What's wrong with my cat?
July 9, 2009 4:03 AM   Subscribe

Anemic cat with poor appetite. Had symptoms of kidney (renal) issues but the numbers are now OK. Still no appetite. Diagnosis?

The patient is a 11 year old spayed female. Lethargy and lack of interest in food and water slowly developed over a few days and the vet found high creatinine. Treated with fluids and antibiotics and the cat perked up a bit. Urine culture negative (no infection). Cat is hydrated again, creatinine back to normal, but very little interest in food and found to be anemic.

Is this just simple chronic kidney issues or something else? She's visiting an internist today for more testing.
posted by exogenous to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has the cat's teeth been checked out? Does the cat drink? Does he go to the box? Just bringing up the dentist as she is an old cat and Periodontal disease is very common in cats over the age of 6. Min lost all lust for food and water, and as a result was very tired, when I could finally afford a trip to the vet they found he needed 6 teeth pulled. Much better now. Look at her teeth to exclude this idea, they'll have obvious brown borders and possibly blackening gums (infection).
posted by dabitch at 5:05 AM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: The cat has had a number of teeth removed already but on the last visit the vet said her mouth checked out OK. The cat does drink water and lick food, but eats very little of anything, from mushy baby food on up.
posted by exogenous at 5:08 AM on July 9, 2009

Best answer: Wow - this is very close to what's going on right now with our cat. (Who is male, and, though we don't know his exact age, a little younger than 11.)

How long have you been administering the fluids? (Subcutaneously?) We've been using this technique for about 4-5 weeks now, and it's only in the last 10 days or so that the cat has been eating normally again. In fact, in that time, he has visibly gained weight, and is now gleefully chowing down on the special kidney-maintenance food that, just three weeks ago he absolutely refused to eat. We give him 150cc of lactated ringer's solution every two days.

We are also (good lord, we spend a lot of time and money on this cat) giving him shots of this stuff (possibly a synthetic version of it; I can't recall right now) twice weekly, and I think this has helped, as well.

If your experience is anything like ours, it may take a few weeks for your cat to get back into normal eating habits, but it will happen.

We are, however, seeing some strange behavioral issues, and I'm not sure if they have to do with the amount of fluids in his body, with his anger at us jabbing him with a needle every few days, or what. Just last evening, we discovered that he'd been peeing all over our shoes, possibly for some time. (I'm shocked we hadn't smelled it before.) This is actually getting to be a real problem - he only sometimes uses the litter box. He also hangs out in areas of the house that he previously ignored or avoided. This is not problematic per se, but it's a little strange.

In sum: keep on giving the cat her regular amount of food, and, when she adjusts to her new routine of medication, etc., she may get back in the habit of eating normally again.

Oh, and our vet had some good things to say about this product, and I think I may actually order one today. Not sure if it'll help with your cat's eating habits, but could be worth a look.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:12 AM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Dr. Wu, that's encouraging. We were giving her 100 ml of saline subcutaneously each day. The vet also gave an appetite stimulant. The new specialist/internist we were referred to will be seeing that cat in about an hour. We'll be alert for her "thinking outside the box"!

I find it amusing that the cat could be receiving EPO during the Tour de France.
posted by exogenous at 6:01 AM on July 9, 2009

I recently started allowing my indoor cat to go outside for a few hours a day. She has become more active, cheerful, and frankly cleaner. Probably not an option for you but something to consider.
posted by yesno at 6:16 AM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: We do allow our two cats (the healthier one is a younger neutered male and has been surprisingly decent to the patient during her illness) some semi-supervised outdoor time in the fenced back yard. They do seem better for it.
posted by exogenous at 6:28 AM on July 9, 2009

Oh, yeah, we had the appetite stimulant, for a while, as well, but, so far as I can tell, Godfrey didn't start eating FOR REAL again until that course of treatment had ended.

We also had, for a short while before the app stimulant and perhaps overlapping with it a bit, a steroid (Prednizone) ointment that we would, believe it or not, rub on the inside of his ear every day. No idea if that worked or not, but it didn't seem to do any harm, and its purpose was to make the cat eat.

This particular cat was thrown off the Feline Tour de France last year for doping. He has brought great shame to our household.
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Given the anemia, you may have a combinations of problems going on, unfortunately.

Did they check for renal failure markers other than creatinine? BUN in the blood panel, and specific gravity in the urinalysis (concentration of urine) are often as reliable or even more reliable markers for CRF (chronic renal failure) than creatinine, in my experience with CRF cats (three in the last decade). Good luck!
posted by aught at 8:17 AM on July 9, 2009

Dr Wu - does your cat's litter-box have high sides? We found with one of our CRF cats many years ago that a symptom (we didn't realize was happening) was a gradually developing weakness in the hind legs (muscle atrophy due to low potassium, if I recall correctly), and he was having trouble getting in and out of the litter box (we swapped for a new one with lower sides and it helped the problem). Just a thought - maybe keep an eye to see if he's having trouble with hind legs in other ways, like jumping up on the bed, etc.?
posted by aught at 8:22 AM on July 9, 2009

Hi, aught.

Those are useful things to know about. Actually, though, the cat doesn't seem to have any trouble getting into or out of the box -- or, for that matter, onto windowsills, beds, couches, etc. He's actually had a huge burst of renewed energy since the fluids and EPO treatment, which is a welcome change (and perhaps something you can look forward to, too, exogenous). Thank you for your insight, though - I will keep an eye on his leapin'.
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:11 AM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: I'm sorry to say we had to euthanize her today. I didn't get to talk with the vet much but apparently she had a previously undiagnosed cardiac problem that compounded with the renal issues. The vet wasn't sure she'd even make it home.

Thanks all for your help and kind wishes.

Rest in peace, Maddie.
posted by exogenous at 12:24 PM on July 9, 2009

Oh, I'm very sorry. Om mani padme hum.

posted by aught at 6:34 PM on July 9, 2009

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