Tiger’s Story …

I was thinking about posting this in any case, but see that TigersMom gave me an opening by commenting on my last post.  TigersMom gave me permission to tell this story but, TM, please jump in and fill in the gaps as you find them.  First, I don’t remember what made you actually — like — question your veterinarian and start looking for answers on your own?  I would love to hear what made you venture out of the bounds of comfort and go against your vet’s recommendations.

Well, however it came about, TM contacted me with some diet questions about two years ago.  Her kitty, Tiger, was saved by TM’s quick recognition of trouble by rushing him to the vet when she recognized the signs of a urinary blockage.  He was treated at HUGE expense, which she certainly didn’t need, and sent home with a dry kibble prescription diet.

She tells me that the vet is surprised that Tiger has not had a relapse since he finds that cats who have had this before are more likely to experience it again.  I have a different theory: some cats are more prone to developing urinary crystals in the first place, so of course they will be back for treatment with the same issue if their diet is not attended to properly.  Her vet also told her that if Tiger gets blocked again, he will likely need THE Surgery.  ‘THE Surgery’ is called a ‘perineal urethrostomy,’ and is essentially partial amputation of the penis to allow for a larger urethral opening.  Right!  Like THAT’S a great idea, when this whole issue can probably be prevented in the first place.

AGAIN, I’m reminded of an old poem I’ve always loved about a town arguing whether to put a fence around the edge of the cliff, or an ambulance down in the valley.

There are two kinds of urinary crystals/stones, and I don’t know which kind Tiger had.  The more common and more easily dealt with are struvite crystals, the other is oxalate stones.  Struvite crystals can be prevented by feeding a prescription diet formulated to regulate the PH of the urine, however this has been known to push the PH of the urine over into the range where oxalate stones can develop and the stones often require surgery.

I believe that both struvite and oxalate crytal/stones are uncommon in cats on a WET diet AND a diet consisting primarily of ANIMAL protein.  This means NO dry, and it also means no fruit, no grains, no veggies.  The high animal protein diet regulates the PH of the urine and the moisture in the diet helps keep things flowing.

I personally would question ANY veterinarian that does not recommend an ALL wet diet for any cat with urinary issues.  I’ll concede on the prescription diet as long as it’s WET.  But having said that, I must interject that it’s often not palatable, it’s expensive, and it’s FULL of grains and carbohydrates.

For Tiger, we settled on canned Fancy Feast.  TigersMom is not up to doing a raw diet.  She is not alone in this, and that’s fine because there are alternatives.  She didn’t waste any time getting him on his new diet and he’s been on it ever since — about two years, I think?  I follow his progress with interest as well as his matey, Lily, who is on the same diet, which is Fancy Feast and only Fancy Feast, canned, in ONLY the grain/fruit/veggie free flavors.  So far it seems to be working great. “We” also suggest adding water … lots and LOTS of water to the food.  When I recommend this diet, I will tell you to add as much water as your cat(s) will tolerate.  I do this for my cats as well.  There are a few other brands of canned food that qualify, but to keep things simple, we will just go with the Fancy Feast for now.  The cats love it, and it’s easily obtained.

I recently added a link to the recommended foods page of my website that has a printable list of the “approved” Fancy Feast flavors that can easily be printed out: approved Fancy Feast flavors.

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5 responses to “Tiger’s Story …

  1. Molly, this is one of your BEST posts yet!! and Tigers Mom, I had a similar story as yours and did the same thing……so “Congrats” too you for standing up to your vet and trusting you heart to guide you!!!!!! 😀

  2. As soon as I’m all moved & start with my new vet, this will be the first conversation we have!

  3. Hey, Molly, thanks for a great post! Tiger and Lily say, yes, feed your kitties Fancy Feast! And ONLY Fancy Feast! They are picky eaters – well, Tiger is, anyway – and we’ve pretty much settled on chicken flavor. Once in a while I get turkey and giblets when Petco doesn’t have enough chicken on hand. They each get a can in the morning and another in the evening. I mash it up and add enough water to make it just short of runny – they don’t like it if it’s runny. Oh, yes – another thing to point out: I never see them drinking water out of their bowl since I switched to wet. Molly told me this was normal. I still provide water, but I don’t think they drink it.

    Tiger weighs 11 lbs. and Lily 8. Tiger’s bones are a lot longer, so he can handle the extra weight. When going through all of this 2 years ago with Tiger, I discovered that a cat of the correct weight for his or her bone structure will have a visible waist, which both of my cats have. Obviously, the FF is agreeing with them and they are getting enough to eat.

    As to what made me question the vet’s nutrition advice, I don’t really remember anymore! I think you and I had been talking online about this before he got sick, and I had read Dr. Hodgkins book “Your Cat”. I think I was open to try something new. It might also have had to do with the run-in I had with the vet with my previous cat, Lucy, who was 13 and diabetic (and quite overweight). The vet reamed me out when I refused to start her on daily shots – I was already feeding her the diabetic dry food (wish I’d known Molly then), told me all the bad things that “could” happen. I didn’t think this would make for a good quality of life, and as it turned out, I had to have her put to sleep about a month later – she clearly let me know it was time. But I felt I did the best I could for her and she had a good quality of life right up to the last day, when there was a sudden change. I might have done something different had she been a much younger cat, but she was a month short of 14 when she died. I think this experience was on my mind. I had decided to make the switch when I returned from a 2 week vacation, but Tiger got sick and I decided I couldn’t afford to wait. It was a challenge to set up a plan for feeding canned food with a once-a-day visit from Auntie Rachel (what my friend referred to herself as – “aunt” to my cats!) but they did well while I was gone. Tiger had barely returned to good health when I had to leave on my trip. I was surprised how easy it was to switch from dry to wet, since I understand that can sometimes be difficult.

    One other thing – I had to beg the vet for canned prescription food for Tiger – they were reluctant to give it to me, thought the dry would be fine.

    I think Molly wanted everyone to know, from my experience, that feeding just one flavor is OK. I don’t think cats care about that as much as we do! And I did find out that Tiger doesn’t like beef. Now Lily, she’ll eat about anything, but I’m not going to buy something Tiger won’t eat – too complicated.

    I really like the way Molly does the raw diet, but like she said, not for me. I really don’t like to cook even for myself, and knew I wasn’t up to dealing with something that seemed suspiciously like cooking! I still work full time and am a quilter, so that’s where my time goes. Well, and serving my cats, of course!!

    Oh, yes – I want to throw in something Molly suggested to me when I was leaving on my trip – freeze FF ahead of time in ice cube trays – 1 oz. per cube. Will thaw to be eaten later for the twice a day feedings. At least in theory – haven’t tried it yet!

    I urge everyone to read Dr. Hodgkins’ book, plus the links Molly provides on her website.

    Yes, FF is more expensive – it costs me about $60 a month for my 2 cats, which is stretch on my income. But I feel it has kept Tiger healthy with no recurrence of the dreaded blockage, and thus probably has saved me a lot of money in vet bills (and agonizing decisions based on lack of money!).

    I hope any of you reading this who are feeding dry read the suggested items, and seriously consider a switch. I truly think your cats will be healthier on the wet diet.

    Molly, you might want to list the symptoms of a urinary blockage. I had a cat die because I didn’t recognize them. And because of this, I was able to get Tiger to the vet early on, which probably saved his life. The vet was surprised I got him in so early, and I said I learned because my Ozzie died.

    Tiger is 4 years old – it will be 2 years this May since he was sick. He’s a beautiful healthy cat.

  4. I have never personally seen a urinary blockage, but here are some of the signs to look for: kitty is showing signs of discomfort; straining in the litter box and making frequent and prolonged attempts to urinate, but the amount of urine passed is quite small; grooming their genital area excessively; urinating outside of the litter box. Occasionally, there will be blood present in the urine. Symptoms for constipation are similar so it’s best NOT to assume constipation, but instead take your kitty to the vet.

  5. And in Tiger’s case, a lot of meowing, like he was in pain. It was like he was talking to me, “I hurt!” My other cat who died from this kept backing up to various surfaces as if he was going to spray, but nothing would happen.

    DO NOT WAIT! Get to the vet NOW. This is life-threatening! (And a painful way for your kitty to die.)

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