Do not read on if you are squeamish or sick animals are not your thing, we understand!
We’ve tried everything we can think of and hope is beginning to fade on board SY Esper, so here’s an outline of all that’s happened in the hope that any experts you may know are able to shed some light on this. We’ll start from the beginning…
We had noticed that Millie wasn’t quite as animated as usual and was losing weight. She was eating and drinking normally (not huge amounts, she’s always been a grazer). We had some blood tests done and although they showed very little, the vet thought it may be kidney failure. They suggested we have an SDMA test which would reveal more detailed results.
The clinic kept her on a drip for a few hours and she came back to the boat happy and normal, eating as usual.
Her SDMA test result was 17, which means stage 2 renal failure, not too bad. We switched her diet to Royal Canin renal food, dry and wet. She liked both, so we bought mountains of the stuff. Because she ate it straight away we did not go through the process of gradually introducing the new food, which with hindsight was a mistake.
She gradually stopped eating any food, but still drank water, so we went back to the vet where we were given Royal Canin ‘Recovery’ food to feed her with a syringe. The vet did a urine test, which we were told was normal.
Since then we have been feeding her by hand and she refuses all food we put in bowls for her. Just as a way to get her kickstarted to eat, we have tried her old food (dry and wet) which she picked at for a few days before stopping altogether. Sometimes she’ll have one of her Dreamies treats, but she’s not interested in tuna in water.
Now not drinking water as well as not eating food. Back to the vet, asking if there could be something wrong in addition to the renal failure. More blood tests showed everything else was OK. We were given “Azodyl” capsules (additive for cats with renal failure) to be administered in her food twice a day.
She didn’t get any better or any worse, and we still had to feed her by hand.
We decided that a change of scene might help. She’s always much happier at anchor where there is no threat of other cats coming on board and where she can roam around the boat as much as she likes.
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We went back to the vet where we bought a lot more Azodyl to take with us along with Kaminox (appetite stimulant) to add to her food and Complivit (multi-vitamin). Her temperature was taken and was normal.
During the sail to our current anchorage, she climbed up and down the steep companionway steps and assumed her usual happy position in the cockpit. We fed her. She seemed content.
Toilet: Throughout this whole time her peeing and pooing has gradually decreased and is no longer regular. Any poo is small, dark and compact. Pee is a normal colour, not orange. She pees as normal in the toilet, but pooing seems more difficult and is swiftly followed by being sick.
Vomit: She has now started to vomit sometimes after we’ve fed her, but this seems to coincide with the multivitamin, so we’ve stopped giving it to her.
Behaviour: Her tail is always up when she’s been fed and she enjoys a good brush afterwards. In the marina, she spent most of her time in the deserted boat next to us. Now we’ve left the marina, she’s asleep for most of the time or squats/sits in the same position before moving to another favourite spot. Her disposition, as always, continues to be sweet and friendly. She is not exhibiting any kind of pain, does not complain (any more than normal) when being picked up and happily accepts the food regimen.
This is her status today
- Not eating or drinking: being fed by us using syringes. This has been going on now for nearly a month. We are giving her soft renal food and ‘recovery’ food, both from Hill’s. In addition, we give her one capsule of Azodyl twice a day.
- Occasionally sick, but more frequently sick in the last week.
- Her behaviour is up and down but never bouncy. She sleeps or sits most of the time. On deck at anchor, she has shown some interest in the noises of her surroundings, but mostly she sleeps.
- Millie is 11.
- Her kidney failure is not severe and, from what we’ve been told by other cat owners with a similarly diagnosed pet, should be manageable for years.
- We find it difficult to understand why she should have plummeted so quickly and wonder if there is another problem. With the problems of defecating and vomiting, could it be gut-related? A parasite? Virus? Something which wouldn’t show up in a general blood test? Although one of the vets felt around her abdomen for compacted poo, she found none and concluded that Millie is not constipated. BUT Millie has hardly any food in her, so we wouldn’t expect the vet to find anything there.
- In our opinion, there is a definite correlation between pooing (or trying, sometimes there is no result) and vomiting. We believe she is constipated or has a worse problem. Is there anything we can do immediately, other than giving her more water, to help?
- To spend another day here at this quiet anchorage watching her every move (she’s curled up asleep now after a feed).
- Feed her small amounts of renal food regularly throughout the day.
- Give her more water to help alleviate any constipation or other gut problem.
- Gradually make our way north with day hops until we reach Kota Kinabalu, the biggest town in Sabah, where there are many vets who may be able to give us more advice.
In the long term, we cannot keep feeding her by hand, we need to get her to eat again.
So sorry to burden you with this knowledge, but if you are reading this it means you care and we hoped you wouldn’t mind.
We have pics (large files) of all the blood tests, so if you want to take a look at them or know someone who could help, get in touch with us in the comments and we’ll send them to you. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz, Jamie and Millie xxx
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