Recurring theme of kidney disease in my (young) cats

Inertia

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In March 2020, my 2 year old cat Tansy was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease. I was told her lifespan would be measured in weeks or months at the most. With the aid of my homeopath, I kept her going for 8 months but had to euthanize her in the October. I believed her condition was due to a congenital problem which I wrote about earlier this week.
Cat Has Involuntary Tremors/twitches When Relaxed

I felt the remaining kitty Willow was lonely (they were adopted together) so took on another rescue from a very bad background. She was called Phoenix because when they rescued her from a hoarding situation at about 7 months old with a litter of kittens, she weighed a mere1.2kg but survived despite the odds. When I adopted her from a foster situation in May 2021, she weighed 2.6kg and she rapidly put on another 800g under my care, but then gradually, the weight declined, imperceptibly until, to my shock, she was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease last week and I euthanized her 2 days later, not wanting to put her through any more than she had already suffered in her short life. I thought that her illness was due to the severe malnourishment she suffered as a kitten, but the vet insists not, since her blood and urine tests were supposedly normal last May. She believes there was some kind of acute injury to the kidneys in the last 6 months (infection for example) but I never saw any sign of such.

Today, feeling completely paranoid, I decided to take Willow (4 years) to be checked out just to put my mind at rest, only to be told she too has elevated GFR figures and appears to be in stage 1/2 kidney disease. The difficulty with her, although we have caught it a lot earlier is that she is already on a hypoallergenic diet, so putting her on a renal diet will quite likely upset her allergy. Managing her condition is not going to be easy at all. My vet cannot shed any light on the matter other than to say that we will never really know what is responsible and that I seem to have been very unlucky.

Of course, I am wracked with guilt. How could this happen? What am I doing to harm my cats? I do use pesticides in the garden, but try to make sure that the cats are well out of the way when I do so and that liquid products dry before the cats can be near them. My vet has also said that cats would generally avoid them. In any event, if my cats ingested even a small amount of pesticide, surely the effect would be pretty immediate and dramatic, as opposed to undetectable, long-term kidney damage? It has occurred to me that, for the first time in my 40 odd years of owning and loving cats, I am being rigorous about using tick and flea products containing selamectin and fipronil.

Does anyone know of instances where these ingredients have been known to damage kidneys over time? If I can't figure this out, I'm afraid that Willow will be my very last pet because I can't go on hurting the very creatures that I love so much and often are the only things that give my life purpose.
 

fionasmom

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Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease - Treatments for General Health Issues
From Tanya's site. She discusses that flea prevention is necessary for cats with kidney disease. A massive flea infestation leading to anemia is not a desireable thing either.
https://www.petsbest.com/blog/dangers-of-canine-flea-tick-medication-on-cats/
States that Advantage, Revolution, and Frontline are considered safe if the cat only product is used. It does mention brands in the first paragraph which have been linked to problems.

Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease - Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Cat
This is a very comprehensive site which deals with all aspects of kidney disease in cats.

I do use Advantage and Revolution, but not Revolution Plus. However, I don't use them year round as that works here in this climate. For some in other places, they are probably needed year round.

I am very sorry about Phoenix and understand that this is very traumatic for you. I hope that you can take some comfort in the fact that you rescued her from a miserable situation and gave her a loving home for as long as she was here. My Jamie was rescued by me at about 4 weeks old from the out of doors, clearly dying. We save him, but by age two he was dxed with kidney disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He is still here, sees vets regularly, not entirely cooperative about his diet though. I also wondered if his abandonment and starving condition caused any of this, but it can't be proven.

Pesticides seem to have a link to kidney disease, but there are other questions here such as amount of exposure over time, quantity ingested or absorbed, and it sounds as if you have taken precautions with the use of that. These cases with your cats could certainly all have been congenital.

Take a very proactive approach with Willow as much as you can given her hypoallergenic diet as her diagnosis is early. It might be worth seeing a specialist with her which is no reflection on your vet.
 

mrsgreenjeens

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I have had three kidney cats (so far), and like you felt like I must have done something wrong. One thing I did for my remaining cats was completely change their diets to not include any kibble, and I also changed their water from tap water to filtered water AND I add water to all their meals just to make sure they are well hydrated. Still I always worry that my current furries will be diagnosed with it as they are now the age that my other cats were when they were diagnosed :frown:

I ask myself if it could be something we use to clean the house with, something in our throw rugs, blankets, etc. Our cats are indoors only, and we only use pesticide outdoors, so I know it's not that. We also don't have any plants inside, and if I ever receive any fresh flowers, I give them to the neighbors because I don't want to take any chances. But there are so many chemicals out there used in everyday products, even our clothing, that can cause health issues that it's hard to know what's safe and what isn't.

Since Willow is on a special diet already, perhaps your Vet can work with you and prescribe phosphorus binders as needed rather than put her on a kidney diet. And now there are medications for use in kidney cats that weren't available when my cats were still alive that help keep it at bay. Definitely look at that website (Tanya's) mentioned above. It was my life-line.
 
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Inertia

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Thank you both for your responses and advice. All helpful and much appreciated. I am definitely going to ask my vet about medication options for Willow. She just gave me the bad news last night and said she would get back to me on why her USG is normal, SDMA is 21 and urine is alkaline. I am praying that she will tell me there is a UTI elevating the SDMA that can maybe be treated but I think it is a slim hope. The bad feeling in my stomach is not letting me off the hook at all.

While I am fairly sure that I never noticed any of my cats having an acute reaction to the pesticides I used, I am dreadfully afraid that, after lying around in the garden, they may have ingested minute doses over time through licking themselves etc that would have affected the kidneys slowly. I have lost all religious faith, but would be grateful for the prayers of anyone that might grant me some peace right now
 

mrsgreenjeens

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One of my current cats DID have a UTI which caused his SDMA and creatinine to rise above the norm, and once the UTI was taken care of, it did go back into normal range. I hope that is the case with Willow.

:vibes::vibes::vibes:
 

fionasmom

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We all know that pesticides can be dangerous. However, there is a huge difference between your cats having laid on your grass as opposed to, say, CA farmworkers who were working in fields when the planes containing the pesticides flew over and doused but them and the produce. I think that you are looking very hard for a reason, for which I don't blame you, but have hit on one small part of their lives which may have had nothing to do with this. I mentioned my Jamie earlier and despite his terrible early kittenhood, I can guarantee that he was never in contact at any point in his life with pesticides.
 
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Inertia

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One of my current cats DID have a UTI which caused his SDMA and creatinine to rise above the norm, and once the UTI was taken care of, it did go back into normal range. I hope that is the case with Willow.

:vibes::vibes::vibes:
I can't understand why my vet didn't automatically test the urine sample for infection. Instead, I now need to take Willow in on Monday for another urine sample. I'm not sure if the vet is just humoring me because I cannot accept her diagnosis at face value :confused:
 
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Inertia

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I think that you are looking very hard for a reason, for which I don't blame you, but have hit on one small part of their lives which may have had nothing to do with this.
Thank you. I really need all the support and kind words I can get right now 💐
 
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Inertia

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Willow had her urine test and ultrasound yesterday. Urine showed no signs of bacteria or sediment. The specialist who looked at her ultrasound today says her kidneys look normal with no sign of cysts, stones or scars. However, on further reading have come across something rather unhopeful:
"Although ultrasound is able to detect changes in chronic renal disease, it is not highly sensitive. Cats can have significant renal dysfunction without ultrasonographic signs of renal disease."

So I guess all I can hope is that in a month, we do the bloodwork again and hope the SDMA of 21 is lower. What I am trying to take from this is that there are no obvious signs of injury which, to my way of thinking, maybe conclusively lets me off the hook regarding pesticides, at least?
 

fionasmom

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The sentence you quoted is a disclaimer that prevents you from suing anyone in the unlikely event that something was not visible on the US or missed. It also reminds the client, and correctly, that an ultrasound is usually used to detect a mass and if there is no mass, it may not be as accurate as if there were. As far as they can see, Willow certainly did not have any masses or change of appearance in her organs (the other thing that a US can tell), so I would try to stop thinking about the pesticides and take this as good news.

I have always had some outdoor ferals on my property. They roam freely around the neighborhood and I am sure that they lie in grass and in flower beds where neighbors have used all kinds of herbicides and pesticides. Most have continued on for years in good health, barring accidents or other causes of death, some for over 10 years.
 
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Inertia

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The sentence you quoted is a disclaimer that prevents you from suing anyone in the unlikely event that something was not visible on the US or missed. It also reminds the client, and correctly, that an ultrasound is usually used to detect a mass and if there is no mass, it may not be as accurate as if there were. As far as they can see, Willow certainly did not have any masses or change of appearance in her organs (the other thing that a US can tell), so I would try to stop thinking about the pesticides and take this as good news.

I have always had some outdoor ferals on my property. They roam freely around the neighborhood and I am sure that they lie in grass and in flower beds where neighbors have used all kinds of herbicides and pesticides. Most have continued on for years in good health, barring accidents or other causes of death, some for over 10 years.
Thank you fionasmom. It IS positive news, so I will try to relax now and hope for the best in a month from now
 
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Inertia

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Am very grateful to be able to report that Willow had further blood tests yesterday and EVERYTHING is normal (from an SDMA of 21 down to 8!!). The vet is convinced that it is due to the diet, but the full story is far from simple. Firstly, she let slip that the person in her practice doing the lab work back in March has been taken off that duty - enough said. Also, I have done a lot more research and although the vet sent me the information on the IDEXX protocols for kidney disease, she actually did not completely follow those testing protocols with either of my cats. Had she done so, and if the lab results had been reliable, I am convinced that Phoenix would have been diagnosed with stage 2 kidney disease in June 2021 and I could have given her more quality time.

In Willow's case, I consulted with my homeopath. I have had multiple bad experiences with vets and he has helped my cats many times when the vet was at a loss. He diagnosed pancreatic parasites and traces of arsenic in her system impacting the kidneys and prescribed medication accordingly. When he re-evaluated her 2 weeks ago, he told me that there was considerable improvement in the kidney function and the blood tests bear that out.

Whether one believes in the efficacy of homeopathy and the diagnosis of pancreatic parasites is not really the issue (a veterinary friend says it's unlikely) but I wanted to share this information that I gleaned off the internet with you because I couldn't understand how she might have been exposed to arsenic:
I have been using Round-Up to kill weeds in the paving. The active ingredient, glyphosate, is reputedly safe for humans and animals although there is ongoing research regarding carcinogenic properties. What is not stipulated on the packaging, due to patent restraints, is the fact that the inert ingredients include heavy metals, among them lead and arsenic!!! These would have accumulated over time, thus potentially being ingested by Willow after walking on the paving and grooming herself. I am now using vinegar and dish soap to kill weeds.

I will be monitoring Willow closely once the homeopathic treatment is complete and plan to get another blood test done in 6 months or so (by a different vet)
 

fionasmom

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Thank you for letting us know that Willow is doing better! It is sad that there may have been two missteps at your vet's office. I wonder if the vet mentioned the dismissed tech in order to give you some degree of comfort that the test was not accurately processed.

Arsenic is all around us. If you google "arsenic in food" or "arsenic in the environment" you will read some fairly upsetting information. I would even venture to guess that your use of Round-Up may not be what caused Willow to absorb the arsenic. Here is hoping that Willow stays in good health.
 
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