I am fostering a senior cat in kidney failure. He gets sub-q LRS every 3 days, and is doing great. However, he refuses to eat any of the Rx kidney diet canned foods. He likes non-Rx, pate-style wet food. Are there certain brands/ flavors of non-Rx wet food that are friendlier on the kidneys than others? Thank you for your time!
There is a debonair, 17 year old cat sitting at the bar, named Whiskers. He’s got slicked back fur, and groom lines around his ears. He’s well dressed with perfectly trimmed nails. He’s roamed the urban landscape of Istanbul, Turkey, and New York. His 1964 aston martin is parked outside. There is an unforgettably beautiful girl on his arm, listening to his stories about how cat’s meow in Paris. He slowly sips his manhattan. This is one cool cat.
The table over has a couple of 3 year old cats in a heated argument - raw food vs fancy feast tuna delight. One of them tried raw a few years, but it didn't go over well with his vegan girlfriend he recalls.
Two cats sit at a table in the corner. There is a mound of fur underneath them. As they sip their grain free beer, their heads are darting around the room, with pinned back ears. They pick at their fur with fervor between sips of ale. One says to the other "The GRAINS...did you see them?!!! There! It was RIGHT THERE" as he points to his now hairless flank".
Corn chips and used needles litter the last table. “It doesn't really matter if you store it in the fridge” a phat cat says to the other, as they argue about who needs the higher insulin dose. “I’ve forgotten it on the table overnight, and it still works just fine” as he reaches for more corn chips.
All of a sudden, there is a rumble from the parking lot. The doors open, and light shines in the room, silhouetting a new cat that has entered. His friends call him “Tails”. He has weathered levi's 501’s and white t-shirt with the sleeves rolled. His aftershave smells like fresh mountain catnip with a touch of silvervine. All the ladies take notice of him, perk up with question mark tails, almond eyes and fix their skirts. Cornchip, grain-free and "raw vs fancy feast" avoid making eye contact with him.
He makes his way to the bar stool.
Whiskers takes a sip of his Manhattan, and fires a grin towards Tails. The waiter nods to both of them, pushes aside the standard plastic wrapped menus, and pulls out the special a la cart selection the chef has lovingly put together.
While skimming the a la cart, Whiskers and Tails get into a great conversation and compare notes about what they ate in their travels. Did you try the clams out east? Did you see what it did for your fur? How about the mice in Bombay? Yeah, I skipped the onion powder, but boy, what a night!
As they laugh and drink, they revel in what joy food has brought them. They know that cats' both eat to live, but they also live to eat.
They need to eat to live, AND live to eat at the same time.
Neurologically, they are designed that way.
So Samantha, your situation is pretty normal - cat has chronic kidney disease (CKD), but says no to prescription kidney diet foods. So what should they eat?
Ok, I'm gonna talk in generalities here, which is sometimes a dumb thing to do when talking about cats, because of the degree of individual variation that we see with them.
But here it goes.
Cats like yours need the a la cart approach. Because they eat to live, but also gotta live to eat.
Prescription kidney diets are a knee jerk reaction to CKD. In a vet's brain it goes like this “have a cat recently diagnosed with CKD, they are doing great with no other problems, but don’t know what else to recommend for them...there is some science to food helping them so, I’ll stick em’ on prescription kidney food”.
It’s a reliable, safe recommendation we can make. It will help some cats.
But - it isn't nuanced or detailed enough if you are after longevity for an individual.
Because then you want to balance things out.
And because they got to eat to live, and they live to eat!
Food brings a joyous, hedonistic feeling to cats. Is it important to feel good during the act of eating while you are dealing with an illness? Yes!
So it’s pretty rare nowadays for me that a cat gets a CKD diet recommendation and that’s that. Especially if they are in CKD stage I or II and they are having some issues keeping weight on.
So I want to know what stage of CKD are they? Are they showing any loss of lean muscle mass? Do they have any other problems affecting their body (they often do)? Where is their phosphorous level at? Are they super picky eaters? Etc. etc. etc.
It’s not the end of the world if they can’t eat a prescription diet with CKD.
So what do I do?
Keep them happy as hell. I try to eliminate phosphorus from the equation if they must eat something else. I might do that by recommending what you are already doing - SQ fluids.
I might add a phosphate binder to their regular, non kidney food.
I know the big wins come from keeping their body weight stable. And they can only do this when they still love to eat.
I was wondering if you could provide any resources I can read myself or give me some tips on how to avoid FIC/Bladder issues/Crystals etc. We lost our Maine Coon Henry last June after a week in the hospital at Iowa State Veterinary to FIC. He was fully blocked, successfully unblocked, peed well, but then his bladder/urethra would not stop spasming (trying not to cry while I write this).
We have always served good quality wet food, access to plenty of water in bowls, fountains, extra litter boxes etc. We did ‘everything right’ with the exception of play time outside since we do not have a backyard.
I am aware FIC is predominately in young male indoor cats, and our vets told us the research does not really say anything conclusive about what really causes this.
I am also curious if there is a geographical factor in the occurrence of FIC in cats. We moved from Kingston, ON to Ames, Iowa. Within 10 months of living in Iowa Henry developed FIC. The water here is hard and I noticed build up on all our faucets. I changed our remaining/surviving cat’s water over to distilled because I am paranoid it will happen to her too.
We want to get another male cat eventually and I want to be sure I am providing the best care for our female and future cat.
Any information is greatly appreciated and thank you for taking questions!
You feel this so deeply when you’ve done everything so that nothing will hurt them, nothing can take them from your side.
And then before you know it, they are gone.
You did everything you could.
For those that don’t know, feline lower urinary tract signs (FLUTD) is when your cat has difficulty peeing, because their bladder is inflamed, they have stones or crystals, they are in pain when they try and pee, they have infection, or something is affecting them behaviourally (psychologically) or anatomically (the equipment you need to be right to go pee normally).
Sometimes it’s mild, and you barely notice it.
But it can take your cat’s life very quickly if they just CAN'T go pee. I will see a cat with some sort of FLUTD symptom every week.
So back to Kellie. Your vet correctly says that there isn't one conclusive cause.
So what do you do?
You just start to design their life, step by step, according to their personal needs. Here is what I mean.
When I brought my new cat Lenny home from Cuba, I took one look at him and said - buddy, you're going to block. You are an orange male tabby, who is probably going to get fatter while living with me, who has just had a major upheaval in your life.
And I like my sleep. I need my sleep. So I’ll take you to the clinic and treat you if you block at 3am, but I really gotta sleep at night, so right off the bat, I am gonna make a choice about what you eat.
So it’s 90% wet food, whole diet, specifically formulated for lower urinary tract health. Is it expensive? Yes. But I need my sleep damnit. I personally use Rayne RSS. I want whole, simple food designed for urinary tract health.
So I get a double whammy effect right there against FLUTD. Increased wet food is a better hydrated cat, which is better urine chemistry that promotes health. And it’s formulated to promote that proper chemistry.
Next, who is this cat I brought back - what is his personality like? Is he timid, social, anxious, gregarious, aloof? Does he like to play? With what?
There are statistics that show less fearfulness and anxiety can equal less FLUTD. So this is all behavioural design, and I think this will be huge in reducing signs of FLUTD.
FLUTD can be a lifestyle disease. Just like diabetes and heart attacks in people.
This initially makes no sense to people. People don’t walk into a room, and because the furniture or toilet is not to their liking, develop an issue where they can’t pee. And even worse, vet’s call the solution to this sort of thing “enrichment”.
What does that even mean? Enrichment? Did I win the lottery? I don’t know any normal people who talk about their lives in terms of enrichment.
Let’s call it something else.
Think in terms of lifestyle for preventing bladder issues.
You want their lifestyle to fit their individual preferences. Which means you want to preference test them. Where do you like you're scratching posts? Are you bored? Is it because you eat all your wet food in 20 seconds and have nowhere else to put your hunter brain? Do you get stressed out going to your litter box (p.s. most litter boxes suck and most cats just tolerate them. Like you would do when you really have to go and it’s a seen-better-days public bathroom or nothing). Do I need to rotate your toys every month? Do you like to be brushed? Do you not like to be touched?
This is where I am at with Lenny. Figuring out his feeding, scratching and play preferences. I think he’s just tolerating his litter box, and I will have to fix that.
When you are figuring out their preferences, don’t be afraid of using natural products to reduce their anxiety. Feliway, Zylkene etc. This isn't a weird thing to do. Because people do this all the time. Self medicate, that is. Something stresses you in your life? You have outlets. Friends. Movies. Beer. Cat’s don't get these choices...so we gotta give them the benefit of the doubt when there is a change going on in their life.
I get the feeling that you are someone who would have thought of all this stuff anyway. Sometimes you can’t predict the bladder cancer or the urethral anomaly that they had that gave them the blockage despite all you did.
I know Kingston, ON, where you were from. Beautiful city. We would drive there, and celebrate my Maddie’s birthday and eat cupcakes by the water. We had some really peaceful days there. Hopefully you find that things work out great where you are for your cats!
I have 2 cats with uncontrollable diarrhea. The other cats in the household are fine. We have tried the following: Flagyl (Lots), pumpkin, yogurt, fortiflora, convenia, steroids, currently trying a limited ingredient diet. Of course they have had fecals which are negative. Their bloodwork is normal. Our vet is at a loss as to what else to try. They frequently don’t make the litterbox so I am constantly mopping with bleach, washing their and my bed linens, and bleaching surfaces they sit on. To make matters worse, one is not possible to examine without being under anaesthesia, so I hate to have him to the vet too much. (He is not feral, gets along with our other cats, gets along with people, but will BITE the vet very, very hard.) I felt so bad the first time it happened I sat outside in the car and cried for half an hour. So, I hate to have him to the vet too often because I don’t want him under anaesthesia very often. They are both about 9 years old and I’ve had them since they were kittens.
I hear that it’s not simple to bring them into your clinic, and it hasn't been simple to solve the diarrhea. You are mopping up diarrhea.
You are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The first thing I always want to know about is body weight. Are they having diarrhea and losing body weight, or in fact are they the same or gaining weight?
In my mind, there is a great divide right there in terms of how I’ll think about a cat with chronic diarrhea.
Losing weight? You have less time to figure things out, and it’s time to try a new strategy. It also tells me about their potential underlying issue.
Stable weight? You typically have more time to try things with your vet team at home - discussing their issues and picking things up from the clinic etc.
Affecting both cats? While I have seen coincidences in my lifetime like this, this tells me that a certain approach needs to be tried, and certain results need to be ignored. Like negative fecal tests.
This is a hard situation, but never ever be at a loss as to what to do next:
Read my answer about how not to get fooled by the poop: http://www.iwillhelpyourcat.com/dr-kris-qa/#/when-your-driving-in-a-chevy-and-its-getting-kind-of-heavy-diarrhea/
Then read my answer to unstoppable diarrhea here: http://www.iwillhelpyourcat.com/dr-kris-qa/#/unstoppable-diarrhrea/
And it would be my goal to never have you cry in the parking lot again. This comes from a pre-visit action plan. When we know that our cat’s are very reactive coming into the vet clinic, they are telling us that most of the time, they are scared, anxious or fearful about the whole experience. The biting that comes out of it is a cat who just feels he or she has no other options.
Biting is a last resort for a cat. But so is anesthesia!
And I'm working on something in 2017 to help people just like you in this situation!
We took our orange tabby male cat to the vets for what was diagnosed as stress cystitis and high urine Ph. When we got him home, one of our other three cats reacted to him with extreme fear – hissing, growling, screaming. They used to be best buddies. How can we help to restore the peace? This has gone on for nearly 3 weeks.
In your cat’s brain, it’s like this.
Your male tabby went to a vet clinic in North Korea. And your other cats’ live in South Korea. And on the way back, things got rough.
Your first step in stopping the attacks? You need a demilitarized zone to diffuse the conflicts.
The conflicts you have going in your cat's mind could include:
- You smell different since you got back from the clinic and it’s freaking me out.
- You left and came back, I hate that I saw the cat carrier and that is freaking me out.
- I tolerated you before (so we looked like best buddies to the humans) but really you're too much for me to handle right now since you got back (after all - the stress cystitis came from somewhere).
- I have cystitis and it's changing my behaviour, and my housemates don't like change.
Even if your cats went to the clinic and back without problems before, it doesn't matter. Those are the conflicts you have. So you gotta create some zones here. Specifically, some separation between your cats that creates some time for them to heal the relationships.
If you start running into a cycle of chasing and escaping cats, this can be hard to fix and make the problem worse. So separate them. This means you gotta provide a separate litter tray, food and living quarters at minimum for orange tabby.
Then change the scents they are dealing with. Feliway friends for the scent, and consider Zylkene in everyone’s food, because everyone here needs to chill out a bit.
Biggest mistake here is to not treat all the cats, and not doing everything at once.
Sometimes folks will say “well, it’s only that one cat causing the problem, so why do I need to change things for all of them?”. Think in terms of demilitarized zone. Neither side is allowed to control it, but everyone has stakes in how things will turn out. The solutions have to be directed at the group.
That’s step 1.
Sometimes it’s all it takes, sometimes you gotta go further but it can work!
What is the optimal protein% for scanned food diet? I aim for a mean average of 10% per day of grain free proteins consisting of chicken, duck, turkey, pork and rabbit on a rotation. I supplement with a high protein dry food in an 8 (canned) to 1 (dry) ratio.
Your attention to detail is really good here, and for healthy, normal cats I almost never think about food in terms of % protein when considering how well a diet is put together.
When we are after longevity or preventing behavioural issues, the things I think about most from food is:
- Does my client understand that my cat is an obligate carnivore, which means that they hunt prey to live. Most of their prey consists of protein in the greatest amounts, then fats, then carbs in the least amount. A mouse is about 48% protein, 47% fat and 5% carbohydrates. It’s about 30kcal. This doesn't mean that you need food with 48% crude protein. It just means you want food that resembles that ratio.
- Can the food come from high quality, whole foods sources.
- A cat’s behaviour and body benefits from when their food is spread out through the day in mini-meals, verses twice or three times a day.
- Can they get as much of their food in a wet form.
For reference, the wet diet I am currently giving Lenny (Rayne RSS) is about 10% protein (crude), then fat, then fibre (1%). It’s also 82% moisture. Each 93kcalorie tray is like him getting 3 mice. So it would be ideal for me to divide up the contents of the tray for 3 feedings.
That’s theoretically the best in terms of feeding frequency.
In reality sometimes I'm rushed before I leave for work, or get home late, or forget to bring home food on time etc etc etc...
P.S. - I like the protein rotation you are doing!
Hi Dr. Kris, I took in a beautiful little feral cat. She’s been spayed, checked out and chipped. I notice from time to time she has a rolling sort of hack (cough like) and sneezes. My vet checked her out and they gave her a shot for it so we assumed it was a cold. She has little bouts with this hack from time to time. What do you recommend? she’s about 2 yrs old now.
Ooooh I'm so happy you adopted a little feral cat!
I always Xray the chest of my persistent hacking kitties. Not because I think something scary is going on - more because while it may be true that she probably does have an upper resp infection on occasion, it always sucks to miss asthma, bronchitis or viral pneumonitis.
And if she doesn't have those things, then great - you have your baseline Xray of her chest in case things do change in time (sometimes that’s how you catch the issue - take a picture once, then repeat it a while later), plus we become confident that her occasional hacking isn't something bad in a crucial area of her body.
I recently scheduled my cat for her dental cleaning (this will be her first and she’s a 5 year old Himalayan/Ragdoll mix that we got from the Humane Society) and she got her pre dental blood work done. Her tests came back with a high level of SDMA at 16 (normal levels range from 0-14) and the doctor wants to do a urine test to confirm, since the SDMA test is somewhat new in the testing world. We’re bringing her in soon to get that done and they plan on doing a Cysto to extract the urine directly from her bladder– First, I was wondering if this procedure is safe for her or if it’s especially painful. Second, I’m very nervous to go through with the dental cleaning and anesthesia if she has low kidney function. Do you have any suggestions or comments or am I just worrying to much?
Ok, first off good for you for doing this. Himalayan and Ragdoll’s and dentals go together. Especially if you want to optimize their health.
SDMA helps when making a judgment call on the health of a cat’s kidneys. But it can't and won’t define kidney disease on its own. So you need the urine to help figure things out.
Cysto is the standard way to get pee from your cat. I do this every day in clinic. It’s low risk, and the needle is going through an area of the body that I would not describe as painful. I either feel the bladder in my hand, or look at the bladder on an ultrasound, and I know exactly where to put the needle.
If I don’t feel the bladder, I don’t poke.
It’s like what they say in carpentry - measure twice, cut once.
How we handle our cats during the procedure DOES change how they feel about it. If they are handled in a way so they are not stressed, things go well.
So simple things add up to massive safety. If you have a good team you are confident in, the safety factors should be all built into any procedure.
It’s a medical procedure so the fine print can happen. And if you have a blocked cat, the risk goes up quite a bit. But blocked your cat is not.
It comes down to a judgment call. I think the benefits of massaging those kidneys early in life to have optimum health can far outweigh the theoretical risks associated with cystocentesis (if it’s done right).
Cats with stable CKD can have anesthetic and dentals. I did one for Zack when he was 19 years old with his CKD.
But let’s flip the SDMA on it’s head.
If SDMA was the only thing wrong, and the urine and everything else is ok, then maybe your cat was dehydrated when they took the bloodsample and the SDMA alone reflected that.
But let’s say the SDMA is true (it does suggest early chronic kidney disease).
The truth is, MOST of your cat’s kidneys work fine if it’s only SDMA that is elevated. I would not regard her has having “low” kidney function.
If you took your cat to the shop to look at brake pads, and 20% were worn, they would be considered good brake pads, not low functioning.
And, because the SDMA was elevated, she gets the kidney anesthetic plan, tailored to your cat. Right? Because we do all the small things that add up to massive safety.
I have many clients who are just like you. They like and want details.
I would never accuse you of worrying too much. You have good questions, and you are an advocate for your cat!
That’s great in my books!
Dr. Kris, my 5 yr. old kitty has a coughing episode once every day or so. He has spots on his lungs that no vet has been able to diagnose except for saying it’s asthmatic or bronchial in origin.The medicine recommended for both are very strong with dangerous side effects. I’ve already lost a kitty at age 5 from asthma who’d been on prednisone for 2.5 years. I’m frightened those meds will weaken my kitty’s organs and might be “overkill” for his coughing episodes. Do you have any ideas you could share? Thank you.
Ok, lets break this down:
My 5 yr. old kitty has a coughing episode once every day or so. He has spots on his lungs that no vet has been able to diagnose except for saying it’s asthmatic or bronchial in origin.
I'm going to assume that your cat's history (the coughing), exam (we maybe can hear wheezing but not all the time), and Xrays (little circles - train tracks and donuts in the lungs) have all led to top differential diagnosis of lower airway disease.
The coughing is like buying a train ticket.
The exam is boarding the train, and going on a trip.
The Xrays is where the train stops and you get off the train.
But you're just at the right station. You're not at the final address for your destination.
So it’s true, no vet will be able to describe your cat's issues any more than as it stands right now. The taxi or Uber ride to your hotel is doing a trans-tracheal wash and culture. Does “trans-tracheal wash” sound like fun? Nope.
So, here is what a vet might think. Well, I'm at the right station, called Lower Airway Disease central.
And the station is located in Asthma town, in the State of Bronchitis.
The medicine recommended for both are very strong with dangerous side effects. I’ve already lost a kitty at age 5 from asthma who’d been on prednisone for 2.5 years.
You have a negativity bias towards prednisolone. This isn't a bad thing and it's definitely not an insult. It’s just a very normal, human way to feel. Don't feel bad for feeling this way. Our negativity bias keeps us safe in a world where things can get unpredictable.
The bad things that happen in life can be more memorable than the good things - it makes us vigilant and wary, and more risk averse. It doesn't matter which medication, food or supplement we are talking about here. Past negative experiences overwhelmingly colour the decisions we make in the future. There isn't a medication on the shelf that I have not seen described as very strong with dangerous side effects by some, and at the very same time has been seen as a God-send by others.
The mom that came in a few years back, where pred saved her sons life from an allergic attack? Didn't hesitate to use it for her own cat. The client whose pet went through chemotherapy with the very same medication? Not really good experiences she had with it.
Do you have any ideas you could share?
Ask your vet for the "address" - if knowing more about what your cat has helps you in figuring out what to do next, then it’s worth it.
If your cat is coughing almost everyday, then for me that’s a quality of life issue.
I had the worst asthma of my life last year. It didn't stop me from living my life, but the shortness of breath, coughing with no relief? Ease of breathing goes hand in hand with good quality of life.
I would want to relieve an animal from that experience if I could.
You might be happy to know that asthma puffers have a very high safety profile as compared to ingested steroids. I would consider that if indeed your cat has asthma (your vet would recommend a bronchodilator and antiinflammatory puffer most likely).
We have two cats, a long hair and a short hair, they have been chewing and scratching themselves. We’ve checked for fleas but found none. The short haired one has even chewed so bad he has bare spots. Both are inside cats. Can you provide suggestions as to how or what we can do to help them stop this?
3 steps to this:
Step 1) Stop the itch scratch cycle. Scratching causes dermatitis and promotes opportunistic infection. Infection and dermatitisis are itchy. The itching causes more dermatitis and promotes more infection.
Even if the thing that started them scratching is gone, unless you cut the cycle they will get worse. You want them to stop itching ASAP, and make sure there isn't any pyoderma or yeast on the skin.
Step 2) Two is one, and one is none: Didn't see fleas? Doesn't matter. They only live inside? Doesn't matter. I've seen that a million times. You can have a tiny number of fleas, but if your cat has flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) you won't find them. You will only find a really itchy cat.
Treat them with revolution. Two times according to the directions. Parasites love it when we don’t do redundant things. Gotta treat them more than once. One is none. Wash the bedding and vacuum the places they rest.
Step 3) See what they do after that. Problem solved? Great. They get itchy again? You gotta look for the other underlying reasons that cause this.
I’ve had cats for 35 years and learned many things from them, including their ability to hide pain. My female cat, a Himalayan, is almost 14. In the last 6 months I’ve noticed her walking more stiffly and an inability to jump up on furniture she used to reach with ease. Occasionally she will cry out if I touch certain places on her hindquarters.
My vet’s x-rays showed arthritis from the base of her tail to halfway up her spine. I now have Buprenex to use as needed, but I’m wondering if there are alternatives to the pain medication. I recently started treating her for high blood pressure; however, a blood test showed she is otherwise healthy with scores within normal range in every category.
You get it.
You’ve had cats longer than I have. And they teach us stuff about them and ourselves all the time.
Here’s the one thing they can teach us here, because it’s applicable to our own bodies as well. We are talking about chronic pain for the most part here.
When you see the mild limp, back sensitivity, or hesitation to jump, that is the end stage and not early signs of the beginning of a pain issue. Chronic pain is your central nervous system not adapting to a situation very well. And most of this maladaptation has nothing to do with the conscious perception of pain.
So, we are not consciously aware of this brewing damage, until the levee breaks and the pain forces us to protect ourselves by restricting our movements.
For cats this is doubly true...the levee breaks, then they feel it, but then don’t even want to show it.
So you are seeing the end, and not the beginning of a problem. Your initial pain medication is just helping with the collateral damage.
So the goal becomes to
- Make them feel better, and not hurt.
- Reverse the maladaptation of the nervous system.
- Stop muscle wasting and atrophy.
Those are my big three.
To answer those, I'm gonna have to do a mega post.
It’s going to take some time but watch for it coming up…
Dr Kris I have recently inherited a 15 year old female and i am trying to learn about cat diets. She will eat major brand can food but I have read that the grains are not good for her. Have tried grain free but she will not eat. How bad are the grains for her and what about freeze dried food. Thanks for what you do!
I remember in the 1990’s it didn't matter which way you looked in the grocery store - “low fat” versions of common foods were everywhere.
It was in the news. Time magazine. EVERYWHERE.
And you felt good about buying it. After all, less obesity and heart disease is a good thing right. It got so manic, that we were adding Olestra (a “fat replacer”) as an additive to foods so they could be marketed as fat free.
And then, without a bang or a parade, low fat foods slowly but surely become less the staple of grocery store shelves. I believe it was the abdominal cramping and loose stools (anal leakage) that put an end to Olestra.
Persuasion towards one type of food versus another is big business folks. And there are teams of marketing agencies vying for your dollars.
I just watched that movie, “The Founder”. It tells the story of Ray Kroc, the entrepreneur that built McDonalds into what it is today.
It’s a great movie. Because it shows that the people that sell you food know how you think about food. They know your fears. They know your pain. They know your hopes, dreams and aspirations.
And it wasn't the guys who invented the McDonalds burger, fries and all dairy milkshakes that made McDonald's ultimately the massive entity it is now.
It was Ray Kroc, the marketer that knew how he wanted you to feel when you bought McDonalds food. He knew the psychology of the people he wanted to affect, and knew exactly what strings to pull to get the job done.
In terms of marketing, Grain-free is the new low fat
And I don’t care.
I don’t need to.
Because I take what I learn from my patients. I learn from the cats that I see. And I see a lot of them. They are all individuals. And cats will tell you the truth. Their decisions aren't affected by rhetoric or marketing.
It’s not the grains or lack of in a cat's diet I want to talk about.
It’s the relationship of the cat with a person, and how I can serve them best.
So the real question is - who is my cat, what are his nutrition goals? If someone thinks that's the same for every single cat, well, they just haven't met enough cats yet. Anyone who speaks in broad, waxing terms about what must be the best nutrition for all cats, is the person that allows individuals to fall through the cracks. Because a nutrition goal could mean you don’t want grains or carbohydrates in the food. It could also mean it’s less important given other aspects happening in their lives.
This guy would have died without having grains or other carb sources of energy source during care for his traumatic injury:
Now, he doesn't eat any grains. It's no longer related to his health goals. Cat’s eat mice amongst other prey. Mice can have a small amount of grain in their GI tract. And they can eat that ten times a day. So cat’s know how to consume small amounts and be really healthy. Some cat's have sensitivities to grains. Most cats with IBD have sensitivities to the type of protein they are eating.
Other cats will have optimized heath my replacing grains with something else. But ask questions to what that something else is. I have no doubt in the realm of human food, that we will eventually find reports that "grain-free" means "we'll put something else in the product to replace the grains in the food and hope you don't ask too many questions about it".
The body needs fat, so the low-fat craze was destined to fail. So the grains = low fat analogy isn't perfect past the marketing perspective.
Does your cat need grains? Probably not.
Should they eat food primarily made of grains? Like cereal for cats which is what some foods are? Nope.
Are cats perfect carnivores who's bodies will never require anything but what their ancestors ate? If you believe this, you wouldn't survive a week in my world. Your success rate with working with people and their companions would be horrible.
My message is simply this - when you are an advocate for your cat, dig below the marketing. Assess your cat as an individual.
Beware of broad, sweeping generalizations and of course the sprinkling of science and anectodes used to back it up. Because there are clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you:
I’m glad to see Dr Kris here and look forward to what he has to bring to the cat community here. My question is about cats with pancreatitis. My oldest was just diagnosed with it, but my vet really didn’t explain what I he will be going through in the future. What should I be looking for from here on out and what is the life span of a cat once it has been diagnosed? Also, over the last year or so he has started eating the vomit from my other cats if I don’t get to it quick enough. Would this have anything to do with this strange behavior? He is 14 years old and never did that before.
Thank you for saying that!
First thing I would want to know is if it was acute pancreatitis (which can happen to any cat) or chronic.
Acute goes away. Chronic sticks around or is simmering below the surface, even though your cat looks good on the outside.
If your cat is doing well, you can check their quantitive FPL. It's a blood test you can get done at the clinic. If it’s elevated beyond normal, but your cat looks normal, that's one hint that maybe we should be putting energy towards managing a chronic state. An ultrasound can also reveal evidence of a chronic state that is simmering below the surface. It really is multiple pieces of information that you need to make that judgment call.
Now, sometimes the pancreas is just collateral damage.
It’s the small intestine that’s actually upset or inflammed. Or the kidneys are really unhappy (you probably would have known that from the bloodwork you did). Sometimes it’s bacterial overgrowth in the gut, and they are deficient in vitamin B12.
Their lifespan can be normal. It depends on what’s making the pancreas upset, and what we do about.
So it’s worthwhile to do a bit of digging to see if there is any subclinical chronic state hapenning. Then adjust their food, supplements and other therapies from there.
I adopted a second cat from a rescue. She started sneezing a lot when I brought her home and my other cat (16 years old) became hoarse. They were both treated with an antibiotic from the vet and seemed to get better. However, my young cat does sneeze several times a day, every day with no other symptoms. This has been about 3 months. The vet said some young cats develop an upper respiratory infection when young and almost always have it. Is this true? Should I be concerned or treat her in some way?
Once you get a cold sore, you’ll get them again later in life. Cat viruses can be like that - you get it once, it stays with them for weeks or months, then it disappears. It can come back every few years or not at all.
Sounds like herpes virus is what you are dealing with. Statistically it’s usually herpes virus, although there are others (calicivirus). If she’s mild, and they are eating, drinking and otherwise doing ok, I sometimes just watch them.
Some people give L-lysine (and antiviral treatment).
It’s ok and safe but I’ve never seen anything amazing from it.
I treat these guys more intensely if their eyes become affected or they are blowing thick boogers out of their nose. Otherwise, it’s kind of like a cold sore. It’s your constant companion for life but for the most part it stays in the closet.
Very nice of you to adopt the rescue kitty!
Hi, I live in Turkey with my 12 years old persian an 6 years old scottish fold. My 12 years old persian cat tent to have mild food allergy and feline acne nowadays… Before, she wasnt an allergic cat and eating hills ideal balance dry cat food and brit care branded natural and high quality wet cat food. But since 6 months every time I give her wet cat food, her feline acne comes back…her vet sees her and give convenia shot once, and she take 2 months long probiotic immune system vitamins..but unfortunately the acne gets better but wont go completely.. her blood test results are fine, only her immune system values are very low…I want to ask Dr Kris how should I feed a 12 year old sensitive persian cat? Shouldnt I give her wet food any? Again unfortunately there is no raw cat food or barf cat food products in Turkey.. only dry kibble and wet can cat food…Do older cats more tent to feline acne? I’m so desperate because here in Turkey veterinery care doesnt improved like USA or Canada… And also the drugs and pet product are very limited too…
Hello Meltem in Turkey. I’ve always wanted to go there!
First thing to note - it’s not the fact that the food it wet. It’s what the wet food is made from.
So take a look at ingredients in the can - probably want to stay away from the proteins listed in there.
If the ingredients in the wet food and dry food are the same, but reacts with the wet food, then you’ve got trace amounts of stuff in the wet food not listed on the label.
Or it’s coincidental.
Because as doubtful and unconvincing as that sounds at first, I see that all the time. The skin was going to do that anyways...and we correlate it to something else we’ve done at the same time. And the skin would do that anyways because cats can have either multiple sensitivities (i.e. it’s food AND something else in their environment), or it’s mostly an environmental sensitivity.
Or even better, first it’s the food doing it, but then they pick up some new sensitivity and your carefully laid plans don't work anymore - Now that is a cat thing!
So how to feed a sensitive cat? See if you can get a hypoallergenic cat food. Novel protein, good fats, can be lower in carbohydrates. Feed that for 6 weeks. I would probably be getting some fish oils in that diet too, which are a natural anti-inflammatory for the skin.
Make sure there is no yeast or residual bacteria that keeps the reaction going on her skin during your 6 week food trial. She reacts during the 6 weeks? Not a big deal. I want to know what happens over a long period of time. I want causation, not correlation.
Can’t find that in a commercial diet? Don’t worry. You don't need commercial diets, raw or barf. You can make your own hypoallergenic diet from normal, everyday grocery items, and feed it for 6 weeks. You just need a really good recipe.
I’ve never been grocery shopping in Turkey. I hope to do that one day!
I have two cats diagnosed with IBD. I like our internal medicine vet. They are getting prednisolone at 1/2 tab every other day. One cat is 17. The other is 7. The younger cat had been on a commercial raw chicken diet. He would not eat other types. He was eating this for at least three years before he started vomiting. The older cat has always been finicky about canned food. It seems the more expensive, the less she will eat it. I finally found Royal Canin Sensitive Stomach canned that they both eat. I don’t like the ingredient list (incl pork).
Our vet first suggested a limited ingredient canned but neither cat would eat what I bought (duck, rabbit, venison). Is this fairly typical with IBD? What more should we be doing? Neither cat is vomiting unless we miss a dose of the pill. Both cats also get duck and green pea dry food Natural Balance. Both cats also get a special treat of dehydrated chicken treats each night. The older cat goes crazy for these. Also, the older cat has kidney disease although it seems to be stable. She does drink a lot of water.
Your cats are the perfect cats to talk about because:
- Awesome attention to detail by owner. Check
- Refusal to change their ways and eat what they want only. Check.
- IBD. Check.
- Had prednisone at some time in their life. Check.
Those are cats!!!
Did you ever see the Steven Speilburg movie Hugo? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBg-TdpTCbw
Cat’s with IBD are like the “automaton” in Hugo (wikipedia - the word "automaton" is the latinization of the Greek αὐτόματον, "acting of one's own will").
Finding what works can be pulling the right intricate gears into place, but only once you've found the heart shape key.
What is going on with your guys is fairly normal. I see this all the time: Internal med specialist says go on novel protein hypoallergenic. You say, ok I’ll give it a try. But then your cat’s say no way, and the food gets thrown away.
It is important to see if food is their antigen. And the fact that they have been on chicken for many years does mean that chicken is high on the list of what they are sensitized too. That’s the story of IBD. It’s the stuff you eat all the time is what your immune system gets fed up with.
If you can’t get food to work at all, I don’t stress about it. Yes it's ideal if food can solve their issue, because it could lessen the need for medication, but I try to get their gut stabilized in other ways. Do they have intestinal bacterial overgrowth? Are they deficient in vitamin B12? Those are high on my priority list.
You want to try to strengthen what is already strong. That is an equally valid approach if food won't work.
The fact you can pill your cat spells great hope in providing them with other supplements!
Hi there, I am so glad Dr Kris understands feline lovers and is on board! Dr Kris, please can you advise me on alternative treatments for my Tonkinese who is 12.5 years old with Inflammatory bowel disease? He waxes and wanes and is on a low dose of prednisolone for the last 6 months, and I really want him to wean off that completely. Is there anything I can add to his supplements or daily regime as part of homeopathy? I have tried a good quality, grain free canned diet, thiamine supplements, probiotics and aromatherapy DIGEZE oil massages. He still very occasionally vomits and it breaks my heart every time. He is my loyal companion and confidante. Please advise. Is there a way I can consult you on line? Thank you so much.
Yes, there is more we can do for your Tonkinese.
First step? Get a fasted blood sample for Cobalamine / Folate / TLi at your vet clinic if you have not already. Find out what all those values are.
I'm not really concerned where the level falls according to what the lab considers normal. This is true for many things. I would want to know where the level is at relative to your cat’s history and clinical signs. This is going to help you further understand what his gut is going through, as IBD is an “umbrella term”. It’s a catch all, and we want to know more specifically the challenges he is facing.
If you are able to do that, write us back and let us know!
As a vet, has Dr. Kris heard anything about when the new treatment for FIP might become available?
For those who don't know, FIP is an awful disease of cats that's always fatal. Almost no progress in decades treating this.
And then along comes 3CLpro inhibitor. So there is potentially progress here. Finally.
But to my knowledge, there is no commercial version of this available. It’s still experimental.
Let’s cross our fingers…
So tonight, when I was feeding my cat, I gave her soft food. She’s prone to getting UTI’s, so our vet told us to feed her hard food in the morning with water added, and soft food at night with water added. She loves feeding time- she’s very food motivated. But for some reason, tonight, I fed her some soft food, and she’s turning her nose up at it. Whenever I walk by her tonight, she clutches my leg with her front paws, and meows up at me.
She’s very vocal tonight, and I know she’s hungry. I gave her a couple of pieces of hard food to see if she would eat that, and when I did, she chowed down on that.
Could there be a possibility that she’s tired of soft food now? Or she just doesn’t like the taste?
Kellie Smith (a reader) says:
I am not an expert but sometimes my cats just get bored with their food. The Brand Weruva is by far the brand my cats love the most! They have lots of flavors and I try to change it up. This brand is VERY high quality and human grade food. I would eat it if I had to lol I get it on amazon. Tuna/Mackerel is their fave!
Dr. Kris Says:
I like what Kellie said.
Sometimes you can change it up.
Here is the thing. Whenever you see something different, watch for these other things.
- Can I pee?
- Can I poop?
- Am I breathing funny?
- Is the rest of my personality ok?
- Did I puke or have diarrhea?
- Did I get into something?
- Do I not want to eat anything for more than a day?
- Am I hiding or grumpy?
If you see odd behaviour combined with any of those other things, then you act on that.
Sometimes, they just get bored though and you gotta change something up!