Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cat Health Woes

Warning: No horse content, more just lamentations about how I feel I have been unable to help out my cats.

Maintaining two old man cats is actually a lot of fun most of the time.  They are both very sweet with humans and are old enough to have zero tolerance for BS from the dogs.  They get into slow fights with each other where they sit and lazily bat at each other.  They get more enjoyment from a well placed sun beam than I do from almost anything.  However, the health issues and the limited options available for treatment can be really frustrating.
He loves when we snuggle

Aragorn is generally in amazing shape for his age.  He will turn 13 this summer but looks like he is about 3.  His only issue is food allergies/IBD/something wrong with his digestive system.  As you can probably guess, problem A is diagnosing what is truly wrong.  IBD is a diagnosis of exclusion, but I have had a hard time getting vets that really think it is worthwhile to run extensive diagnostics. Traditional treatments like prednisone have actually made him worse.  I have been encouraged to just play with his food.  Fine.

After more reading than I ever wanted to do on species appropriate feeding, I wanted to get him off of the prescription food he has been eating.  It is kibble (apparently not great for cats, not that I am judging anyone whose cat is healthy eating it) and the ingredients are crap but more importantly, he was only doing so/so on it.  Still sick sometimes.  I tried a novel protein (duck) kibble and sent him into a total IBD meltdown so that didn't work.

A nutritionist suggested really high quality wet food.  You know, one where the first ingredient is the same as the name of the meat on the label.  I armed myself with Hound and Gatos lamb, chicken, beef, and pork and headed home.  So proud of myself and the ridiculous amount of money I am willing to spend to make my cat healthy.


Epic fail.

You would think I was trying to poison him.  He wouldn't go near the pork for anything, same with the chicken.  For about 35 seconds I was really excited I had a winner with the beef as he ate that with gusto.  And then promptly vomited it EVERYWHERE.  Guess we found a trigger food.  The lamb he ate for nearly a week.  He was the healthiest he has been in a long time.  I went and bought a bunch more, excited.  And he rejected it, full stop.  He went on hunger strike for 48 hours and my vet has cautioned it isn't worth the risk of fatty liver disease to push farther.  I cooked chicken for him and he wouldn't eat that either.  I cried.

I caved and let him eat his prescription dry for a few days while I regrouped.  I read that dry food cats tend to be carb addicts who can struggle to transfer to wet food so to start by feeding him whatever he will eat.  That basically Hound and Gatos is like trying to feed a McDonald's fed kid fancy organic greens or similar.  So I pulled out the McDonald's of cat food and he is currently eating wet Friskies.
He has no shame

He gobbles that shit down.  You know what the first ingredient is?  Water.  And no matter whether it says salmon or beef the second ingredient is usually chicken byproduct.  And he loves it.  Unfortunately, his digestive system isn't fully accepting of this so now I need to try to step him up to the middle ground.  Because he is still rejecting the high end stuff.  Sigh a million times.  I want to get him to raw but at this point that would take a miracle.

And then there is adorable Griffin.  Who was once morbidly obese (9/9 BCS when surrendered to the shelter) and whose joints have had a rough life.  He has arthritis in his back/hind legs.  No point figuring out exactly where because do you know how many arthritis treatments are available for cats?  Effectively none.  You can get a fentanyl patch but those have their own issues and my vet is hesitant to prescribe at this time.  The severity of his pain varies but he almost always minces around and occasionally gets really lame and won't move much.

At my vet's recommendation, he has been on a joint supplement for the past two months - Dasuquin.  No noticeable difference yet and the science of oral joint supplements is not promising.  But I don't know what else I can do for him.   Acupuncture maybe?

I know I am just complaining here and I am actually lucky.  I have lost several cats at much younger ages.  Dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis - getting to help them through elder years is a blessing.  But I feel like when my dogs have been older and sick, I have had more options.  I just wish I could do the same for the cats.


  1. I'm a vet tech that has worked at veterinary specialty hospitals for the last 8 years, and I'm a fellow cat lover. :) I have 3 of my own. Do you have any veterinary internists in your area? I would start there with Aragorn, if you haven't already. An abdominal ultrasound would confirm IBD vs something more serious like GI lymphoma, and an internist would be able to help you with diet modifications and medications that you could try. There are many options for cats but an internist would know best about treatments that could help.

    For Griffin, I would recommend an orthopedic surgeon: they can help you with alternative therapies like physical therapy, laser treatments, and making sure that the issue is really arthritis and not a neurological problem. Has he had x-rays taken to confirm the arthritis?

    I hope this helps! I completely understand your frustration but want you to know that there really are alternatives out there for our feline companions! :)

    1. Thank you Saiph! I have never heard of a internist but I live in the Denver metro area so I think I can find one. CSU is always a feasible drive if nothing else works.

      He does have confirmed arthritis, and I am still somewhat hopeful that the Dasuquin might help some.

      Thanks again!! I am always looking for new ideas