When we went over to my rescue friend to collect Dexi a few weeks ago we bumped into Howard. He’s an older chap who had arrived with her that day. To our knowledge he’d been living rough for some time (rumours suggest for 2-3 years, after his humans moved house and didn’t take him with them), but had come to more urgent attention just then as he had an abscess on his foot. He’d been to the vet earlier that day, had an antibiotic shot and been discharged with some metacam. He was sitting in a large crate looking sorry for himself, but still purring. This was Wednesday, I knew Skye was off to her new home on the Saturday, so offered for him to have her bedroom from the Sunday.
He duly arrived and settled himself in. Having eaten ravenously for a few days, I was told he had been off his food from that morning. We tried every sort of food possible and he wouldn’t eat. Then a day or two later he was eating ravenously, drinking enormous amounts of water, and peeing with his sights on a world record.
His first vet appointment confirmed that his abscess was healing nicely but his foot was swollen, and he had a temperature. There were also the concerns about fluid intake and fluctuating appetite. He complained a bit about Dr Fran poking his sore toe, and about where she put the thermometer … but on the whole he thought she was wonderful.
Then there was an anxious wait for blood tests. The first batch came through in a few days, revealing that he had anaemia and that there was a kidney problem – which we’d suspected because of his fluid consumption. A longer wait for results of FIV/FeLV tests. As an unneutered stray who had clearly been in fights Howard was a prime candidate for these viruses. [It’s hard to imagine Howard in a fight, he’s a sweet placid sort of chap. I’m sure it must have been the other cat who started it! I did offer for us to drive round the area he came from and see if we could spot the offending cat] Thankfully and amazingly the tests came back negative. So the next thing was a scan to see if anything sinister might be causing the problems. The various blood results suggested there might be something else going on. We decided to combine this with a little contraceptive advice, so Howard was in for the day at the vets. This was bliss for Howard … lots of lovely people fussing over him … though he has expressed a wish to pop back and check their “lost property” box at some stage.
Thankfully the scan didn’t show up anything awful … it was ‘just’ chronic kidney disease. He was told he’d need a special diet, lots of good quality food … just for him … which he was happy about. We went to see our friend Nic at Pet Company on the way back to the car. With the shop door safely locked he came out for a little snuggle. There are some lovely tasty sausages and treats on Nic’s counter. It was at that point that reality hit home – the special diet was ALL he was going to have … no sneaky nibbles of sausages. You can tell by the look on his face how pleased he was with this turn of events.
A few days on and we’re starting to get the hang of it. Ordered several different lots of specialist renal food. It’s tricky to tell whether the times he doesn’t eat it are because he doesn’t like it or whether its a spike in his kidney problems and he’s feeling rubbish and not wanting to eat. Have to say I’m impressed by Royal Canin renal food. They do a special palatability pack … with samples of different flavours, wet/dry food, different textures of wet food.
To be fair, Howard has also enjoyed Hills Science kidney diet pouches … but there’s something reassuring about having lots of different options in one big box to offer him.
Currently resurrecting nearly 40 year old memories of A level biology to understand what’s going on for him. Our vet nurses have been hugely helpful too. This book loaned by one of them is really useful … enough info for it to feel like I can start to get my head around just what is happening inside Howard … but still gentle and “cat mom” friendly. Definitely recommend.
Meanwhile, Howard is zoning out on the nip
No prizes for guessing who is most stressed about the diagnosis 😉