Senior Cat with Kidney Failure

Lab Draws require Gentle Handling

Mungojerrie, a 14 year old male kitty, has been a cherished companion to a man who fell for and married a woman of fine character with a penchant for dogs as well as cats. Mungojerrie swallowed his feline pride and adapted, only to be confronted soon thereafter by the entry of a baby boy, now an active toddler. Our protagonist in this tale of mirth and woe continues to accept life’s challenges with stoicism and grace. Cats don’t generally welcome change; Mungojerrie has soldiered through.

Mungojerrie appeared to be aging gracefully until his people noticed increased water consumption and urine output. A lab profile revealed mild elevations in his BUN and creatinine . These early indicators, along with his dilute urine, led to a diagnosis of stage II kidney failure. There was no time to waste.

Every cat with enough birthdays faces this reality. Mungojerrie would have had annual exams and lab work but his naturally sunny disposition evaporates in the veterinary clinic. A panicked pet can suffer physically and behaviorally if allowed to struggle; treatment room rodeos contradict the principles of competent medical care. We gave Mungojerrie oxygen with gas anesthesia.  He quickly nodded off, making the blood and urine draw easy for everybody. He was out the door 10 minutes later, completely unaware of his half teaspoon blood and urine donations.

To slow the wear and tear on Mungojerrie’s kidneys I changed his menu options to Hill’s prescription diet k/d and instructed his owners on daily injections of warm fluids under his skin. Most cats accept “subcutaneous” fluids with aplomb. Our plan to reevaluate this boy’s blood and urine in 6 months was adjusted when, 3 months later his owners noticed skin flaking-a possible indictor of physical stress.

A different approach was in order. Instead of brief anesthesia I prescribed gabapentin. The contents of one capsule mixed with food prior to my arrival at his home put Mungojerrie in a downright congeniel mindset. He knew I stole a little of his blood and urine this time but didn’t seem to care.

Many senior cats get years of great life with at-home fluids plus a kidney-sparing diet but Mungojerrie’s follow-up labs added additional details. Tune in next week.