Kidney disease, eating habits

njg55

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One of my cats was diagnosed with kidney disease last fall and is on the special diet of prescription foods. She's off and on about what and how much she'll eat, which I think is typical of cats with this condition. Right now she's in one of her phases where she eats very little. I have three different brands of wet food (Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Purina) and in the case of the SD and RC, more than one flavor or variety. I also have two brands of dried food, RC and SD. Today she has eaten very small amounts of one of the RC cans, and little or none of the dried food. She hasn't had much of an appetite for any of the foods the last few days. Another cat shares the same spaces and rarely hesitates to eat leftovers, so sometimes I"m not sure who has eaten what. However, today I know its the cat with the illness who isn't eating. I had the open can of the regular food for the other cat on the floor while I was watching Luna eat, and after eating a tiny bit of her own food she took a few bites or licks of that. Should I let her have more? I've read over and over that it's better to have them eat something/anything if they won't eat their special foods. I wouldn't let her have too much, but then I can't let her go hungry!

She is getting sub-q fluids (just did that earlier today) and also occasional Cerenia if she's been vomiting. I mix it in with one of the puree treats (she seems to be able to detect the crushed pill when mixed with some of the brands but not others, which means that in some cases she doesn't get the full amount.) She had a follow-up visit at the vet a few weeks ago. I don't have numbers, but whatever values they measure were slightly up, so I'm nervous about giving her the wrong foods while also being aware that she has to eat something. I've read the advice from Tanya's kidney disease website and may go shopping tomorrow for some things (see if I can find tuna in water with no sodium, the broth-style cat foods, etc.), or maybe cook an egg white or make some chicken broth. My cat has never been very interested in the baby food option, but I guess it's still worth a try. But basically, should I let her have a bit more of the regular cat food today?
 

mrsgreenjeens

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I've had three kidney cats and NONE of them ever ate the prescription kidney feeds. It's not that we didn't try it on them, they simple refused to eat them. So I went to the food listings on Tanya's site and tried to buy foods with the lowest phosphorus in them and just went down the list buying one can of each until I fond things they would eat. Of course, one day they would like them and the next day they wouldn't, and that's how it goes with kidney cats :sigh:. And by the time I got to the end of that food list, some of the foods were outrageously high in phos, but our Vet said "doesn't matter, the most important thing is that they eat". She thought that since they basically eat something different at every meal, it balanced itself out, since some foods were high in phos, while others were pretty low. And I often added in egg whites for protein.

Is your girl on appetite stimulants? That did seem to help. I also found it was better to feed many small meals throughout the day and night rather than just a few meals. (8 - 9 meals) And I added water to every meal. And our girl was also on Pepcid A/C vs Cerenia because all of her vomits were really that frothy stuff that is usually an indication of over acidity. We gave all her meds as either transdermal gels or injections so as not to stress her out.Also used a LOT of toppers on her food.
 
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njg55

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When Luna doesn't eat, it really upsets me because I don't want to lose her. I adopted her and her mom when they were about 4 and 5 years old (7 years ago), and Luna has already been through stomatitis (ending with full mouth extraction), eating problems that required a temporary feeding tube, etc. And now this. She has her good days and her bad days in terms of eating. She's not on an appetite stimulant right now since her "off days" aren't consistent. I think she's had Mirtazapine before for other conditions (I remember being advised by one vet that the transdermal was fine and by another that it didn't work and I should use another formulation—aargh). I don't think she needs it right now but I wouldn't hesitate to ask the vet if I can't get her eating more.
 
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njg55

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I'm still wrestling with trying to get Luna to eat her prescription foods. She is eating little or none of what I offered several times today, which is a Royal Canin canned variety that normally she likes; as far as i can tell, she hasn't eaten any dried food either. I have given her several kinds of treats just to get something in her (Inaba Churu, Fancy Feast broths, some vet-approved dried treats), and she will eat those. But of course those are no substitute for a more balanced diet, only a temporary measure until some kind of solution is found. I'll let her have some more from the opened pouch of the Fancy Feast broth/food later today, and also try opening a can of something besides the Royal Canin since I have two other brands of prescription diet food on hand. And since there's a little bit left of a non-kidney diet can I've been feeding to my other two cats today, I supposed I could let her try that. However, I'm seriously considering calling the vet about appetite stimulants. Or Luna may simply decide tomorrow that she's interested again in what I have to offer! Why do our kitties make things so tough on themselves, and on us?
 

FeebysOwner

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I know of no good vet that won't tell you that the best food for your cat is the ones that they will eat. It doesn't do any good in the long run if they are miserable with what they are offered for food and aren't getting enough calories in them. I am sure you already know that, but just had to say it anyway.
 
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njg55

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Thanks. It really puts us in a dilemma, wanting to feed them only the special foods that ideally will keep them healthy for longer, but forced to go against the recommended diet if the cats don't like it. I gave Luna the last few spoonfuls of the can of regular food; there wasn't enough to save for another meal for the other two cats anyway. At least she should be OK for now.
Many years ago I had a cat who had undiagnosed kidney disease; I didn't know it until he seemed "not himself" for a few days and took him to the vet. He died within a couple of days. That may have been an unusual situation, but I suspect that vets also have better diagnostic tools these days, and we, the cat owners, have more treatment options. We can't wave a magic wand and make the disease go away, but we have more reasons for hope.
 
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