Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dinky's Check-Up


Well, it's been a month since we started treating Dinky's kidney condition. I took her in to the vet clinic yesterday for a check up and follow-up blood work. The good news is that she has gained 5.6 ounces back and her hemocrit--a measure of anemia--was up from 28.5 last month to 32 this month, which puts it into the very low end of normal.


Her urine specific gravity was 1.015. (We hadn't tested that last month) It's a measure of how well her kidneys are concentrating her urine, and the normal range is 1.025 to 1.060, though one source listed 1.015 as the low end of the normal range. Typical CRF cats run 1.010 or less.

The rest of her numbers showed a slight movement down but nothing dramatic. Her phosphorus had been in the normal range (high) and now is right smack dab in the middle of normal. Her BUN was still high, down from 78 to 76. The same story with the creatinine, down to 5.3 from 7.4. Dots said that Dinky's bleeding gums could be contributing to the high numbers, so for now, we are going to concentrate on the fluids and an antibiotic to treat her gum infection and see if we can get her fit enough to get some dental work done in about a month.

It's easy to get caught up in chasing numbers but I keep reminding myself that each cat is different and that we really don't know what is "normal" for Dinky. That she is feeling good, gaining weight and eating are all good signs. I can hope that treating her mouth infection will buy her some better quality time. We have sweet interactions now, a sort of long good-bye, as I adjust to the idea of her mortality and the realization that she isn't going to be here forever, that each day is one less precious day of our shared life.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

CRF

That's cat-people short-hand for chronic renal failure. It's so common in cats that it has its own abbreviation. Like FeLV or FIV or all the other collections of letters that break our hearts...

But I'm feeling better this week. I have come to realize that Dinky's condition is just that--a condition. It is not curable and it is degenerative but there is a lot I can do to make her feel good and improve her health to the point where she could very well die of something else. I joined a couple Yahoo groups--the one I am active in being "Caring for CRF Felines"--and have found help and support and good advice. Several members have been keeping their CRF cats going for years, which I found heartening.

It helps that Dinky is looking and acting so good. It even seems like she has put a few ounces back on. We are developing a system in treating her, though I still have to list all the treatments/medication she needs for the day and check it off the list as I go: Pepcid, vitamins, Antirobe, fluids. Washing her quarter-tab of Pepcid down with a squirt of water seems to make the process easier. She doesn't much care for the sub-Q fluids but she is learning to tolerate them. I got the Terumo needles this last Saturday and they have made a difference, going in smoother and delivering the required amount of fluids quicker. And since I decided to split her 150ml dose into daily doses of 75ml, we are done in a little over a minute.

Dinky actually seems to enjoy the increased attention and our interactions have become just a bit sweeter as we cope with this together.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Dinky looks and acts so normally, I keep thinking there has to be some mistake in her diagnosis. But I am trying to carry out the home-care instructions I have the best I can. Even with Denny's help, we had real trouble giving Dinky her subcutaneous Tagament injection. Even though I was using a 22-gauge needle, Dinky would cry and twist and flinch--not a happy scene at all. So I asked (and got the go-ahead) to switch her to oral Pepcid every other day. Dinky gets a quarter-tablet, washed down with a spritz of water--ever so much easier than jabbing at her with a needle.

But there is no substitute for the sub-Q fluids. Researching on-line I found recommendations on needles for giving fluids and was able place an order on-line. I have been wanting a small but effective needle for "doing fluids" for years now, so perhaps this will be helpful. Until my order arrives, though, I still have to deal with Dinky. She is so fidgety that I decided to use the 18-gauge needle, even though it is larger and one presumes more uncomfortable, it delivers the payload faster, so less time spent clutching Dinky and trying to calm her. She has been pretty good, actually, even though she lets me know she doesn't like it.

I also (finally) finished giving The House of Many Cats a face-lift. Now if I can find the time to update and finish the individual pages.