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Lukaska’s Diagnosis

posted at 2:20 am
on Dec. 9, 2004

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The vet told me about the news about Lukaska last week, and I’ve been wracking my brain for some way to make it funny.

But it’s, how you say, not so funny.

We went back to the vet on Sunday for the test results, and she explained the situation.

Lukaska is nine, and she’s just been diagnosed with chronic renal incapacity.  It used to be called chronic renal failure, but the medical profession decided that sounded a bit, well, dire.  What she’s really been diagnosed with is that her kidneys don’t work very well any more.

I’m having a very hard time treating this as a permanent condition.  About 98% of my interactions with doctors and sick people have revolved around illnesses that can be cured.  But with Lukaska’s kidneys, when a cat shows up and has these symptoms, it’s unlikely—see, there I go being falsely positive—it’s virtually unheard of that kidney function will return.

What this means, is that if we can stabilizer her with treatments, she could live for weeks, months or years.  It’s an unknown.  But it is certain that if we don’t treat her, she will d-i-e-. (I don’t like to type it or say it out loud.  It sounds kind of a little ominous.)

Over the next week or two, we’ll find out how our current home treatments are helping her.  Those treatments include:

  • Half-pills of Pepcid AC daily.  Giving pills to Lukaska is always difficult, but these help her with combatting nausea caused by dehydration.  We’ve tried 8 different ways to give the pills to her, and the one we find works easiest is to mash the pill up, mix it with butter, and rub it on her leg.  She licks it off, and presto, she’ medicated.

  • Feeding her as much food as we can get her to eat (she needs the weight).  We’ve bought a bunch of different kinds of wet food, and now we’re just figuring out which ones she likes and which ones she doesn’t.  Aimee likes them all.  Aimee is in fact rather excited about all the new food.

  • This is the tricky one: injections 100 ml of subcutaneous liquid every other day.  So I’ve learned how to give IVs, as long as you don’t care so much about bubbles in the line.  It’s pretty easy to give IVs to cats.  Cats are very insensitive on the back of their neck. So I give Lukaska a little poke, then pump the neutral liquid into her, and then she’s done.  When I say pump, I mean it—the faster we give the liquid, the faster the cat can be unrestrained and happy again, so we basically squeeze the bottle to force the liquid into her skin.  She ends up with a little lump about the size of half a Capri Sun that flops around when she runs. She’s like a miniature camel for about 90 minutes until the fluid is absorbed.  She seems to feel a lot better when we’ve done it.

    The funny-tragic thing is, she tends to leak a bit when the needle comes out. 😊 So her official new nickname is Leakaska now.

    We’re also supposed to start giving her potassium and maybe calcium and what not.

    And once we’ve got this kidney thing under control, we’ll see how some of her other systems are doing: she has liver-related issues (possibly related to kidney problems) and she has high blood pressure (possibly related to the fact that it took two strong adults to hold her down when they took her blood pressure.)

    Basically, we’ve going to be making her comfortable, keeping her hydrated, trying to fatten her up, and see where things go from there.

    And as far as what caused this condition, that’s the most frustrating thing of all: we have no idea.  She’s three years younger than the earliest age that kidneys tend to fail in cats.  She hasn’t eaten any kidney-zapping toxins (lilies and antifreeze are the usual culprits).  She hasn’t, as far as I know, suffered any fever or massive infection (they’re testing for that as well and we’ll know on Friday).  So perhaps it’s a genetic condition, or perhaps it’s a combination of those things, and there’s no way to know, really, and the vet says it wouldn’t change the treatment, so…

    Aimee sees to be fine, and it’s very unlikely that Lukaska’s problem could spread.  So we’re focused on treatment.

    Anyway, that’s the latest news.  If you have any ideas for how to fatten up a cat, please speak up now!

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