I wanted to share my experience here because CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) caught us by surprise. Our cat, Bean, is a 10 year old male American Shorthair. He is currently undergoing dialysis…
Here’s what happened in a nutshell:
10 days ago, Bean began staying in my bed room more than usual. Normally, he would go out onto the porch with me every morning, but that stopped suddenly. I assumed it was the cold weather…
He gradually stopped eating. He usually has a 1/5th of a can of Trader Joe’s soft cat food in the morning. He usually eats it all, but his voracious appetite became diminished. At first he would lick a little bit for the first few feedings, then he stopped eating it completely. I assumed he was eating hard food instead, but in retrospect, I never saw him eat any of that either.
Bean’s thirst became diminished. He wouldn’t go to the water bowl. This was Friday. I assumed it was a tooth ache and I asked my partner to take him to our usual vet first thing on Monday morning (our usual vet is closed on the weekends). He was acting like he was in pain and I thought that he probably had a tooth ache and/or infection… so it couldn’t wait until Monday.
On Saturday, rather than waiting for our vet to open on Monday, we took him to another vet (in our local shopping strip) that is open 7 days/week. They took some blood for a test. They would have the results back on Sunday. My partner also insisted they give Bean a Sub-Q – because we were really afraid he could be dehydrated. They hydrated him, gave us some Clavamox (for the supposed tooth infection) and we took him home.
On Sunday, the vet called back and reported the news: Kidney Failure (CRF). His BUN was 226 — extremely high. In fact, all of the CRF indicators were high (CK 1122, Protein 8.8, Creatinine 18.8, Phosphorus 11.5, Chloride 101, Potassium 3.2). It hit me like a rock. Instant shock. It took me about 3 hours of online research to realize (thankfully) that CRF could be managed…. And I was relieved by some anecdotal comments that some cats can live many, many years under managed care.
That same day we got the news, we took him back to the vet and insisted they give him another Sub-Q. They also gave us a quote for dialysis. I was shocked by the price, but was willing to pay it. $324 PER DAY. They had a payment plan… at least. They wanted a $10 application fee to top it all off… I thought that was outrageous!!!
Now let me say something: We’ve ALWAYS avoided that particular vet in the past BECAUSE they were so overpriced and expensive… but they were open on the weekend, so that’s why we took Bean to that vet for his blood work and the two Sub-Qs I mentioned. We took my Brussel’s Griffon (dog) to this particular vet years prior – and they really nickel and dimed us, so we never went back again. So word of advice: ALWAYS, ALWAYS shop around for quotes/prices.
Well, it was still Sunday. Bean had his second Sub-Q. We called our regular, “family” vet and left a message…. and luckily he called us back that evening and told us he would charge about $100 per dialisys session. “Bring him in Monday morning first thing” — and he also said it was a good decision to have the second Sub-Q performed. That evening I managed to syringe feed him 12cc of a “gravy” mixture consisting of some renal-support soft catfood and water. He had another 12cc of organic chicken broth (no salt, just pure broth from cooked chicken). And later that day he had another 10 cc of food. Monday morning, he went straight to the vet for his first dialysis session.
Fast forward to today: Bean is still at our regular vet this evening. This is Day-2 of his dialysis treatment. My partner went in to visit him today and he was very groggy, but noticeably better. He brought Bean a care package with some catnip and his favorite toys. We really debated about not visiting him because we didn’t want to get him all worked up, but he took the visit well and it was a good thing.
Tomorrow we pick Bean up from the vet… and we will get his revised blood work results. I’m coming to the realization that we are going to have to have blood work tests done regularly now and I’m learning what the numbers mean. It’s mind-numbing, but I’m getting it.
I’ve spent the last 3 days doing nothing but online research about CRF and possible treatments. Our vet said it’s possible Bean MIGHT recover fully that it could just be an infection or blockage…. I’m not crossing my fingers yet. I realize Bean is going to require careful observation over the coming weeks (and months). I’m an optimist, but I want to be prepared.
I purchased a month’s supply of Hi-Tor Renal Formula soft cat food from Amazon, CatSure (feline “Ensure”) liquid meal replacement, high-calorie food paste (in a tube), Azodyl, Epakitin, and also a water drinking fountain… all from Amazon (see below).
Just a word about these drinking fountains. Some of you might think this is going over-board. BUT I have to say: these fountains are critical. We have another cat, Maria, that was constantly, constantly getting getting UTI flare-ups because she was not drinking enough water. These fountains have a constant “tinkling” sound and they really, really attract cats to drink from them. I highly recommend them. Where as before, Maria would not drink a lot of water, she absolutely loves her water fountain and drinks from it daily for a lot longer periods of time than she ever did when we were using water bowls. Also: Bean, whereas he would not drink from a bowl the night before he went to the vet, regularly drinks from the fountain. So, if your kitty is not drinking, consider getting a fountain. Ours was $45 from Amazon.
Also, I have to add: I purchased these items not as a cure, but for support. I know I spent a lot of money. If I had to choose between dialysis and these products, I would choose dialysis because Bean crashed hard. He needed immediate care. If you’re in the same boat, I feel you should definitely get dialysis if your cat “crashes” like Bean did.
One more thing: Again, shop around for GOOD, ethical vet. Too many “Animal Hospitals” are nothing more than money-machines to the vets who work there. Sure, they might like animals, but they like getting rich, too. Case in point: the vet that wanted to charge us $324 per day for dialysis. Now obviously, if this was the only vet in town that offered dialysis for cats, we wouldn’t have batted an eye at that price. But given the fact that our regular, family vet charges just over $100 per day (including overnight fees, IV, catheterization, infusion monitor, Intraveneous fluids, urinalysis, ISTAT screen, in-hospital , Creatinine, and additional medications), it really goes to show that you *can* and should shop around.
Bean is supposed to come home tomorrow… and then we begin his managed care. Depending on how his blood work turns out tomorrow, we night have him stay an additional day or two. We will see. I will update this with his blood results, before and after, for those of you who may be contemplating dialysis. The vet has stated that MAYBE it’s not CRF, but all of Bean’s blood work points in that direction. In the meantime, here is what we bought Bean in order to support his homecoming from the vet:
Hi-Tor Neo Diet for Cats:
Nutri-Cal For Cats: