I found a holistic cat care page with some advice, but, even though I am not a vet, my advice is different. Why? Because a lot of vets, even holistic ones, still have the ‘treat the symptom’ mentality that doesn’t always think about side effects. Do your own research, including talking to vets.
Before going into ANY of the holistic vet advice, first I say, GET RID OF YOUR DRY CAT FOOD. NOW. Either switch your cats to canned food or, if your cats hunt or are kittens, get them started on a RAW diet. You will never regret that– they’ll be cheaper to feed and healthier cats! Mine were too old and didn’t wanna do it, but I may try again sometime.
I got my kitties off the dry food because of the petfood scare. Now that they are off it, I am blown away by the positive changes, ranging from one cat’s arthritis largely disappearing to the other cat being less skittish. Cats aren’t meant to eat lots of grain. They can if they have to, and even seem to thrive. I always got lots of complements at the vet’s on the condition of my cats, as I fed them Iam’s dry and a can of Fancy Feast daily. I didn’t know how much better they could be doing!
It is going to be more expensive, yes. But I find that if I read can ingredients and look for sales, it’s not that bad. It probably averages about $1.30/day total to feed the pair of them, an 8 pound and an 11 pound cat. If you can’t do that, I understand– time was I couldn’t either. So do what you can, and supplement with what you can afford. It is still cheaper than the vet bills in the long run, but there was a time we couldn’t afford those, either. I know you love your kitties, so don’t get bummed out if you’re reading this and feel like you can’t do it all!
So, on to the vet’s advice:
If, despite your efforts, your cat does develop kidney disease, these strategies may help. Use supplements designed for humans (grind them up or puncture gel capsules) and adjust dosages accordingly.
1. Antioxidants. Which ones and how much?
Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) – 50 I.U. per day
Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate powder tastes less sour than ascorbic acid and is easier to hide in food) – 250 mg twice a day
I strongly disagree. Vitamin C in excess can cause bleeding, which is the LAST thing you want in major blood filtering organs. The problem with ‘excess’ is that it’s highly individual. Now that I eat a lot of veggies from my garden, I find that if I eat a lot of fruit (like 3 or 4 peaches over the course of a day, I can get a killer nosebleed from it. I’ve had an “Emergen-C” packet set off a giant nosebleed. I never realized that I was overdosing with C until reading that as a side effect– I figured I was just prone to nosebleeds, and was getting off Allegra in case it was that. Nope! As for Vitamin E, kittygrass and good food will do that.
2. Coenzyme Q-10 – 10 mg once to twice a day.
Don’t know any reason to contraindicate this, though I’m wary of supplementing cats rather than bettering their quality of food. Despite the plethora of CoQ-10 supplements that are certified as egg-free, egg yolk remains one of the best sources of ubiquinone-10. An occasional raw organic egg yolk is also excellent kitty nutrition. If yours are like mine, they may need you to over-easy it and eat the white, then give them the plate and make them think they’re getting away with something.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve kidney function. Be sure to supplement with fish oil, not flax seed oil, since cats can’t convert the linoleic acid in flax seed oil to the final form, arachidonic acid. How much? Pop a hole in a fish-oil capsule and give your cat about 2 drops daily.
Great advice re: the fish vs flax. But 2 drops from a capsule daily? Much better to share a tin of wild-caught sardines in WATER with your cat once a week, giving the cat the juice and a sardine or two. The organs and tiny bones in the sardines are full of the goodness that kitties are designed for, and they’re good for YOU too.
4. All nutrients needed to grow kidney tissue are found in kidney tissue, so supplementation with glandular kidney tissue ensures that any nutrients we aren’t supplying to our cats are obtained. How much? 1/4 capsule of desiccated kidney tissue, twice daily.
Ask the butcher at your local Whole Foods for organic kidney, rather than buying the dessicated kidney pills that many holistic cat care folks recommend. Since the kidney is a filter, who wants factory-farmed poisoned animals supplying kidney, ugh?! They sell the Rocky chicken livers, but may have kidney and hearts from roasting chickens or from whole turkeys. Any of the organic organ meats are *great* for kitties if yours will eat them. Ours eat liver cooked, but won’t eat it raw, silly things.
5. Acupuncture helps appetite and improves blood flow to the kidneys.
Could be. I doubt that it would outweigh the trauma of transport, though– the kitty doesn’t know that she is going for a relaxing, painless acupuncture treatment. She knows that the carrier usually means a butt-probe and a shot, possibly other indignities as well. Even worse if the acupuncturist works out of your vet’s office, where the all too familiar smells and sounds will make your kitty long to be home before something happens to her.
6. B-complex vitamins are lost with the increased urination, vomiting, and diarrhea which often accompany kidney disease. So, a B-complex supplement can help. How much? 1/4 of a B-50 tablet, twice daily. Also, anemia, often seen in early kidney disease, may respond to an increase in B vitamins, but anemia in end-stage kidney disease will not.
If you’re not already feeding Nutritional Yeast (large flake in bulk bins at many food stores), it’s a good idea, as the B vitamins are critical in kidney health. Also, most cats LOOOOVE it, which can’t be said about pills.
7. Supplementation with calcium carbonate may help gastrointestinal problems, acidosis, and calcium imbalance. How much? 100mg, twice daily
No, don’t feed kitty gritty stuff that makes her like her food less. Give her more sardines, with their tiny bones, or make a bonestock for kitty by intensely stewing some chicken bones like you would for soup stock, and feeding her the broth as a treat.
Dr. Nancy Scanlan has a holistic veterinary practice in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
And I’m not at all casting aspersions on her abilities as a vet. I do think that many vets don’t fully consider how stressful small changes can be to cats, even ones that are well. Of course your kitty will eventually eat her food if she is hungry, and you will think “oh, she is taking the supplements just fine now!”. But it’s another little layer of stress on top of the illness, and hiding the illness (because that’s what cats DO). Also, the straight supplement path ignores the possiblity for healing synergy from complementary ingredients, such as the extra protein in fish and egg yolk.
Good luck, and healthy kitties!! [ok to link to this, I'm keeping it public for that specifically; I am screening comments, though, as this may be a contentious topic]
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