Keeping an old kitty healthy

Share advice for keeping your aging cat happy and healthy

(Page 3 of 3: Viewing entries 21 to 29)  
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Delyte, Dark- Angel, at- Bridge

Me and my- person, together- against all
Purred: Thu Jan 26, '12 10:16pm PST 
This is Delyte. Thanks, Kaci!!

I thinhk some of the older people on the list might remember when pushing a kitten on a newly grieving cat owner was the common practice. But that was 40 years or more ago, and we thought that most vets believed in giving time to grieve nowadays. There are some places where there are too many backwards vets and doctors, apparently. [Our person's sister got some bad medical advice for herself, too.]

Purrs to all!


The Purr Machine
Purred: Sun Jan 29, '12 2:16pm PST 
Sunshine: You got Emily and Patricia mixed up. Emily was my first cat. She lived only 12 years.

After reading Emily's last vet bill - $594.50 - I decided the next cat will get health insurance. Of course, that was assuming my next cat is going to be a kitten.

Now Mom says we definitely are NOT getting a kitten, so I have to hope he or she does not need health insurance.


Silly girl
Purred: Mon Jan 30, '12 1:24pm PST 
You don't need to be a kitten to get health insurance. The premiums would understandably be higher for older cats, but realistically, you'll pay premiums for less years and older cats are more likely to get sick, so those are sort of 'equalizers'.

Beepers and I were 10 and 12 years old when we got insurance (about 16 months ago), but we were still in relatively good health. We've both had claims paid by that insurance and have received more back than the premiums paid in so far.

You just need to find a balance between what you want from insurance and what you're willing to pay to get it.

Edison The- Angel

With love from- Mommy: 1995 - 2013
Purred: Mon Jan 30, '12 1:38pm PST 
Wilbur, I agree with Merlin. The breakdown of a kitty's health has a lot to do with his age. Edison's 16 1/2 now, and I'm telling you, he was absolutely problem-free until he was 13. Then he was diagnosed with elevated kidney levels, elevated liver level - plus a benign tumor on his liver - and an over-active thyroid. He's on all sorts of meds - two for the kidneys, one for his liver, one for the thyroid, plus fish oil to help it all go down smoothly mixed into his food. And the vet's pleased with his progress - his levels have balanced out into the "good" column as long as I keep him on the meds. And he's my baby, so he's worth it. But yeah, that's just... time. That's just what happens when our furry little love-bugs get old. But it does sound like you did everything you could for your first kitty.

Plus, I try to have a sense of humor about it. If you're a fan of "The Office", I'm always reminded about the episode where Angela sends Dwight over to give her 22-year-old cat "Sprinkles" her daily meds:

Dwight: "So what do you need me to do?"

Angela: "I wrote it out. There's a diabetes shot, roll the insulin in your hand, don't shake it. She gets an ace inhibitor with her meal, but you have to put her right in front of the dish or she won't see it because of the cataracts. Mix one capsule of omega fatty acid in with her kidney medicine, um... and you want to give that to her 15 minutes after she's eaten. And, oh and there's a fungal cream because she has this infection under her tail, so you're gonna have to lift her tail and put the cream right at the base of her tail."

It helps me keep a sense of humor about the things I need to do for him to keep him healthy, as long as he's happy, and not in any pain and not suffering. big grin

Athena - could Edison please get an invite to your "Old Furts" group? Thanks!

Edited by author Mon Jan 30, '12 1:54pm PST


Edison The- Angel

With love from- Mommy: 1995 - 2013
Purred: Mon Jan 30, '12 2:00pm PST 
(Sorry, I haven't posted much around here, and I can't find the edit function on my post above!) I was just going to add, that yes, raw food or organic food is a great thing to do for them. I switched Edison over to organic about seven years ago, and even though he still wound up with the problems of old age, I'm sure it's better for him. I'm sorry your first kitty wouldn't eat anything else - they know what they like, and Edison's very choosy like that too. Sometimes I think I'm just lucky that he likes the organic brands! But like I said above, you obviously did all you could for your first kitty.

Gumpy Sweet- Boy

Love wrapped in- fur
Purred: Sun Feb 26, '12 10:50am PST 
I’m a little late here, but I want to say something about the discussion about kidney disease. I don’t competely agree with the idea that kidney disease is inevitable and simply the result of aging. I think age and genetics can be factors, but I now also believe that overvaccination, particularly of the common FVRCP (the “distemper” combo shot) is a big factor in cats developing kidney disease. I’m dealing with kidney issues with Gumpy now (still mild to moderate) and I’ve gotten clearer on the vaccine issue.

There is scientific evidence for this. Here’s a quote from littlebigcat.com, Dr. Jean Hofve’s site:

"Evidence is mounting that the common FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and paneleukopenia) vaccine may cause long-term damage to cats’ kidneys that increases with every booster. Here’s the report from Colorado State University:

The Center for Companion Animal Studies at Colorado State University has shown that cats vaccinated with FVRCP vaccines grown on Crandell-Rees Feline Kidney (CRFK) cell lines can develop antibodies to renal proteins, and that cats hypersensitized to CRFK cell lysates can develop interstitial nephritis…Cats administered FVRCP vaccines parenterally (by injection) have higher levels of circulating antibodies to these antigens than do cats who were administered a FVRCP vaccine for intranasal administration.

Similar antibodies have been implicated in the development of renal disease in humans, and there is every reason to suspect that they do the same in cats. Chronic renal failure (CRF), also called chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats is known to be caused by chronic interstitial nephritis, or inflammation of kidney tissue–the very thing that these vaccines cause."

Something to be aware of is that most vaccines have a much longer duration of immunity than the (even) every three years recommendation that is now the rec of the AAFP (no more than every three years is the current guideline). Most vaccines probably will provide lifelong immunity or much longer than three years. The top researcher in veterinary immunity, Dr. Ronald Schultz, confirms this and also says he only does one round of properly timed vaccines to his pets. Also panleukopenia (aka distemper) is a disease of young cats; older cats have natural immunity along with the immunity they receive with a round or two of vaccines (kitten vaccines need to be administered at the right time to be effective, and then it likely will provide very long immunity).

Here’s a link to a very informative video interview with Dr. Ronald Schultz .

I agree with Hanna, that you can’t always just trust what your vet says. You have to be a proactive and do your research on this and other topics. One of Gump’s previous “feline-only” vets gave him with booster vacs when he had a chronic disease and was a senior cat. His current vet feels that was “highly inappropriate”. Overall I’m not saying that cats shouldn’t be vaccinated, just that overvaccination is a big concern.

I know this is a controversial area and it can make people nervous to receive those post cards in the mail and to not go in every year for “shots”. It was confusing for me for a while, but I got clear on this issue and I feel comfortable with not doing any more booster shots - ESPECIALLY for an older cat (I may do titering for my younger cat). Rabies is a different story since it’s required by law, but there is a study going on right now to show that the duration of immunity of the rabies vaccine is at least seven years. Part of the reason for the study is to hopefully change the rabies laws to boosters being required every seven or at least every five years (see the Rabies Challenge Fund).

I think other factors can also affect kidney health. I think that chronic dehydration from dry food stresses the kidneys overtime, and urine acidifying additives in dry food also have an effect (most dry foods do have urine acidifiers in them). There is scientific evidence for urine acidifiers affecting kidney health (look at the article at the end of Max’s House Feline Nutrition for studies on this).

I also think that diseases like diabetes (which in most cases is related to diet) put additional stress on the kidneys, along with possibly medications which have to be processed by the kidneys (I believe most insulins contain preservatives which may also effect the kidneys over time).

One more point (sorry about the long post), I’m also concerned about overvaccination being a factor in other chronic diseases in cats, not just kidney disease. Hopefully there will be more studies and information about this in future, though studies are expensive and take time, and it also takes time to change standard practices, though more and more vets are thinking about the effects of overvaccination on pets.

I just wanted to share some thoughts on this topic of aging and kidney disease. I really don’t believe weakened kidneys are just due to aging. Perhaps cats can have longer lifespans; in the past humans had much shorter lifespans. Maybe if we stop overvaccinating, and feed better quality, more appropriate food, cats can live longer, healthier lives.

Purrs and best wishes...


The Old Lady
Purred: Fri Apr 13, '12 9:31am PST 
Wow Gumpy, that is really interesting stuff. Who would have guessed a vaccine many cats get annually can harm the kidneys?

When a vet told Mom the required rabies shot could be one or three years, she asked how many vaccines indoor-only cats need. The answer was only distemper, reason being it is an airborne virus so Emily could inhale it. I was told the FVRCP vaccine is only good for one year. That was during the 1990s, when only Emily and Patricia lived with me.

Years later I did not trust that vet with Wilbur because she saw major dental problems in a fat cat with allergies and did very little to help him. The new vet gave Patricia the one-year rabies vaccine. We fixed that the next year so she has been getting the three-year rabies vaccine ever since. But I heard no updates about the FVRCP vaccine and continued to believe it is an annual shot for all ages.

This would prove the genetic influence on kidney health, but Patricia used to love canned food, ate grain-free food when Wilbur needed it for his allergies (d/d rabbit and pea), and is eating real chicken now with Blue Buffalo senior cat food. So I was able to prevent CRF through diet because she has not eaten the grainy, junk-filled dry Science Diet since 2007. Unfortunately, since the move to Florida she has had no interest in wet food, so I always feed her the dry stuff.

Gumpy Sweet- Boy

Love wrapped in- fur
Purred: Sat Apr 14, '12 11:01am PST 
Hi Patricia, I’m glad you found this interesting. I think that it’s potentially very important research.

I actually want to update what I wrote up above. These studies at Colorado State University are still ongoing (have been since 2004/2005) and Dr. Lappin has not (YET) stated that there is a absolute, proven association with the FVRCP vaccine and the development of CKD, and while there appear to be strong associations, the research is not complete.

This is the most current update that I have been able to find regarding this important ongoing research: Click here for the link to 2011/2012 info

Something that Dr. Lappin now also says is that it’s not only the FVRCP vaccine, but potentially other vaccines that can induce these harmful antibodies that can potentially damage the kidneys:

“We have now determined that the 2 immunodominant CRFK antigens recognized by
feline antibodies are alpha enolase and annexin A2. Antibodies against these antigens have
been associated with autoimmune disorders in people. These antigens are in all mammalian
cell lines and so vaccines grown on any cells could potentially induce anti-alpha enolase or
annexin A2 antibodies.”

“Recently, we have shown that cats with azotemia (kidney disease) are more likely to have anti-enolase
antibodies in serum than normal cats when controlled for age (>10 years) and number of
vaccine events in the last 5 years. However, whether these antibodies were induced by
vaccination is still being studied. A general recommendation at this time would be to not use
parenteral vaccines grown on any cell line at an interval shorter than considered needed. In
addition, FVRCP antigens should not be split and given yearly as that may result in increased
exposure to the cell culture antigens.”

When he says a general recommendation is to ‘not give vaccines/boosters at an interval shorter than considered necessary’, that makes me feel like he thinks there is a solid link to renal disease in some cats (and he has also mentioned other idiopathic inflammatory diseases being linked as well, but the research apparently is focused on kidney disease - probably where inflammation can do the most harm, because kidney cells cannot be restored once they have been damaged.) Another point is that there are probably genetically strong individuals who still won’t develop CKD, and there are other factors related to this disease.

I have also read that Dr. Lappin is working on developing safer vaccines, and also working to develop easier tests (titers) to show the level of immunity cats have so that we can limit giving unnecessary and potentially damaging vaccines. This guy is doing a lot of great work for cats at CSU! And if you read the link above, he is not at all against vaccines, but I think we could all agree that safer vaccines and vaccines only being given when needed would be beneficial.

I don’t want this post to scare people about getting vaccines or boosters, but I want to share potentially important information; information that I wish I had been clear about years ago. My previous feline-only vet and other vets never discussed ANY issues about vaccines with me and didn’t follow the AAFP guideline of FVRCP vacs/boosters being given no more frequently than every three years (the AAFP guideline since 1998). And I know the situation with show cats, etc., is different, but maybe testing/titering will become more common and accepted to show that cats have immunity instead of just pumping them with vaccines/boosters based on a calendar.

Trust me, CKD is a difficult and often heartbreaking disease, and if I could have done anything to avoid it, I would have. We’ll see what the ongoing research shows, but whatever the case, I now know more about vaccines and that yearly vacs are generally not needed. I know this is a difficult area and people may feel nervous about not doing those yearly shots, but I just wanted to share some info which could be helpful.


The Old Lady
Purred: Sun Apr 15, '12 8:27pm PST 
Gumpy, usually what scares people off is the well-documented claims about the FVRCP or rabies shot causing cancer. I used to have a friend who assumed that caused her cat to get cancer so she never had any cats vaccinated after that. The problem with that is her cat had something like kidney cancer, not one of those on-site fibrosarcomas or whatever they're called.

I always believed it is stupid to not have your cat get the rabies shot every three years. Why would you want to risk the chance of your cat killing you? I will never understand why some states don't require that vaccine for all cats and dogs. But people who never lived in a state that requires the rabies shot seem to think because it is not the law where they live, it is not important.

In addition to showing and flying with cats, adopting another cat requires an update on vaccines that can be traced in its medical records. When I tried to adopt a brown tabby at the same shelter I got Emily at, the person Dad talked to rejected us because Emily got her vaccines at Petsmart the year before, so there was no documentation in her medical records she was up to date on shots (a requirement to adopt an additional pet when you already have one). So if a cat is already living with you, I don't care how old it is; it needs boosters for both FVRCP and rabies at a vet clinic less than a year before you adopt a new cat.

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