Wellness testing for early detection.

Margret

TCS Member
Top Cat
Hi, Dr. Kris.  Thanks so much for doing this.

I lost my Sweet Thing over 20 years ago to kidney disease.  Naturally, I want to prevent it in Jasmine, who is now 3 years old.  She's a domestic longhair with, apparently, a lot of Maine Coon Cat in her recent gene pool.

I know that absolute prevention may or may not be possible, but the other thing is catching it early, as you've already pointed out.  Is there anything I should be asking my vet to check for at Jasmine's annual wellness exams?

Margret
 
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dr kris

TCS Member
Guest Expert
Hi Margret!

The fact that you are asking about wellness exams means you are already ahead of the curve when it comes to early detection of kidney (or other) issues. You are on the right path! For cat’s below the age of 5, who are healthy with no issues, I am usually beginning with their physical exam and discussing a wellness panel.

Bloodwork comes with normalcy ranges - that is, you take these numbers, and there is a range on the paper that suggests if something is too high or low. For CKD, we don’t always agree with the manufacturers of these tests. For the company I use (very reputable and high quality), even they underreport elevated kidney levels - meaning that at a quick cursory glance of  the bloodwork, kidneys might seem ok - but when look at the fine print (i.e. the actual numbers instead of the pretty colourful and visual indicators they print on the bloodwork) the level are too high.

 So when I talk with people, I am often referring to specific numbers. I want the creatinine below 140mmol/l (or 1.6mg/dL). If they are high normal (in the 130’s), then my interest is peaked and i want to know more of what’s up in there body.

So my advice is just to ask for specific numbers with anything to do with kidneys. This way, you are A) getting the most value in regards to your cats health, and B) getting the most value of what you are paying for.

PS - Jasmine sounds beautiful!

P.P.S - tell all your friends what you do if they have cats as well. that you do wellness bloodwork. Let them know that it exists (many people dont know);

k
 

zoneout

TCS Member
Super Cat
I found out the value of wellness blood/urine testing with my own cat.   Everytime I took her to the vet it was when she was sick natuarally.   Well at those times she was always severly dehydrated from vomiting.   It is my understanding that Kidney related values are nearly worthless when the patient is dehydrated.  Is this true?   If so, it would really have helped to have a baseline wellness panel to refer to in those cases I think.
 
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wasabipea

TCS Member
Alpha Cat
I'm also curious about this. In all honesty, I don't think my beloved Roni will be with us much longer - I'm giving her 2 weeks to a month - I'm accepting the stomach cancer diagnosis, seeing her decline. Do fluids help a cancer cat feel better? I was hell-bent on doing this at home, but with her condition now I may just stick with taking her to the vet for her fluids, she's getting very fragile and I think at this point the vet is the less stressful route for her since she is used to it.  Well... that's not what I was going to ask about.

I am going to meet a cat at a rescue facility tomorrow, some family dumped this girl at a shelter at 7 years old. They never get adopted at that age, and she looks like the biggest sweetheart. Provided all goes well with the meet and greet tomorrow, I'll adopt her when the time is right - no senior should live out the rest of their days in a shelter, especially when they used to have a family. That just breaks my heart.

Anyway, I talked to someone at the shelter staff and asked about her health. Of course they have no background but said that because of her age, they did get a vet exam with a blood panel (probably a mini panel that convered the basics) and got a clean and healthy report. Should this adoption work out if/when the time is right, I plan to do everything "right" when it comes to feeding and kidney disease prevention. I think her kidney values were in the normal range, I'll ask to see the results tomorrow.

Realistically, besides a high quality canned diet and pushing the water intake, and regular vet checkups... at 7.5 years (she has been there for 6 months already) - what can I do? If there is "hiding" damage, is it already done and just hasn't appeared yet in the blooodwork? Is there anything I can do besides the above to help prevent CKD in a cat with an extensive unknown diet/care history or neutralize any damage that was inflicted through spotty care early on?

Taking on a cat of that age is a gamble, but I can't let her just spend the rest of her days there. No, not an option for me.

Thank you (again) in advance.

-- Wendy
 
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zoneout

TCS Member
Super Cat
 
I'm also curious about this. In all honesty, I don't think my beloved Roni will be with us much longer - I'm giving her 2 weeks to a month - I'm accepting the stomach cancer diagnosis, seeing her decline. Do fluids help a cancer cat feel better? I was hell-bent on doing this at home, but with her condition now I may just stick with taking her to the vet for her fluids, she's getting very fragile and I think at this point the vet is the less stressful route for her since she is used to it.  Well... that's not what I was going to ask about.

I am going to meet a cat at a rescue facility tomorrow, some family dumped this girl at a shelter at 7 years old. They never get adopted at that age, and she looks like the biggest sweetheart. Provided all goes well with the meet and greet tomorrow, I'll adopt her when the time is right - no senior should live out the rest of their days in a shelter, especially when they used to have a family. That just breaks my heart.

Anyway, I talked to someone at the shelter staff and asked about her health. Of course they have no background but said that because of her age, they did get a vet exam with a blood panel (probably a mini panel that convered the basics) and got a clean and healthy report. Should this adoption work out if/when the time is right, I plan to do everything "right" when it comes to feeding and kidney disease prevention. I think her kidney values were in the normal range, I'll ask to see the results tomorrow.

Realistically, besides a high quality canned diet and pushing the water intake, and regular vet checkups... at 7.5 years (she has been there for 6 months already) - what can I do? If there is "hiding" damage, is it already done and just hasn't appeared yet in the blooodwork? Is there anything I can do besides the above to help prevent CKD in a cat with an extensive unknown diet/care history or neutralize any damage that was inflicted through spotty care early on?

Taking on a cat of that age is a gamble, but I can't let her just spend the rest of her days there. No, not an option for me.

Thank you (again) in advance.

-- Wendy
Wendy,

You can go back and read some of the posts from Dr Kris and browse thru Tanya`s CKD website to get more insight.   As I understand it from Dr Kris, CKD covers a whole gamut of possible disorders to the kidneys.   So while testing will reveal many of the problems, there are some that the tests, as they are today, cannot pick up on.   Dr Kris said these tests are improving all the time though so there is hope for the future.

The other thing is, with education, we can help a cat live well even with a chronic ailment.   Dr. Kris shows us how to do that in the video he provided on giving subQs for example.

You are asking what can you do to help a cat that `may` have had spotty care early on.    In other words, is CKD reversible?   I believe that is your question.   Unfortunately, I don`t believe it is from what I have read.   Otherwise everyone would be giving this miracle cure to their cats and CKD would be a rare disease.

What can you do to prevent further damage?   The answer to that lays in diet.   IMO, it is the unacceptably high usage of carbohydrate fillers by petfood makers that is the leading contributor to many of these illnesses.   Carbs are cheaper than meat protein (these companies want to make money foremost) - so look at a highly regarded food like Wellness canned pate for example - nice first 2 or 3 ingredients but then the next 5 or 6 are carb fillers (carrots, potatoes, peas, beets, sweet potatoes, etc).   When I look at Wellness pate, to me it looks more like a veggie mash than meat.   To me this is not optimal diet for a cat.

What is the best food you ask.   It is raw meat - commercial or homemade - either one.   There is an entire sub-forum on raw food here on TCS.  As well as websites like catnutrition.org.

Hope that helps.   And bless you for thinking about helping another cat in need.
 
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