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Archive for the ‘Feline nutrition and health’ Category

So, your cat is diabetic and you’re wondering which insulin you should be using to get those nasty blood sugar levels down (hopefully permanently so your cat can be managed on diet alone!)

My personal preference is PZI (protamine zinc insulin).  It’s duration is a little over 12 hours, which works well for a twice-daily dosing schedule.  (We WANT some overlap between doses, so we’re not dealing with very high blood sugar levels caused by no insulin being in effect.)   Once my supply of PZI-Vet by Idexx is exhausted, I’ll use a compounded PZI by BCP or Veterinary Pharmacies of America (VPA).  I’ve used BCP-PZI before with success – I noticed no difference between it and the PZI-Vet (except the lower cost).  As I’ve noted in the past, PZI-Vet by Idexx has been discontinued but that does NOT mean PZI is not available!  Compounded PZI is still available for use.

Louie says PZI works for me!

Louie says "PZI works for me!"

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This post has actually been a work-in-progress for some time, but a phone call today pushed me to try and finish it. That phone call took place with the internal medicine specialist treating Studley. The specialist has diagnosed Studley with pancreatitis and IBD, based on an ultrasound performed Tuesday. Today he got back the results of Studley’s GI lab, and expressed some confusion that while he KNOWS Studley has IBD (based on the ultrasound results), his GI lab results (cobalamin and folate) were normal.

I do NOT generally openly disagree with most vets (to their face). I’ll express my opinions to my regular vet, who acts very open to my ideas and thoughts – but I’ve learned not to waste my time and breath on many vets who really don’t care what I think about anything. They just want me to do what I’m told. However, today for whatever reason I felt the need to tell this specialist my suspicions on why Studley’s results were normal. I told him I had worked with many cats with IBD, adopted and fostered, and I fed all my cats an “IBD friendly” diet. This diet had eliminated symptoms and normalized GI lab results for the other cats I’d worked with – and my thinking was, if Studley was fed this “IBD diet”, and it’s treated these other cats with IBD, it made sense to me that it’d also treated Studley, without my knowing he even had IBD.

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Another of the “frequently asked questions” I get is *which* canned food to feed. Well, in general the answer is simple – look for one with little-to-no grains, fruits, or vegetables. You want something as close to “mouse in a can” as possible. Poultry and/or rabbit is best – as these are closest to a cat’s natural prey. (Cats don’t naturally hunt, kill, and eat cows, sheep, fish, or swine – they do consume birds and rodents.)

Generally, there are compromises to be made.  Canned foods that contain higher-quality ingredients generally also contain higher amounts of vegetables and fruit, and are also generally higher in fat than the canned foods that use more byproducts and “meat” of undefined origin.  Personally, I don’t object too strongly to byproducts and lower-grade meat.  Cats would consume the entire carcass of their prey – they wouldn’t spit out the kidney, for example.  However, I do want SOME muscle meat in their food, and for some cats (particularly some with severe IBD), “meat” of undefined origin isn’t an option.  “Meat”, when the source isn’t identified, is most often beef or pork – and some cats don’t tolerate beef or pork.

Some people want a more specific list of brands and flavors. I’m always reluctant to do that, as brands and flavors change in ingredients and availability and I’d rather people learn to look at labels and exercise judgement. However, here’s a list of my current “favorites”. These are the canned foods I almost always have at my house, for my own adopted cats and fosters:

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Once again life has gotten in the way of my writing. Seems I’ve been doing a LOT of writing about Studley lately – and apparently Studley likes having the spotlight shown upon him as yet again he’s “inspired” a post.

It started on Saturday, pretty innocuously.  Studley didn’t eat breakfast.  At the time, I thought little of it.  I’d walked toward him to give him his pill, and he ran away.  When he didn’t come back and eat, I figured he was just nervous about pilling, and it wouldn’t hurt him to skip a meal.  (I did get him later, napping, for the medication.)

However, he seemed fairly lethargic throughout the day.  Around 4:00 p.m. he vomited.  By evening, he wasn’t interested in dinner and was drinking a lot of water (highly unusual, especially for a cat on an all-wet diet).  In fact, at one point, he just lay by the water dish with his head over it – and that was enough to convince me a visit to the emergency vet was warranted.
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People often ask me how I’ve managed to accumulate so much information on feline health and nutrition.  The answer is relatively simple – I READ, a LOT.  I read a lot of information on the internet, studies in journals, books, etc.  So, after sifting through countless websites and books and magazines, I’ve definitely got a few favorites.

My absolute favorite informational websites are listed among the “widgets” in the column to the right on the home page… particularly, FelineOutreach.org, CatInfo.org, CatNutrition.org, YourDiabeticCat.com, and FelineDiabetes.com.  (A majority of the resources/references in the Feline Outreach educational section has been collected by me, over time.)

But, if you are interested in real hard copy books made out of paper – I recommend:

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I feed my cats a homemade raw diet.  I think raw diets are the “gold standard” in feline diet.  However, I will state loudly and adamantly up front – I THINK CANNED FOODS ARE A PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE CHOICE!  However, there is NO DRY (KIBBLE) FOOD I deem acceptable.  I will occasionally use a freeze-dried food, freeze-dried treat, or dehydrated treat as a TREAT, but not a meal… and you have to be CERTAIN they are truly freeze-dried, air-dried, or dehydrated, not processed – as many food labels are deceptive.  Even if these items were ideal in every other way (low in carbohydrates, little-to-no veggies, fruit, grains, etc.) they are LACKING IN MOISTURE and that moisture is imperative to proper kidney and urinary tract health.

Doing it “right” does not mean it has to be difficult!  Personally, I buy a pre-ground meat/bone/organ product (Hare Today) and add a few supplements.  It is SIMPLE.   See the video below!
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I wrote earlier about my current medication frustrations.

They continue.

It’s become even more difficult to pill Studley. I took him to the vet yesterday (where he got a depomedrol steroid shot for suspected asthma). If the shot works, we’ll begin inhaled meds. In the meantime, his still on some pills for another (behavioral) issue. When I voiced my concerns at the vet yesterday, as I’m not sure the pills are even helping or necessary and incredibly difficult to give him, the vet needed to see for himself by prying Studley’s mouth open and popping down a piece of a treat. Well, sure, looked easy enough for him. In my defense, the vet didn’t have to CATCH him. I’d already chased him around the house to get him and put him in a carrier and transport him to the vet, and was holding him, docile, on the exam table.
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Obesity seems a rather fitting post-Thanksgiving subject, doesn’t it? However, in this case I’m talking about feline obesity.

Not coincidentally, recent research shows the most effective method of “normalizing” a cat’s weight is feeding a low-carbohydrate WET diet (canned or raw). Normalizing a cat’s weight means inducing weight loss or weight gain in order to achieve an ideal weight. So, this diet not only works best for those chubby kitties that need to lose weight – but also those skinny kitties that need to put on some weight (particularly muscle)!

I witnessed this myself first-hand with my cats, Omaha and Afer. When I adopted Omaha in 2003, he was morbidly obese at over 20 pounds (estimated ideal weight of 8 pounds).

Omaha at the shelter - over 20 pounds

Omaha at the shelter - over 20 pounds

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I’m not the world’s best “piller”, but I consider myself fairly adept at medicating cats. Not only have I had (and have) several cats with medical needs, but I also volunteered for a few years in a cat shelter’s clinic. I can pop a pill down an average cat’s throat. For your “more difficult” cat, I’ve learned most of the “tricks” – using a pill gun, “hiding” the pill in food, a bit of cheese, a bit of cream cheese, a bit of real mayonnaise, a soft treat…

You can get many, if not most, medications compounded into flavored liquids or even treats, which can make medicating the difficult cat a lot easier. Some medications can be compounded into transdermel gels you rub on the ear.

Pill Pockets are a handy little trick in the medicating bag. The ingredients make me cringe (corn syrup? pregelantized corn? wheat flour? wheat gluten? starch? soy protean?) However, they are relatively inexpensive, readily available, and easy to use. So, when I found out I’d be medicating my formerly-feral one-eyed wonder cat, Studley, I decided to go with Pill Pockets when cheese failed me. (Cheese “breaded” in freeze-dried turkey treat crumbs did work nicely, but I’m admittedly too lazy to prepare elaborate appetizers for my cat twice a day.)
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Kidney disease

Feline kidney disease, a.k.a. chronic renal failure (CRF), a.k.a. chronic renal insufficiency… a bit of a daunting topic for me to tackle in a quick lunchtime blog post, I’ll admit. However, I get asked about kidney disease a LOT, so I’m going to give it a stab.

Cause

First, I’ll say upfront I am CONVINCED that dry food leads to the preponderance of kidney disease )(and urinary tract disorders and other ailments) we see today.  I could kick myself when I think of the idiocy of treating my first older cat with CRF with sub-q fluids, all the while feeding her a DRY (kibble) diet.  Moisture is imperative for good kidney and urinary tract health.  While cats fed only dry food drink more water, they do not drink ENOUGH additional water.  Studies showed the dry fed cats’ urine was less dilute (contained less water).

Once kidney (renal) function is lost, generally it cannot be regained.  So, when I get a call, email, or post asking about a cat with renal insufficiency and whether the cat can be helped, I’m honest.  The progress of the failure can be slowed, maybe (optimistically) stopped, but what is lost is GONE and will not return.
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