Feline CRF Resources

Since Robin was diagnosed with chronic renal failure in November 2010, we have come across some truly invaluable websites and other resources that have really helped us get his condition under control.  Even though every cat is different, I'd like to share what works for us in the hopes that some of these things can be of help to you and your kidney cat!

The Fine Print:  Obviously, none of this information should take the place of consulting a veterinarian.  This is a very serious condition and you should consult you veterinarian before integrating any of the below into your home care routine.

A typical day in our household:

AM

Robin's day starts off with 10mg of Famotidine (generic Pepcid AC) to control his upset tummy.  Because he's such a big boy (18.6 lbs currently - believe it or not, he's slimmed down since his diagnosis!) he gets a full pill; consult your veterinarian for an appropriate dosage. We prefer the CVS store brand to Walgreens, because CVS makes the pill a bit smaller. Occasionally, we sub in Cerenia (RX only) if he is so nauseous that he won't eat; it always gets him back on track.

Robin's breakfast is 1 full can of Royal Canin Renal L/P Modified Morsels in Gravy - his favorite of the RX wet foods for his condition. I heat it up for a few minutes to "mouse temperature" - not only does he like it better, but I think it helps him digest it easier. I also use a rubber spatula to eke out every last bit of gravy - his favorite part!

Afternoon

Mid-afternoon, we begin to warm up the bag of fluids (Normosol).  Our method is to place the bag in a bath of hot water; for a full bag, this can take about 30-40 minutes (we often have to add more hot water mid-way through); as the bag empties, the process can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes.  Heating up the fluids is a little less shocking to the cat - we can always tell when the fluids didn't get warm enough because he nearly jumps off the table!

At this point, we've been doing it so long that all I have to say is "ok, it's time for your fluids" or "we're gonna plug you in now" and Robin gets up from wherever he is and follows me to the kitchen of his own volition (well, sometimes I carry him, but it's never against his will).

When the fluids are ready, one of us prepares the area (we administer them on our kitchen table - some people have a specific zone where the supplies are always set up; we've found it works best for us to do EVERYTHING - pills, eating, fluids - in one room, and Robin knows that when the the fluid set in goes back in the closet, he's done for the day).  The other person goes to fetch the cat.  Believe it or not, he doesn't always run to hide, although he does recognize the phrase we've chosen to say when it's time:  "Ok, buddy, we're going to plug you in!"  There have been several instances in recent history where he's even "asked" for his fluids (hard to explain, but others have witnessed this phenomenon and can vouch for me).


After the fluids, he gets a few pieces of spinach or baby food peas as a treat.

Evening
Robin used to get 1 cup of dry food (Royal Canin Renal L/P) at night, but near the end of 2013 he stopped being able to keep his dry food down. We tried mixing half dry with half wet for a while (with mixed results), but now we just give him wet food (heated up_ at night as well. Also, if there is any additional stuff that needs to happen - such as having his ears cleaned due to an infection - we try to do it before we feed him, so there's at least something of a food reward. He usually eats most of his food without requiring any fanfare - the easiest part of the day.

Here are links to the resources that have helped us immeasurably:

Banfield, the Pet Hospital - we've been taking them to Banfield locations since we lived in Portland.  Everyone at the location we now go to is super awesome and, despite his loathing of the vet and subsequent bad behavior, they are happy to see Robin come in the door. 

Royal Canin - Renal LP Modified (wet food) and Renal LP Modified - C (dry food) - both RX only; I order mine online from either Pet360 or Petflow.  Click here for free flat-rate shipping at Petflow with my referral (and I get a credit on my next order - thanks in advance!).

Tanya's Feline CRF Information Center - this site is full of great information - I found a lot of good advice here for administering our Sub-Q's, and the links for obtaining supplies cheaply were also extremely helpful.

Feline CRF Information Center - another great site full of information, especially helpful as you begin to navigate this new territory. 

Acu-Cat - I bought this book before Robin was diagnosed, which came in handy when we was listless, throwing up and not eating - I started massaging him on his back along his spine, and he perked up a bit and at least ate a few bites of food.  Obviously, we still took him to the vet and are pursuing traditional methods of dealing with his condition, but being able to give him some relief and joy makes me feel less helpless.  I also learned a lot about cats in general while reading this book - having grown up in a cat-free house, it was most valuable!

The Healing Touch for Cats - I bought this book after Robin was diagnosed, and while I can't say I give him massages regularly,  I can say that when he gets on my lap and wants one, he enjoys himself immensely.  Piggybacks quite well with Acu-Cat, and they both have helped me find a way to give Robin positive touch amidst all the Sub-Q's and other unpleasantries. 
These blankets are for us, right??
Pet-Safe Aromatherapy - Since I used to be a massage therapist by trade, I have lots of aromatherapy products around the house, so now I now which ones to keep in a safe, cat-free zone. Also has some good advice on safe aromatherapy for your animals, if you want to go that route.

Thriving Pets - this is where we order all of our supplies - fluid bags, IV administration sets, and needles.  I can't guarantee they have the lowest price of anywhere (but see below, someone else has done the math!!), but I find their site easy to use, their customer service to be up to snuff, and I just like the name.  Orders typically arrive in 4 days, and they recently lowered their "free shipping" offer to $55! 

Update 02/2015: I'm not so sure this is the cheapest place to get supplies any more, ever since they redesigned their website the prices have gone up quite a bit. For example, fluid bags used to be around $4 apiece and they are now more than DOUBLE that. I still order my IV Admin sets and needles from them (though I suspect there are cheaper sites out there), and now I source my fluid bags via the nearby Wal-greens, where I can get two bags for less than the new price for just one at Thriving Pets.