19 year Old Cat with Renal Failure-to treat or not?

dmbj891January 20, 2010

My female 19 yr old cat is blind and deaf ... and was diagnosised with renal failure.. She is a great cat! Should I treat her with the fluids to prolong her life.. or make the final act of love? Her quality of life is diminished due to her blindness and deafness in the last few months... I am struggling on an answer! Thanks!

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I've had a CRF cat for a few years now. This is just my opinion...

In your shoes, I would go ahead and try the fluids just to see what the results are. It is not likely to cause her any negative side effects. You might be surprised at how she feels with a little extra hydration. If she and you are both happy with the results of added fluid, and you feel her quality of life seems good at that point, then you will have that answer.

If you give her fluids and her quality of life seems to be lacking at that point, then you will have that answer.

I see no real downside to trying the fluids. You will know very quickly how she does with them. Mine was a changed cat in 3 hours.

Good luck. There are others here with much better medical knowledge than what I have, so you will get a lot of good advice.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 5:48PM
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So sorry to hear about your old girl - but congratulations for helping her to live such a long life.

It's always wrenching to put any beloved pet to sleep, but in my experience the endings that I still remember with pain are the ones when I waited too long because I wanted to have a few more days/weeks/whatever, things took a terrible turn for the worse, and the animal was consumed by fear and pain (me too), or worse, was barely conscious.

The endings I look back on with a bittersweet but peaceful feeling of love and pride were the planned ones, where I knew it was coming, and decided to do it "my way".

My beloved 16-year-old Jack Russell female developed severe hypoglycemic seizures likely caused by pancreatic cancer. Things deteriorated for months, but she was still my sweet girl. After a particularly vicious seizure, I let her rest and recover for a few days -- but I knew what was coming. One day she woke up from a nap, looked at me from across the room, and gave me "the look"... I just knew it was time. I made the appointment at the vet, but gave us all a couple of final days together, and we spoiled her rotten. On her last day, my husband and I took the day off from work. We cooked her a filet mignon on the grill, took her for a ride in the car with her head hanging out in the breeze, and spent some time noodling around at one of her favorite parks. Plus lots of hugs and kisses and tears. She trotted into the vet's office (which she liked to visit) under her own steam and in good spirits. I miss her every day, but I know I did her right.

Shower your kitty with love and treats in the time you have left, and do the subcutaneous fluids to make her feel better. Give her a hug from me too :o)

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 6:31PM
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That's such a hard question. I had a 17 year old cat that was diagnosed with renal failure - which I didn't know much about at the time. I thought that was the end - he was very sick - but I found about the subcutaneous fluids and decided to give that a try. He had another two good years before his quality of life really deteriorated and I decided not to put him through any heroic medical care. If you think your cat has a good quality of life then giving him the subcutaneous fluids might help him continue a while longer. My cat was very good with the fluids and it became a very straightforward routine. I think you really have to ask yourself honestly if your cat is still enjoying life. I knew mine was and I also clearly knew when that was no longer the case.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 11:21PM
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I would try the fluids and see if she responds to them.

If she really hates taking the fluids and it causes too musch stress to her, then I'd opt NOT to give them to her.

Are her symptoms severe? Are the fluids for early-stage CRF?

My only concern would be, is she in pain.

If she's not in pain, I'd let her live out her life as is.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 11:30PM
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I would try the fluids first. At least you would then know you tried.

The RF itself could be the cause of her diminished quality of life more than the blindness & deafness, but you'll know fairly quickly if she benefits from the fluids.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:02AM
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I'm sorry that you are going through this. I went through this two years ago. My kitty was 18 and had CRF, cardiomyopathy, etc. It's so difficult.

Our deal was that if she was willing to put up with treatments, then, so will I. The SubQ fluids made her feel soooo much better. It became a routine for her and she eventually tolerated it just fine.

If you decide to do it, learn everything you can about the process. The key to making it easy and enjoyable is warming the fluids to the cats body temp.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:22AM
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I just lost a 17 y.o. cat that lived with CRF for 1.5 years. I was able to administer the fluids at home even though he was never quite happy about it - at best he would stay still and tolerate it. I didn't learn about warming the fluids and shifting to a smaller needle until the last months. I wish I'd known sooner. Usually 18 or 20 gauge is a good size needle, and it will just depend on whether your cat can tolerate the larger size or not; the fluid flows more quickly with the larger needle. As for warming, I learned that the fluid should feel warm when you do the wrist test b/c a cat's body temp is slightly warmer than a human. As my last vet told me, it should like very warm bathwater that makes you go "aahhhh."

Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 8:14PM
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I am so sorry to hear this, but I agree with the posters who say to go ahead with the fluids. She shouldn't be too stressed out by them, and if you are sure she isn't in pain (I know they can hide it!) keep her as healthy as you can. Only she can tell you if she is a fighter or when it is time to go.

Give the fluids a try, many blind and deaf cats live great lives with a wonderful parent like yourself, they just need a little extra attention when it comes to their health.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 1:04AM
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I agree...give the Sub-qs a chance. My last CRF cat actually looked forward to them. When Max heard me preparing the bag, he would jump onto the chair where we did the procedure...three times a day at the end.

If your cat doesn't mind, they will make him much more comfortable for what ever time he has left.

And yes, I used a narrower guaged needle...there is a model with a wider tunnel (something that started with a 'T'???maybe someone else on this board remembers the brand name). It took a little longer, but Max didn't budge when I put it in.

Do you have a gas oven? If so, try putting the bag in the un-lit (obviously) oven for about 20 minutes. That will warm the bag up just enough.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 11:49AM
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You can do the fluids, but just as important is whether she is eating. If she is not eating, she'll go downhill pretty fast. IMHO force feeding at this point would not be kind, but there are appetite stimulants (cipro or something) if you want to do that.

We've been through this. Because of DH we extended our dear kitty's life longer than it should have been, and it's not a real happy memory.

Your kitty must be a dearly loved pet, and I know how hard this is for you. She lived a very long life and is lucky to have such loving care in the end. Best wishes and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 1:31PM
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I took my 19 year old kidney-failure cat to the vet on Sat. thinking she would need to be put down, but reluctantly agreed to let them do a few things for her. The next day she was so much better, I am glad I didn't pull the plug.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 6:44PM
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The ultimate question becomes whether you are keeping her alive for you or for her. If she still has a decent quality of life, then I would try. However, you say she's 19, blind, deaf, and quality of life has already diminished.

If you give fluids yourself, it's not always easy. It's also sometimes a big needle, and while they can feel better after, they don't always appreciate being filled up with fluid.

We had a young Persian with CRF we did do fluids on, and it added 9 months to his life. He was the sweetest cat in the world, though, and tolerated the needle and such even though he didn't like it. Will you be able to do it yourself? Or, will you have to take her to the vet?

It's the hardest decision in the world to let go, but you have to remember that ultimately it's not about how we feel but how our animal feels. This is something I feel very strongly about because I worked at a large sanctuary where all too often people couldn't let go, and animals suffered far too long before they were given their release from illness/pain. Death isn't bad, especially when a good long life has been lived.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 1:31AM
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what erica said.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:53PM
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Quasifish posted the same good experience I had giving the fluids. I was able to order fluids, needles, etc., at a lower cost from the compounding pharmacy.

We kept two cats alive and comfortable for an extra year or so with the subcutaneous fluids, and gave a little reward treat after each treatment.

The kitties learned to tolerate it, knowing the treat would follow.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 10:52PM
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I wonder how OP and cat are doing...

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:51PM
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I've been through this too -- same age. The whole situation is very individual to the owner and the kitty. In my case, I felt that I should at least try giving her the fluids so that I would never have any regrets about not having tried it. All cats react differently. I remember when I did it, that an analogy was made between the feeling you have when you're hungover, due to dehydration, and the feeling that a CRF cat has, which is why the fluids are so important and helpful. I did end up getting a smaller needle than the vet gave me (sorry, I can't remember the exact size; this was several years ago), which made it so much easier, so scope that out before you start. And definitely warm the fluids. There are many, many good sites on the net that give info on this, as well as forums for those going through it, with great tips on food, vitamins, etc. I'm attaching a link to one I used, but it may be outdated, I didn't ck to see when recent activity was. My heart goes out to you; it's hard to go through this stuff. When I eventually had to put my kitty, Ethel, to sleep, I had to sit down and write a 2-column list of why and why not, bc I was so conflicted about it. Even after that, I had my regrets. Only you know when it's time. I have lots of animals and for me, most of the time, when the animal stops eating, it's time. In my estimation, blind and deaf don't necessarily make for a miserable life, and CRF is very common and treatable, at least for awhile. Again, it varies from cat to cat. Good luck!


    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 7:49PM
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