Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cat kidney disease: When it's time to let go

Troy the cat had kidney disease
I've been spending a lot of time perusing blogs about cats and kidney disease over the last several days. Why? Because Troy was diagnosed with advanced renal failure last week. And today, despite all of the encouragement I got from online forums, I made the choice to let him 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.

Troy the black cat in his blue cat bed
He's off to the left of my computer monitor in this photo, in his favorite blue bed. Being here, so close to me, made him the happiest cat in the world.

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.

Troy the cat in his house scratching post

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?


  1. Run free Troy, run free! Hugs, I know this was a very difficult decision but one that needed to be made. With great love comes great loss.

    1. Well put. Thanks for leaving a note. It means a lot to me.

  2. We are so very sorry. Thank you for loving Troy so much, and for giving him a lifetime worth of happiness in the time he was with you. And for making the brave but very hard decision to let him go to the Bridge when it was time.

    Hugs, tears and gentle purrs to you as you miss your big guy.

    1. Thanks very much. I wish he had been here longer, but I do feel good about the care he got while he was here. Rescuing seniors is so hard, but it's so worth it.

  3. You have done the right thing ! It is egoistic not to let go and try by all means to keep the poor cat alive. My Pookie is 17 now, she certainly has kidney problems, she drinks a lot and is always hungry. I have to delete her food into a kind of soup ! But as long as she doesn't suffer, her fur is still shiny I think she should enjoy her life without bothering her with the vet. She has lost a lot of weight although she eats like a horse !
    It is terrible to loose a companion, but at least they had a good time.

    1. Ah, sweet Pookie. That's a very long life for a little kitty! She is lucky to have you. And thanks for sharing your story with me.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. It is the not quantity but quality of time that we spend with our pets that will give us sweet memories. It sounds as if you made Troy very happy and he knew that he was loved. That is what all of us hope for in life. You're in my thoughts and prayers. ♥

    1. That's a great way to look at this. Thanks for reaching out. It really helps.

  5. So sorry for your loss. You did the right thing.

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie