Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Cat kidney disease: When it's time to let go
In a way, this wasn't a surprise. I had been planning for Troy to leave me from the moment I brought him home. He was old and frail with terrible breath and a terrible coat condition. All of those signs and symptoms pointed to kidney disease, but his blood work and urine tests were clear.
I knew it was possible that we were dealing with a subclinical case of kidney disease. He may have had kidney problems that just weren't bad enough to pop up on a blood test. So I knew to monitor him, to push fluids, to use special food, and to bring him back for frequent testing.
And while I did that, I tried to make his time with me as comfortable as possible. I think I did a good job of it. He spent most of his 8 months of life with me in a position a lot like this.
But despite his joy in life, and he had a lot of that, Troy did have advanced kidney failure. His signs appeared with breathtaking speed. One moment, he was a healthy boy. The next, things all went south.
His weight dipped below the 8-pound mark, despite all of the extra feedings I provided. He spent hours and hours stuck to the water bowl, drinking and drinking, even when I supplied added fluids with a needle pushed beneath his skin.
And the eating thing. Oh, how we struggled with the eating thing.
Troy was never a very good eater, but in the later stages of this disease, he refused to eat anything at all. Even chicken, cheese sticks and corn chips left him cold. I couldn't even get him to eat his beloved ham.
And this morning, the vomiting and quivering started. The two bites of food he did eat came right back up, and he stood shivering in the windowsill while I called his doctor for an appointment.
I think his kidneys had been bothering him for quite some time, but he hid his symptoms from me. Cats can be crafty, and loving cats like Troy often don't like to upset their people. They want to make things easy on us, so they just do not make a fuss. They do not really demand our attention until they are very, very sick.
And even when Troy was very ill and vomiting, he still purred when he saw me. And he gave his doctor a few kitty kisses before he passed away. Even though he was dying, Troy put people first. That's just the kind of cat he was.
Now, I know it's unlikely that we could have done anything at all to make Troy's kidneys better. In cats, kidney problems are pretty much impossible to fix. You can attempt to solve the problem with a prescription food (which I did attempt), but it doesn't always work. The damage done stays done. And in frail and very old cats like Troy, it isn't at all uncommon for cats to take a swan dive. One day, they're doing fine. The next day, they are not.
So I'm a little heartbroken today. I miss my big guy. I wish things had gone a little differently.
Hug all of your pets a little tighter tonight, won't you?