When Kidney Failure Hits Close to Home

Ruby-The-Conscious-Cat

I never wanted to have to write this post.

Chronic Kidney Disease, also known as Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) is a common condition in cats. It is the result of a gradual decrease in kidney function. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had to deal with this disease with any of my previous cats.

Until now. Last week, Ruby was diagnosed with kidney disease, and sadly, it’s already in the advanced stages. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how my little girl could go from seemingly healthy to terminally ill in less than two months. It just goes to show how good cats are at hiding signs of illness, and how even an experienced cat parent like me can miss the signs (or, admittedly, be in a bit of denial about the signs).

Slowly appearing symptoms

At her most recent annual check up in August, everything looked good. Then, starting the beginning of September, her appetite started to drop off. Since this had been a previous occasional pattern with her, I chalked it up to “fussy eating,” even though I could hear my veterinarian’s voice in my head from when I had mentioned Ruby’s finickiness in the past. “There’s no such thing as a fussy eater,” says Dr. Andrea Tasi, a holistic veterinarian and owner of Just Cats, Naturally. “A healthy cat will eat her food with relish. There’s always a reason when a cat becomes finicky.” Ruby was eating, she just wasn’t finishing her meals.

Toward the end of September, I noticed her drinking more water. Before that, I’d rarely seen Ruby drink from the bowl. The girls both eat raw and the occasional canned food, and I mix additional water in with their meals, so she was getting plenty of moisture from her meals. Now, apparently, that wasn’t enough. Something had changed.

Diagnosis

Two weeks ago, Dr. Tasi came to my house to examine Ruby again. This time, one of her kidneys was slightly enlarged. That was not the case in August. We ran bloodwork to determine whether her kidney function was compromised, and if so, how much.

The next step to further clarify what was going on with her would be an ultrasound. The most likely causes for an enlarged kidney are a benign cyst, an infection, inflammation, or cancer.

I chose to decline, with the full support of Dr. Tasi. I previously wrote about the topic of diagnostic testing, and how one of the most important questions to ask yourself before agreeing to any test is “what will you do with the information from the test?”  In Ruby’s case, that meant: if there’s a growth or cyst on her kidney, it would most likely require surgical removal. If it looks like cancer, it would require a biopsy and possibly surgery and/or chemotherapy. And while surgery and chemo might be right for another cat, I know in my heart that they’re not right for Ruby.

Coping emotionally, and making treatment decisions

My heart felt like it was shattering into a million pieces when Dr. Tasi called with the bloodwork results. We expected to see elevated kidney values, given her symptoms, but we didn’t expect them to be as high as they were. I thought I had prepared myself, but while listening to Dr. Tasi, I broke down in tears. Ruby is only nine years old! The thought of losing my little girl, and losing her sooner rather than later, was incomprehensible.

Conventional treatment for kidney failure typically starts with rehydration via IV fluids, which would require hospitalization for at least two or three days. And while this may be right for another cat, I know in my heart that it wouldn’t be right for Ruby.

Treat the patient, not the lab values.

I am blessed that in Dr. Tasi, I have a vet who treats the patient, not the lab values. She is also one of my closest friends, so she not only knows Ruby, she also knows me really well. She understands the unique bond between me and Ruby. She has been a tremendous support both in treating Ruby holistically, and in supporting my decision to forego aggressive diagnostics and treatment, and to simply keep her happy and comfortable for as long as we can. Until we can’t anymore. And when that time comes, she will be gently eased out of this life, in my arms, in the comfort of her familiar home.

Ruby-tortoiseshell-cat

Ruby is feeling good

As of this writing, Ruby is feeling good. She’s still playful, she still cuddles with me, and she still aggravates her big sister. She’s still eating pretty well. I’m feeding multiple small meals, stretched out over a period of two or three hours, which is challenging, because I can’t leave the food down, or Allegra will eat it. But we’re working it out. Ruby is getting subcutaneous fluids once a day. I’m adding a phosphorus binder to her meals. I’m using the Assisi Loop. And of course, she is getting daily Reiki treatments from me.

Ruby doesn’t care that her lab values are a mess. She doesn’t think about how much time she might have left. All she wants is to be happy and loved. And that’s what she’s going to get, for as long as I can give it to her. I have little doubt that she will let me know when she’s done.

And while I have moments of profound sadness, and have shed more tears in the last few days than I have in a long time, I’m doing my best to focus on living in the moment and treasuring every minute I have with my baby girl.

Allegra has been a trouper through all of this. As those of you with multiple cats know, when one is sick, that cat tends to get all the attention, and the others take a little bit of a back seat. She clearly knows something is wrong with Ruby, and I think in her own way, she is holding the space for Ruby. Somehow, the three of us will get through this.

I realize that the decisions I’m making about Ruby’s treatment may not be the decisions you might make for your cats in a similar situation. I ask that you respect my choices.  We are in the best possible hands with Dr. Tasi. We have explored all treatment options, and we’ve chosen the ones that are best for Ruby, for Allegra, and for me.

To me, the most important thing is to not just take care of Ruby’s medical needs, but to honor her unique spirit in every decision I make about her care.

122 Comments on When Kidney Failure Hits Close to Home

  1. Alice
    October 24, 2019 at 5:43 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, I’m so sorry to hear that sad news. I know exactly how you feel because I went through a similar ordeal with my first kitty Abby when she was 12, 9 of those years with me. She was a beautiful doll-face Persian I had found in a local Humane Society shelter and couldn’t adopt fast enough!! We had such a close bond, I had no idea cats could be so loving and sweet, but she was. Like you I didn’t notice anything wrong until she slowed down and then stopped eating, which was only over about 3 days. I tried everything to save her over the next 10 days, but it was too late. She crossed the Bridge in my arms on a miserably sleety April day, and I buried her in my back yard. Like you I cried so much during that time, and I also tried the subcutaneous fluids, but she was too far gone to help. She had lost so much weight in such a short time because she wasn’t eating or drinking at all. It was a mercy to help her pass. My heart is breaking just thinking about her, and about what you’re going through now. But, and I don’t mean to be preachy, but I prayed for strength and it was given.

    Reply
  2. Lilo Huhle-Poelzl
    October 24, 2019 at 4:49 pm (10 months ago)

    I just thought of something else: Not only does our very vocal Hyaene drink a lot more when getting fresh drinking water every few hours rather than only once daily, other cats will, too.

    I just noticed this yesterday with Creamer (the oldest cat we just adopted from our stroke-stricken pet-sitter). She had (daily) fresh water in our LR (where we keep our newly adopted cats). When the door to the kitchen, where Hyaene had just demanded and received fresh water, was accidentally left open, Creamer sneaked into the kitchen (even though the kitchen was populated by several of our other cats who are not particularly friendly to newcomers) and drank until the dish was empty; that is, she drank an astonishingly huge amount of water.

    After this observation, we’ll now supply all of our old cats (with can be assumed to have declining kidneys), wherever they are, with fresh water, more than once a day.

    Since we all know how important it is for cats with declining kidneys to drink lots of water, this measure may be well worth it. It takes little effort, costs no money, and pleases the cats.

    Reply
  3. Julie
    October 24, 2019 at 2:48 pm (10 months ago)

    Our cat had CRF for almost 6 years. During her final two years we gave her IV fluids at home every night. It sounds like a lot but, it only took a few minutes per day and was not a big deal to her. 2 weeks before she died, she was still running all over the house and hiding from me in the bathtub so she could pounce me. Don’t give up hope. Every cat is different and kidney disease is not the instant death sentence I initially thought it was. Our girl was diagnosed at 12 and lived to be 18. Don’t throw in the towel.

    Reply
    • Julie
      October 24, 2019 at 2:55 pm (10 months ago)

      I should have said, “Don’t give up hope just yet” not “Don’t throw in the towel”. When our cat got her diagnosis I cried for days and had basically planned her funeral in my head (not a literal funeral). I’m so sorry about your sweet baby. It is so hard.

      Reply
  4. Stephanie B
    October 24, 2019 at 10:36 am (10 months ago)

    Prayers for Ruby. I hope her treatment helps with her being comfortable during this medically sensitive time.

    Reply
  5. Ingrid
    October 24, 2019 at 5:08 am (10 months ago)

    Thank you each and every one of you for all your love and support, and for sharing your own stories. My heart goes out to those of you who have been down this road, or are currently dealing with this. It means so much to know that I’m not alone on this journey.

    I knew Ruby had a lot of fans, but I don’t think I really knew until today just how loved she is by so many. She sends purrs of gratitude to each and every one of you!

    Reply
    • Jackie Pasquini
      October 24, 2019 at 4:55 pm (10 months ago)

      We love all of you and you, Ruby and Allegra have out love, prayers and good wishes always…xoxox

      Reply
  6. Mia Dravis
    October 24, 2019 at 1:41 am (10 months ago)

    Praying for Ruby and your whole family!

    Reply
  7. Laura Parker
    October 24, 2019 at 1:20 am (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, I’m so very sorry to hear this sad news. Sending love

    Reply
  8. Marianne
    October 24, 2019 at 12:13 am (10 months ago)

    Love is measured not in terms of time but in quality…the quality of the perfect life that Ruby has been gifted by you and Allegra. Those nine years that Ruby has shared with you and her sister are like a thousand in her eyes and she will take those memories and that love with her. My favorite poet, e. e. cummings, summed it up best for me, having gone through this heartbreak too many times: “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart).” May you be at peace about this.

    Reply
  9. Denise
    October 23, 2019 at 11:20 pm (10 months ago)

    I was crying as I read this. I am so sorry beautiful Ruby is so sick. I love their stories and life. My heart is with you throughout this. Love to you all❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  10. mountainkiddo
    October 23, 2019 at 11:18 pm (10 months ago)

    This IS very sad news. And looks like you have most under control.

    One last suggestion – feed her whatever she wants! Like human tuna, or turkey or a chunk of fish. As you well know, eating is the most important treatment.

    Reply
  11. Jamie Kidwell
    October 23, 2019 at 11:11 pm (10 months ago)

    I can’t say enough good things about Tanya’s website, http://www.felinecrf.org (Tanya is the cat it’s dedicated to.) I’ve learned so much from it, and not just about kidney disease. I urge anyone who is active in their cat’s health care decisions to check it out. There is tons of information, everything from best practices for prevention, to saying goodbye. Ingrid, you may have more time left with Ruby than you realize!

    Reply
    • DENNIS MORAN
      October 24, 2019 at 9:13 am (10 months ago)

      I WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERYONE FOR THEIR COMMENTS TO INGRID ON HER BELOVED RUBIES CONDITION. MY BOY ZORRO HAS EARLY STAGE CRF. I HAVE GOTTEN SO MUCH INSIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE FROM YOUR COMMENTS, ONCE AGAIN I THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR KINDNESS AND CARING.

      Reply
  12. Abby Frank
    October 23, 2019 at 11:04 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m just one of many of your readers who want to offer my prayers and best wishes for Ruby, you, and Allegra. I’ve been through what you’re going through and there is comfort in knowing you’re doing what you believe is the best for Ruby. We are all pulling for you and hope you have many wonderful times with Ruby…and Allegra. All my best to you all!

    Reply
  13. Diana Birchall
    October 23, 2019 at 10:57 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m so sorry to hear about sweet little “Ruby Tuesday.” I hope she still does better than you think. If my three tortie girls were sick, I’d treat them as you are doing. A neighbor put her cat through tough cancer treatments for two years and it wasn’t a life. Keep Ruby comfortable and give her lots of love – that’s the treatment she wants!

    Reply
  14. LP
    October 23, 2019 at 10:48 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m sorry to hear about Ruby and glad that she is still enjoying life. The time with her is a treasure. I don’t know if this fits with treatment plans, but just a suggestion to consider. My neighbor had a small dog who was in renal failure, and deciding they had nothing to lose, started her on CBD oil. She improved and had another year of quality life that she would not have had otherwise.

    Reply
  15. Nancy Wagner
    October 23, 2019 at 10:39 pm (10 months ago)

    Literally going through this same situation as of 3 days ago. The situation is heartbreaking – but how we choose to manage it feels empowering … until the emotional reality continues to intrude. I wish I had words enough to comfort you … and myself. I’m working hard to keep emotions at bay so I can do what’s in the best interest both of my Titi, Sam her brother + myself and my husband, their (to his surprise) emotional cat dad. Oh how we love them … enough to keep them safe and comfortable … until we can’t. Prayers for strength and comfort to you, Ingrid. You’ve given so much of both to so many here. xoxo

    Reply
  16. Evelyn Cleveland
    October 23, 2019 at 10:23 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m so sorry about Ruby! My sweet boy passed away 2 weeks ago from cancer,
    and I am so heartbroken. He was 15 years old, and I had him since he was 12 weeks old. It seems that no matter long they live, it is never long enough. Will be praying for peace and comfort for you, Ruby and Alegra.

    Reply
  17. Cathy Keisha
    October 23, 2019 at 9:53 pm (10 months ago)

    Sending healing purrz to Ruby. I’ve been a fussy eater all my life. One day I’ll binge (clean my breakfast, lunch and dinner bowls) and the next I’ll pick. We respect your decisions and would do the same. TW doesn’t believe in putting a cat through hell and back when quality of life is the most important thing.

    Reply
  18. Amy Allen
    October 23, 2019 at 8:58 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, my heart goes out to you and Ruby. You are a great cat mommy and you know best what can help your baby.

    Last week, I allowed my boy, Moo, to escape his body. He was almost 16; I adopted him when he was 6. He had hyperthyroidism along with kidney problems, and according to both vets that I contacted, a 3 day stay in the hospital could have temporarily helped him, but I knew that Moo would have felt abandoned. I had been giving him Methamazole 5 mg, twice daily, along with Thyro Drops and Lyphophytum Leandri. The latter 2 meds were recommended by Dr Marty Goldstein,, a well-known integrative vet who had also helped Moo in the past when he had intestinal lymphoma.
    Dr Marty had also recommended other supplements. I tried to give Moo as much as I could without overwhelming him.

    I felt that Moo was doing better, even though he had lost a lot of weight, and was drinking and urinating a lot.

    Moo suddenly seemed a lot worse last week. He wouldn’t eat and he didn’t want to drink as much..
    He wanted to stay in his carrier. His regular vet gave him subcutaneous liquids with vitamins. That afternoon, I took Moo to a holistic vet who ran full bloodwork on him. The following day, Wednesday Oct 16, I noticed that Moo was breathing through his mouth and could hardly meow. I took Moo back to my original vet and she gave Moo more fluids. She also spoke with the holistic vet. According to an X-ray, his lungs were also problematic. Due to his blood counts, both vets agreed that my boy was not going to improve. I painfully agreed to euthanasia. Moo, who was naturally very feisty with vets, was very submissive. Through my tears I could see that he was relaxed. His passage was quick and peaceful, as I was holding and kissing him.

    Reply
  19. LUCY
    October 23, 2019 at 8:56 pm (10 months ago)

    INGRID. SO SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT RUBY’S ILLNESS . MY HEART GOES TO YOU RUBY, AND ALLEGRA. I PRAY GOD GIVE YOU STRENGTH, AND GIDE YOU IN THIS DIFFICULT TIME.MY PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU, RUBY, AND ALLEGRA.

    Reply
  20. Jane Todaro
    October 23, 2019 at 8:55 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid,
    I’m deeply sorry to hear about Ruby’s illness. I know you two deeply love each other, and I know you will do what’s best for her. Know that you have many people hoping and praying for you.
    My kitty Jake and I send you our loving wishes.

    Jane

    Reply
  21. Diana Morgan
    October 23, 2019 at 8:31 pm (10 months ago)

    I am so very sorry to read such awful news. One of my fosters — the sweetest boy — passed at about the same age to kidney disease. I hope you and Allegra both get quality time with your little girl.

    Reply
  22. Andrea
    October 23, 2019 at 8:10 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m sorry to hear about Ruby’s diagnosis but I hope you remember that kidney disease does not mean an immediate death sentence. I’m confident that with your loving care Ruby will still have much more quality time with you.

    Reply
  23. ellen beck
    October 23, 2019 at 7:28 pm (10 months ago)

    My thoughts are with your family and with Ruby and of course Allegra.
    We had 5 cats the beginning of the year and are down to three. All but one are very much seniors. I had typed how it was with our two, but I want to say mostly how much we miss them. I know the other cats miss them too. Our remaining cats are our last.. we are older ourselves now
    I hope your time with Ruby is filled with purrs and smiles . Your decisions will be guided by love and Ruby knows this.

    Reply
    • DENNIS J MORAN
      October 24, 2019 at 8:20 am (10 months ago)

      HI I SAW YOU COMMENT . DUE TO YOUR AGE. YOUR THREE CATS ARE YOUR LAST. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD FOUR CATS. AND AS ONE HAS PASSED I GOT ANOTHER. BEING IN MY SIXTIES NOW AND HAVING LOST ONE IN EACH OF THE LAST THREE YEARS. THE HEART ACHE WAS GETTING TOO MUCH FOR ME. THEN ONLINE I SAW A SENIOR CAT FOR ADOPTION. AND THAT WAS IT FOR ME. I GOT 1 SENIOR CAT EACH YEAR. 15 15 AND 16 YEARS OF AGE. ALL WITH SOME PROBLEMS. I KNOW THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF TIME LEFT. BUT I WILL MAKE IT THEIR BEST TIME. AND I BELIEVE NOT RAISING THEM FROM YOUNGSTERS. IT MIGHT LESSEN THE GRIEF WHEN THEY PASS.

      Reply
  24. Ellen
    October 23, 2019 at 6:48 pm (10 months ago)

    I am so sorry to hear about Ruby’s diagnosis.You wrote such a lovely note about this. Very moving. I have lost my first, dear cat to this. We, myself, and my 2 kitties will be thinking about you all and praying. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  25. Bernadette
    October 23, 2019 at 5:05 pm (10 months ago)

    I am so sorry, she is so young, this diagnosis is so hard to accept after all the innovations you’ve done with their diets and lifestyle. My vet too treats the cat and not the tests and we’ve been through many cats together. I hope the holistic treatments you are giving her allow her comfort for a good long time. We’ll be thinking of you and Ruby and purring for your comfort.

    Reply
  26. Mary McNeil
    October 23, 2019 at 5:03 pm (10 months ago)

    We have just embarked on this journey with our Oscar, 11 years old. We send purrayers and POTP to all who are – or have – traveling this road. And especially our beloved fur kids.

    Reply
  27. Cheri Collins
    October 23, 2019 at 5:02 pm (10 months ago)

    My heart is with you.
    I’ve had two cats with CKD. Both gone now but neither died of it. Momo had a stroke and lost the use of a back leg ,and since he had gone blind and already told me, twice, he was tired and ready to go, it was time. He didn’t mind going to the vet’s — he was such a sweetheart and such an easy patient, the vet techs loved him. One put a pillow on the table for him, one cried while he went. But he was comfortable and I stroked him his favorite way all the while.
    Boo was the feline love of my life. He started life feral and I spent nearly a year making friends with him before he decided it might be alright to sleep in the kitchen near the door. 13 years later he died at home, on his favorite place on our bed, while I was with him, of CHF.
    Tanya’s — book and website and support group — was valuable support for me, as it has been to others who’ve discovered it. I learned a very great deal from Helen and the others who were caring for cats with CKD. I added a phosphorus binder to the food they liked. I learned to give SQ fluids. I learned something which has been very useful with every cat since: when done doing something the cat does not like, I say “all done.” I say it with emphasis, maybe two or 3 times, and move away. I have a younger cat now who was rescued from a feral colony and does not like to be handled in any way. Letting her know we’re All Done helps her a lot to accept what I’ve done and not feel she has to run from me.
    And I learned to put clean bowls of fresh water all over the house — bedroom, living room (two) and bathroom. Everywhere except next to food in the kitchen — water next to food will get too dirty very quickly. Stoneware is a clear favorite; a stoneware bowl keeps the water cool longer. The 16 yr old rescued (for years all the cats in my life have been rescued) cat who lives with me now has hyperthyroidism and her kidneys are failing secondarily to that. She’s on medication for her thyroid. And loves to drink fresh water from a clean bowl everywhere she finds it. When she goes by a bowl of fresh water she stops, as if she’s thinking, ‘oh water, how nice!’ and drinks. She particularly likes water with an ice cube or 2 in it (in any weather).
    Her CKD is in good control.
    My downstairs neighbor has a cat who’s about 10 now and I’ve known him and cared for him since he was a kitten. He’s very, very particular about his water being fresh; used to ask me to turn on the faucet to drink from. I gave him a fountain. His human reports he loves it and goes to it often.
    All of this is not because I think you need it, Ingrid. But in hopes others living with cats with CKD who may not have a vet like yours and mine might find some help. There are a number of theories about why so many cats are developing CKD. The easiest one for me to subscribe to is the water question. Cats evolved in the desert, we’re reminded, where there weren’t streams or pools to drink from. They got their water from fresh kill; blood = water. Now our cats don’t have an adequate thirst drive. But they can be enticed to drink more.
    I haven’t seen CKD start and advance abruptly and rapidly. I know you will keep Ruby comfortable. I echo the reminder already mentioned: cats live in the present. Try to stay there with her. Hugs to you both.

    Reply
  28. Bridget
    October 23, 2019 at 4:32 pm (10 months ago)

    My Mantra was “today is not the day!” It was probably the only thing to kick me out of bed in the morning. I fought for my JD; we did the IV, I researched and bought low phosphorous ‘good’ food, (I think at one time I counted 14 opened cans in the refrigerator) and there were the anti-nausea meds and a whole host of other related things. Our alone time consisted of taking a walk around the outside of the house. If he turned the corner, he’d sit down and wait for me to catch up. One day, it WAS ‘today’. We took our walk and half way through he just laid down and told me he was done.
    That was 10 years ago and I still miss him terribly. He was ‘my’ cat.
    I wish you and Ruby many happy times to remember.

    Reply
  29. Mary Mazowiecki
    October 23, 2019 at 4:27 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m so sorry!! I wish there was something I could say to make everything better. I’ll keeep you all in my prayers.

    Reply
  30. Kara Minnema
    October 23, 2019 at 4:20 pm (10 months ago)

    I’m so sorry to hear about Ruby. You’re a wonderful pet parent. Both Ruby and Allegra know that you love them and will do what’s best for them and for you. Prayers and hugs for all of you.

    Reply
  31. Kat
    October 23, 2019 at 4:10 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, please know many hearts are with you, Ruby and Allegra….its so sad, I’ve certainly enjoyed y’all’s posts and pictures! give them an extra hug from me and I’m glad you are sure about what you’re doing is best for Ruby. its so hard to know, and we constantly second guess ourselves…you know…what if I did/didnt do this, and so on. I had a tortie also, Missy, who died 2 yrs ago. she got a lump on cheek, it kept growing, found it was cancer….they wanted to put her thru radiation/chemo but being 12, I couldn’t see doing it. so like you, we gave her the best love, care etc we could til the last, and let her go….it tore my husband apart, he cried like a baby, it was his girl…..I have no regrets in my choice, just miss her still. so God bless you all, stay close, love each other as much as possible until there is no more. and know that all of our hearts, love and blessings will be with you as you go thru this heartache…….you, Ruby and Allegra have many, many friends and people who care….

    Reply
  32. Lilo Huhle-Poelzl
    October 23, 2019 at 3:39 pm (10 months ago)

    Hi, Ingrid,

    So sorry to hear about Ruby. I haven’t got much time to write. Our long-time petsitter, friend, and tenant had a massive stroke 2 weeks ago. So now, instead of a badly needed petsitter, we have 7 more cats and an old problem dog. Yet I want to tell you briefly about our experience with kidney disease:

    Sunshine, my husband’s, then, favorite cat, was put on a kidney diet, right after being diagnosed. Improved considerably. After 9 months, my husband considered her cured; so he became lax with her diet. Sunshine relapsed and died within 3 months.

    Sassy was was also put on a kidney diet when diagnosed, but went on strike. Refused to eat the diet food. Was returned to normal food. Lived happily another 2 years. (Our, then, new vet had told us that a cat refusing kidney diet runs less risk with normal food than with not eating enough.)

    Goldilocks was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease when reported to have been drinking excessively ever since we had adopted her, a few years earlier. At the same time of her kidney diagnosis, Goldilocks was also found to have a huge tumor (believed to be cancer) in her stomach. She was kept on normal food and was given Essiac tea (for her tumor). She almost died when a negligent petsitter did not renew the drinking water every day but just filled up what was missing. She recovered when we were back home. Goldilocks lived happily for 2 more years after being diagnosed with the tumor and receiving Essiac tea for it. She eventually died peacefully (and assumedly pain-free) of old age, not showing any symptoms of a typical kidney death or cancer death.

    Lucky Mama was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease, when she went blind (kidney-caused), was kept on normal food, and had to be euthanized when she became sick (kidney-caused?), 1 year after going blind.

    Our Hyaene (19 years old), a torti (and one of our favorite cats), who has always been drinking a lot and insisting that the water was very fresh (that is, no older than 2 hours), has been diagnosed with kidney disease a few months ago. She was also diagnosed with a tumor near her gall duct, for which she is now receiving Essiac tea. Hyaene, who has been half-blind for quite some time (probably kidney-caused), had gone missing from our (wildfire-safe) summer residence, last June. Was found 4 days later, emerging from a neighbor’s crawl space, where she, most likely, had no water. We thought she’d never stop drinking when we got her home. Hyaene had caught cold while missing. The respiratory infection did not respond to the 1st antibiotic. She already sat death on the shovel, when she finally responded to the 2nd antibiotic. Luckily, Hyaene fully recovered, gets Essiac tea, and complains very vocally when the quality of her drinking water does not meet her expectation, that is, when it is more than 2 hours old.

    We had more cats with kidney disease, as most of our cats lived to age 16 to 22, and when arrived at age 15, you can expect kidney disease. I do not have too much recollection of these other cases. The only cat who we had ever on kidney diet for any length of time was Sunshine, as it is very difficult to feed a cat diet food in a multi-cat household.

    If we only had 2 or 3 cats, we would put a kidney-disease cat on diet food and see if he or she is content with it. (Our Sunshine ate it but clearly preferred normal food.) If the cat did not like it, we would not enforce it. We think it is more important for a cat (and also for a human) to have a happy life than a long life.

    Yes, out petsitter ate a really bad diet, which probably caused her stroke (while she is only 62 years old). I don’t eat an all-healthy diet either (that is, I eat lots of veggies and raw salads but also lots of sweets). After our pet-sitter’s doom, I’ll try to cut down on sweets, but I don’t want to forgo all goodies. So if I choose a probably somewhat shorter life with enjoying my food to a probably somewhat longer life with a not-so-enjoyable all-healthy diet, why would I wish to treat our beloved cats differently?

    Wishing you and your beloved cats the very best,

    Lilo

    Reply
    • Kat
      October 23, 2019 at 3:57 pm (10 months ago)

      wow, Lilo, sounds like you’ve had your share! how do you give your cats the tea and where do you get it? I read about it years ago but never for cats!
      thanks for the info,

      Reply
  33. Eleanor Skibo
    October 23, 2019 at 3:10 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, what can I say, only that I’ll pray for all 3 of you. And to my shiny jewel of a girl, Ruby, you’ll be fine and you’ll always be well enough to torment your big sister, Allegra. And to my Allegra, I know you’ll be strong for both Mom & Ruby. I send love, hugs and cat kisses to all three of you. Ingrid, I’ll be thinking of you each day. G d Bless!

    Reply
  34. Christine Rule
    October 23, 2019 at 3:09 pm (10 months ago)

    Oh, Ingrid, I am so sorry! Ruby is way too young for this! I know it doesn’t help, but I (and many others, I imagine) share your sadness. And I fully support your (and Ruby’s) decisions. I pray that all goes as easily as possible for the three of you. Please do keep us posted as you can.

    Reply
  35. Tammy Banks
    October 23, 2019 at 2:32 pm (10 months ago)

    Oh, Ingrid. I am thinking of you and Ruby and sending Reiki. And I understand and commend your decisions. They’re the ones that I made for Rory under similar circumstances many years ago.

    Reply
  36. Jackie Pasquini
    October 23, 2019 at 2:27 pm (10 months ago)

    Oh Ingrid!!! I am so sorry to read about Ruiby’s kidney diagnosis. I will say I was shocked as I was reading your post. I totally agree with all that you are doing for Ruby and I am sure she loves you for not doing invasive testing etc. The loop will help of course! I hope and pray that she has years of quality life with you and Allegra….Love, hugs and prayers xoxox

    Reply
  37. Tamara Terry
    October 23, 2019 at 2:21 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Ruby’s diagnosis of CRF. We’ve been independently rescuing feral cats for well over 15 years and instead of TNR (trap, neuter and return)..we have done TNK (trap, neuter and keep or adopt out).

    At one time (just late 2012), we had 38 kitties and many were former feral tomcats with FIV+ and Remington, Tyler, O’Malley all died from intestinal lymphoma that came on all of a sudden. Buddy Bear and Casper died from CRF. Rocky Balboa (FIV+) and almost 13 years old from “saddle thrombosis.” Those were all former feral FIV+ tomcats.

    Now, in the past 3 months and a few weeks, we have lost FOUR cats and all of them were being seen by the vet. Now, O’Malley (16 years old, FIV+, diagnosed with CRF on July 30, 2018 and given sub-q fluids by me from that date until July 27, 2019, intestinal lymphoma, and squamous cell carcinoma I cured and then it came back June 7, 2018) had CRF and I did fluid on him every night for year and when he died on July 28, 2019 his kidney values were normal! It was the intestinal lymphoma that killed him and all that blood work showed nothing. A week later, on August 4, 2019, out of the blue we lost Madison (only 11 years 10 months and had diabetes for over a year treated with insulin but her liver values were elevated in Jan 2019) suddenly and they think it was terminal liver failure. She left behind two kittens now 11 years 5 months… but we then lost one of them on October 1, 2019! Then, weeks later Madison’s sister, Ciara (diagnosed with asthma on Feb 28th then on August 25th, 2019 with a mass in her chest pressing on her lungs and heart) went to the RB on September 17th (11 years 11 months old) and left 4 kittens now 11 years 5 months old grieving her loss. Two weeks after Ciara went to the RB, we then lost her nephew and Madison’s son, Milo (11 years 4.5 months) and he lost weight since his Mom died..and the vet thinks it was intestinal lymphoma too but his kidney, TSH, heart, liver values were great. Nothing to show this. We might never know what caused all these.

    Now, I thought I would get a break, but I took our Jasmine in and she hadn’t been in since they took all her teeth out December 26, 2017. She’s 14 years 8 months and we have her two boys (12 years 5 months old) and the vet says she has “early kidney disease” not chronic. We need to feed food with less protein… I brought in Sylvester last week too because he is acting lethargic and thought he might have a bad tooth because last year she said he had a few that needed to be removed and we didn’t do it yet because we had SIX dental surgeries on cats in one year. Sylvester has a “reverse sneeze” going on which she said is allergies. His kidney values are fine but his phosphorus is elevated a little and he’s not diluting urine. She said it may be something on his kidneys..and wanted to do the $495 ultrasound. I told her if we do that when we have over $25k in vet bills last year and $6k this year so far..and its cancer..there is nothing you can do. I’ll use homeopathics. I then remembered the week before she did a $85 ultrasound (without asking me on Duncan kitty because he’s fat in the belly and found nothing and he came in for a bad tooth and needs teeth extracted but he’s congested)..so I asked her if she could do that on Sylvester in a week or so…and she can but keeps pressing us to get the more expensive one.

    Anyway, there is a great website on CRF and you might know about it already but it is this one: https://www.felinecrf.org. I have the big book from 2013 but think the website is more up-to-date and the book is HUGE and I’ve only flipped through it.

    You are so lucky if you have never experienced CRF in a kitty. I know feral cat rescuer who had to do sub-q fluids for 3 years on a CRF kitty. My longtime bf refuses to help with anything medical…so it’s all on me. LOL. I use Pet Wellbeing Kidney Gold (when I remember) on the CRF kitties and it seems to help.

    Hopefully, Ruby isn’t as bad as the vet thinks. I know this newer vet told me that once a vet says your cat has CRF you should be starting sub-q fluids and the old vet never told us that. It seems like I have to do the research and then suggest things.. like asthma. We never had a kitty with asthma and I had to beg for something other than steam inhaler for that and it was too late because now she had a small mass in her chest that killed her. It’s heartbreaking.

    Now, if this wasn’t enough, someone didn’t fix their young cat outside and she is having tons of litters. I’d been going up to Paradise, CA where they had the horrendous Camp Fire on November 8, 2018 that killed 87 people, burned down 18k homes and businesses, and killed thousands of animals. There are STILL cats in the burn zone being rescued a year later and many are dying from lymphoma from the benzene in the soil and water. It’s heartbreaking. I told my bf I will need to trap and fix all these kittens in these homes next door and he said No…someone else needs to do it. I will have to..but IDk when because we are going broke. Time to rob a bank. LOL.

    Paws crossed that Ruby gets better…and cats can survive a long time with CRF. My bf is convinced that using RO water with Drinkwell Fountains and bowls all over has caused us to not have cats with CRF…and I had to tell him last week that is not true. We also feed grain-free wet and dry food and have not been able to make 18 cats (tried with 38 too) totally convert to wet only because we have had them get hepatic lipidosis from not eating for 3 days. We feed raw too. IDK..seems like many years ago cats ate mice and Purina Chow Chow and they didn’t get all these diseases. After the 2007 pet food recalls, I studied up on Pet Food and found what is supposed to be the best ones..but still they get sick when they are older. 🙁

    Reply
    • Terri D Rimmer
      October 23, 2019 at 6:24 pm (10 months ago)

      Thank you, Tamara Terry. I have passed your comment on to my sister who is going through this with her cat, Charlie.

      Reply
  38. Sue Brandes
    October 23, 2019 at 2:21 pm (10 months ago)

    I am so sorry Ingrid. Prayers for your sweet Ruby.

    Reply
  39. Marie
    October 23, 2019 at 1:34 pm (10 months ago)

    I, too, am very saddened to learn of Ruby’s diagnosis. Perhaps our Gabie’s story will make you feel a bit better:
    Our beloved Gabie was diagnosed suddenly as well, at age 10. We opted as you to keep her comfortable at home, with sub-c fluids as needed. Sometimes she didn’t need this. We began feeding her several small meals (every 3-4 hours) of whatever wet food she would eat. She took 1/4 pepcid 10 mg, as the kidney disease, we were told, caused heartburn. She also took a tiny dose of blood pressure medication (amlodipine) and we learned that only one generic agreed with her, so CVS got us that specific one. We were experts at cutting pills and hiding them in treats. She wouldn’t eat any of the rx foods, so we gave her wet foods with about 9 grams of protein. Whiskas pouches were very wet and easily mashed and came in several varieties. She wouldn’t eat the same food twice in a row or any left once opened . (I found local ferals and fed them the leftovers.) As long as she took the pepcid, she ate and drank. Here’s the encouraging news: She lived 6 1/2 more years! Only the last couple of months was she worse. We never missed a meal, day or night.
    And we gave her a beautiful in-home, gentle, just drift off, passing at home with Lap of Love.
    I hope Ruby will stabilize and have more happy years of love with you and Allegra.

    Reply
  40. Lola The Rescued Cat
    October 23, 2019 at 12:48 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, I am so very sorry to hear about Ruby’s diagnosis. I am sending healing prayers and energy to both of you. Hugs!

    Reply
  41. Lisa Bork
    October 23, 2019 at 12:43 pm (10 months ago)

    So very sorry to hear about Ruby’s illness. Sending hugs and prayers for her and for you and Allegra too.

    Reply
  42. DENNIS MORAN
    October 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm (10 months ago)

    SO SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR GIRL. GOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS

    Reply
  43. Debi
    October 23, 2019 at 12:24 pm (10 months ago)

    This terrible news about Ruby devastated me. After recently going through this with my sweet kitty my heart breaks for you knowing what may be to come. It’s a very difficult journey, but we do it with as pure a love as they have given us through the years. When I realized I was keeping her alive for me and she was finished fighting, I let her go. Only you know what is best for Ruby after living with her for 9 years. I’m so sorry for the pain and grief to come and am crying for my own as well. Hoping your precious baby has much more quality time with you. <3

    Reply
  44. Allison
    October 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid, I am so sorry to hear that Ruby has chronic kidney failure. When I opened your post today this news was the last thing I expected to read. I kind of felt as if Ruby and Allegra would live forever.

    My first cat died of heart issues and chronic kidney failure. She was diagnosed with an infection in the fall of 2013. When she failed to rebound after being treated, more tests were done and she was given a year due to heart conditions. I started planning how to make the most of our time, only to a month later learn that she had chronic kidney failure. Our vet at the time told us we should let her go; I said absolutely not. I got two more weeks. My Lucy died December 22, 2013.

    As soon as I heard she had chronic kidney failure, I joined a support group. From them I learned that many cats can rebound and hoped that Lucy would be one of them. Although she was a stray of unknown age, she was not considered a senior. We tried a feeding tube and fluids and for a short time they helped. When she developed anemia, it was clear we were going to lose our battle.

    My heart is with you in the weeks or months ahead. Some of my most special moments with Lucy are from my last days with her. Everything was about her and we know how our strong our love was. Hold on to every day. I hope that they are many more than you expect. Many hugs.

    Reply
  45. Brian Frum
    October 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm (10 months ago)

    Oh Ingrid, I’m so very sorry to hear about Ruby’s diagnosis, we have a CKD kitty (Zoe) and we understand. Of course you and Ruby know what’s best for her, that’s the way it should be, the only way. Purrs, prayers and hugs from all of us here.

    Reply
  46. Kathryn
    October 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm (10 months ago)

    Ingrid,

    I am so, so sorry to hear about Ruby’s diagnosis. You and Ruby and Allegra, too, will be in my thoughts. I’ve had several kitties with CKD and as others have mentioned, I found loads of information at Tanya’s site. I also found the support group to be very helpful for both information and for support. Sometimes it’s hard to find someone to talk to who understands, but the members of the group were always available and sympathetic. Sending much love to all three of you!

    Reply
  47. Courtney
    October 23, 2019 at 11:42 am (10 months ago)

    I lost my little girl Misty to kidney disease last June. She was 16.5 years old. I miss her so much. I did everything you are doing (sub Q Fluids, Phospate binders, even Rx food). Nothing could save her. I am balling my eyes out as I write this because I miss her so much. I am so sorry that this is happening to Ruby. I wish there was something I could do to make it easier.

    Reply
  48. Catherine J Stout
    October 23, 2019 at 11:39 am (10 months ago)

    Cats live in the moment, enjoying life as it comes, and you must try to do the same..I feel like Ruby is my cat too, and I’m so sorry for you and your little family..I’ve been thru this journey with several cats, over the years, and it is hard, and makes profound sadness..I am praying that Ruby will continue to live on, with joy and comfort, and bask in your love..I think all your decisions are good and sound..

    Reply
  49. Louise K.
    October 23, 2019 at 11:34 am (10 months ago)

    Ingrid – I am so sorry. I had two cats who had Renal Failure. The last one went through the hydration IV, and I had to force feed her. Not fun for either of us. The vet thought that since she was younger (7 years) her condition would turn around. He finally accepted that she wouldn’t and I said goodbye. (I never went back to that vet.)
    In retrospect, I wouldn’t have put her through any of that. I would do what you’re doing, keep her comfortable until it was her time.
    Again, I’m sorry. Many us on this list know exactly what you’re going through. Our cats are our children, and we want the best for them.

    Reply
  50. Ais
    October 23, 2019 at 11:31 am (10 months ago)

    That is such sad news. It is heartbreaking. There are no words. Everyone’s grief is different so I won’t say I know how you feel, but I do know it hurts so much and is going to be a very difficult time for the three of you. We have two cats adopted as kittens and our border collie more or less took over as their “mom”. Last week, our collie had a stroke on top of other things that had been slowing her up a lot over the last 6 months. As painful and sad as it was to help Star over the rainbow bridge that day, I looked into her eyes and knew it was the right thing to do and what she wanted. I stayed with her and held her, it broke my heart. I completely support you honouring Ruby’s unique spirit and I respect your choices in this extremely difficult time.

    Reply

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