You would think that with 3 deaths last year, and Bean Sidhe narrowly surviving the game of Chicken he tried with -and lost from- a car just 4 months ago, the House of Chaos would be granted a respite from woes and worries, wouldn’t you ?
Oh, Bean Sidhe is doing mightily fine now. He’s still got a slight limp, because the torn ligaments in the knee of his left back leg may take a lot of time to heal or may never fully heal at all, and has trouble jumping. It might last for the rest of his (hopefully long) life, but at least he’s been seen climbing the garden fence several times now. He’s reverted to his usual noisy and complainy self again, reclining in splendour on whatever surface he chooses, daintily picking up titbits whenever they are offered to his august purrson, and loving the scratching post to death when I spray some liquid catnip on it. He still does avoid the road though.
But lately the simian denizens of the House of Chaos have started worrying about Frankette, who has started to lose weight at an alarming rate. We also wondered which of the kitties was taking leaks on the kitchen counters and sometimes on the cupboard/desk where our computers are.
When The Mistress finally decided to take a rake-thin and lethargic Frankette to the Man In White a lot of answers were answered all at once. But they are not happy-making answers.
He checked her heart rate and temperature first, which turned out to be quite fine. Then he took a look at her nose and mouth, which were far too pale, and that pointed towards anaemia or serious lack of red bloodcells.Then we had to struggle mightily in order to get a sample of urine from the poor little kitty. She was actually resisting the probe, clamping shut to the MIW’s dismay. Ultimately though he managed to get it through and out leaked a liquid that I recognized as having found on the kitchen counters. It was too light of colour and too odour-less to call “urine” but there it was. The MIW daubed a stick in it, then compared the slowly emerging coloured patches with a list on the box he had taken it out of. “At least, and be very grateful for that, it’s not diabetes” he remarked with a sigh of great relief. “But the protein count is way too high and that, together with the anaemia, is very bad.”
Frankette suffers from renal insufficiency.
And she is way too young for that ! At the age of hardly 4 years, when the onset of this deficiency is usually a year or 2 later, it points towards either a recent poisoning or a congenital defect. Now, taking into account that all of the Frankenkitties who had entered the House of Chaos had died very young (1 at 6 months, 1 slightly over a year old, 1 probably two years old), given that her sibling Franky disappeared before his second birthday, and also with the knowledge that at this moment only one other Frankenkitty seems to be around -and Frankette was one of the original 5 which had spawned the rest- the MIW concluded that the original 5 were born with a serious defect the 3 fertile ones had passed down to their offspring. Frankette has always been the most petite, she almost bled to death from an injured paw a year or so ago, she was never one for games and play-fights, and that too could be a sign of bad health.
So what was happening to her ?
She is literally peeing out her life and becoming a living skeleton. Because her kidneys are no longer functioning properly she drinks a lot of water and loses all the nutrients her body needs when all of that water is evacuated again. Hence the pale colour and lack of odour of her urine. And she has lost bladder control (hence the leakage on the cupboard and the kitchen counters) because of the amount of water she drinks. Her body also fails at producing new red bloodcells and is trying to get nutrients from any source possible – her muscles for instance, hence the dramatic weight loss. By the time we visited the MIW she had only 4 pounds of weight left.
And now ?
First thing was to rush to the pharmacy and get some food supplements Frankette absolutely had to have. There’s been a recent one from Bayer which would bind phosphor and thus allow her body to retain more nutrients (or something like that, the name is Renalzin and it’s a kind of paste you can mix in the food). Another supplement, VMP which I was already giving to Bean Sidhe, is on her to-feed-list as well. The MIW also told me to go to the market and get some chicken and rabbit livers. I was to avoid feeding her “normal” cat food and other stuff rich in protein but had to give her full milk (cow’s milk, and here I always thought it was bad for kitties… turns out she needs the fat in it desperately…).
The first time I offered it to her she would eat the liver, with the Renalzin mixed in. But after that she started refusing it. I tried to give the liver without the supplements, but it got refused again. At wit’s end I hurried over to the specialist pet store and got some Purina One food specifically for cats with renal problems and this she would finally eat and continue to eat. But the Renalzin was more appreciated when I mixed it in with her milk. On the 2nd of February she weighed 4 pounds 2 oz. On the 6th it had climbed to 4.4, and two days later we celebrated a nice 4.8 ! Frankette clearly thrives on the new cat food and the supplements. Her urine has become more yellow and stronger in odour as well. But she still remains too weak to hurry over to a proper place to deposit her waste and we have a busy time cleaning up after her.
The other feline denizens grow jealous. Too much fussing of our little patient makes them feel neglected. They try to shoulder her aside when she is eating – not too difficult a feat when you realize that for instance Isegrim weighs 3 times as much as Frankette does. Even Freya is twice that weight. Although I must confess that Izzy is currently the largest of our kitties… at slightly over 6 kilos he’s developed quite the paunch and we are wondering where he got it from. Couldn’t he share some of his largesse with Franketteke ?
Loup-Garou, approaching his 13th birthday, is also expected to develop renal problems by now. His recently acquired gauntness and more coarse fur are signs of ageing, but could herald a lesser functioning of his kidneys as well. So he too will be put on the new diet. Although we can’t keep him and Frankette from sampling the food of the other feline denizens, we can try to offer them the better stuff and thus prolong their lives. It’s the best we can do. We must accept that Frankette will never see that venerable age herself, but we can make the rest of her life a better experience.
Picture below: Oh, how mightily satisfied one can look after a nourishing meal…
Update February 14th 2011: Sadly Frankette didn’t make it. After an initial positive phase she started again to refuse food, would drink only water and just a tiny bit of milk. She lost more weight and started to call out to us. The Man In White noticed that, next to renal insufficiency and anaemia, her liver started to fail as well and jaundice had started. I had to make the difficult decision and allowed him to gently nudge her onto the path over the Rainbow Bridge, where for sure her siblings, cousins and my faithful woofie Critter will be standing ready to give her the best welcome ever.
We will miss you terribly Poppemieke. You were such a coy and lovely thing, it was hard to believe you were a kitteh and not a superstar !