) where the liver starts to function abnormally might result even after just a day or two of not eating, and can be life-threatening) .. or human. The WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY CRF CAT? section here gives a bloody good perspective.
Bam Bam doesn’t want homecooked food (what it may say about our culinary skills, I don’t know – I’ve not cooked meat for a long time), so we stuck with the commercial pet food. He still would pick out the k/d and discard them if he was feeling prissy.
The thing about commercial renal failure formula is that there are only 2 options here in Singapore: Science diet k/d or Walthams. If you’ve read our little primer on petfood, you’d know the concerns we have with those – borne out by Bam Bam’s dislike of the by-products filled so-called special formulas.
We spoke to our vets about it, because patients must eat to sustain themselves and aid recovery, or for Bams’ case, his continued well-being. it was a great relief when they supported our decision to give him non-k/d formula. According to them, unlike UTI cats or cats with crystals in the urine, where the diet’s impact is 90%, the impact of diet on renal failure cats is only 10%. In this case, the best food for a cat like Bams was the food he would eat.
So it was back to the drawing board – we were looking for a food that he would eat which had the minimum likelihood of adding to his problems. Finally, on TANYA’s FELINE CHRONIC RENAL FAILURE INFORMATION CENTRE , a support site set up in memory of Tanya, and Thomas, renal failure victims gave, among other easy to understand for the layman stuff, very good info on WHICH FOODS TO FEED. AND WHICH TO AVOID. The key requirements for a renal failrue cat’s diet is low protein (now debatable, given that they are obligate carnivores), low phosporus and high potassium.
On a site (I don’t recall it right now) which listed quality commercial pet food that are good alternatives for the ones who reject the special formulas, like Bam Bam, we found good news. Natural Balance is noe of the non-special formulas that is equitable for a renal failure cat’s diet!
The key thing is, renal failure is irreversible, but it need not result in ongoing suffering and unhappiness for your cat. Some cats lived years of quality life. It’s up to us to ensure that.
Another good renal failure primer site: Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) in cats
One for the green-thumbed or if you have a garden: Beware Lilies – Kidney Failure Cause! And other plants poisonous to cats
EDIT 4 May 07: Just realised peteducation.com has very good primers for symptoms, causes and treatment of both Acute (ARF) and Chronic (CRF) Renal Failures: Kidney Disease Causes, Diagnosis & Signs, Treatment
(Created: 24 May 06. Updated 4 May 07)