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Senior cat health check - what to ask vet?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Jaffa is off to the vet on Thursday morning for his annual vaccinations and health check. As he's now 9 I want to take the opportunity to give him a bit of a thorough check up so that if he has any problems they can be picked up early on. I've booked him in for a senior blood panel, although I'm not entirely sure what that involves over here (kidney and liver function I guess, but I don't know if anything else is routinely tested for). I did tell the receptionist that I wanted his thyroid checking, as I don't think that's included in standard blood tests.

He had a dental 5 months ago and the pre-op blood tests showed that something to do with his kidneys was slightly high. I'm not sure exactly what was high but the vet said it was nothing to worry about and could be due to him being dehydrated as a result of fasting for the op. She recommended he be tested again in 6 months time. He's been vomiting a bit lately, but not too often - about once a fortnight - and it's nearly always on an empty stomach so that all he brings up is a bit of bile. He's never been a great vomiter and doesn't have a problem with hairballs so that's started to worry me a bit, although I did change his food a few months ago so I don't know if that could be causing the vomiting. He's not showing any other signs of ill health - eating and pooping normally, no drinking excessively, and is his normal self in every other way.

I was just wondering whether anyone had any suggestions as to what I should ask the vet about or any specific tests I should request? The vets I use is a postgraduate teaching centre which is good in many ways, and I'm happy using them, but it does mean that you get seen by a series of interns who are newly qualified, so I'd like to have an idea in my own mind about what things I want to discuss with them before I go.
post #2 of 22
I have a 15 year old cat named Snowball. Five years ago the pre-op blood tests for HIS dental showed early kidney disease. The best time to catch kidney disease is in the very beginning when there will be no obvious signs of trouble brewing. So you definitely should ask about Jaffa's kidney function and expecially ask the vet if his creatin level is elavated. Special foods have been developed for cats with kidney problems, and they really help slow down the progression of the disease. Ask the vet if a special food is indicated for Jaffa.
post #3 of 22
If this is the first "true " senior ... I would make sure it covered kidney, liver , t4 and the other thyroid and all other major organs ( think the vet called it enzymes)
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorie D. View Post
I have a 15 year old cat named Snowball. Five years ago the pre-op blood tests for HIS dental showed early kidney disease. The best time to catch kidney disease is in the very beginning when there will be no obvious signs of trouble brewing. So you definitely should ask about Jaffa's kidney function and expecially ask the vet if his creatin level is elavated. Special foods have been developed for cats with kidney problems, and they really help slow down the progression of the disease. Ask the vet if a special food is indicated for Jaffa.
Hi Lorie!! I'm so happy to see that Snowball is still alive and kicking! ChiChi (my parents 17yr old CRF) is also still going! 2 years now since being diagnosed with CRF.

I'd definately request a full blood panel and urinalysis.
post #5 of 22
Besides asking the vet for the creatinine level as Lorie D suggested, be sure to ask for the BUN (which is short for Blood Urea Nitrogen) and the potassium (may be listed in the test results as K+) and phosphorous levels. These 4 (along with calcium levels) are very important to know when evaluating how your kitties kidneys are doing.

You would also want to be sure to know what the hemaglobin (Hgb) and hematocrit (Hct) results are, to check for any degree of anemia.

I think the test you requested (senior panel) with thyroid function should cover things. I honestly would ask them to also do a cystocentesis obtained Urinalysis to check your kitties urine specific gravity (kitties in kidney failure will have dilute urine). The cystocentesis is quick, never seems to traumatize my cats (the sound of it is traumatizing to the human!), and is the best way to get an accurate, aka non-contaminated, urine sample. It's common to do here in the US, not sure if that is the case in your country.
They perform this with a very thin needle, no shaving of fur, just carefully insert through the skin into the bladder and withdraw the sample.

Once you have your lab results, please check this site out - www.felinecrf.org - it is not only the best one I have ever found on the topic of diagnosis, explanation of, and treatment of Chronic Renal Failure and the related issues that go along with it. Even better for you, it was written by a UK gal, who gives the conversion tables (for those who move to the US and have to convert their test scores to the US version) and sites in the UK for purchasing various supplies.

Please keep us posted on what you find out.
post #6 of 22
Pat

YOu are wonderful I need to ask for a few of those results
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Pat

YOu are wonderful I need to ask for a few of those results
Now cut that out!
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your suggestions. I'll make a note of all the tests etc. you've recommended and discuss them with the vet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky
If this is the first "true " senior ... I would make sure it covered kidney, liver , t4 and the other thyroid and all other major organs ( think the vet called it enzymes)
Yes this will be his first senior health check. Up til now he's only had a visual check when he's had his vaccinations and, apart from a few bouts of conjuncitivitis in the past few years, he's been in excellent health and not needed to go to the vet for anything else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorie D. View Post
I have a 15 year old cat named Snowball. Five years ago the pre-op blood tests for HIS dental showed early kidney disease. The best time to catch kidney disease is in the very beginning when there will be no obvious signs of trouble brewing. So you definitely should ask about Jaffa's kidney function and expecially ask the vet if his creatin level is elavated. Special foods have been developed for cats with kidney problems, and they really help slow down the progression of the disease. Ask the vet if a special food is indicated for Jaffa.
That's encouraging to hear - how is Snowball now? Does he have kidney failure or did you manage to stop/slow down the progression of any disease?
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicycat View Post
ChiChi (my parents 17yr old CRF) is also still going! 2 years now since being diagnosed with CRF.
Yay!
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
That's encouraging to hear - how is Snowball now? Does he have kidney failure or did you manage to stop/slow down the progression of any disease?
Snowball is doing very well. He is considered to be in kidney failure, but thanks to the vet catching the disease in the early stages and immidiately prescribing a special diet, we managed to slow down the progression of the disease. After five years, Snowball still hasn't reached the point where he needs to have fluids administered under his skin, so I think we have been very fortunate. Do you have any updates for us on Jaffa's vet appointment?


Sicy!!!!!! It's so good to see your post! I remember reading about ChiChi on some of your earlier posts, and I'm glad he's still doing well also!!!!
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorie D. View Post
Snowball is doing very well. He is considered to be in kidney failure, but thanks to the vet catching the disease in the early stages and immidiately prescribing a special diet, we managed to slow down the progression of the disease. After five years, Snowball still hasn't reached the point where he needs to have fluids administered under his skin, so I think we have been very fortunate. Do you have any updates for us on Jaffa's vet appointment?
That's so encouraging to hear. Although I know that being diagnosed with CRF isn't an immediate death sentence, I always thought the condition would deteriorate quicker than that. It's very good to hear that if Jaffa does have early stage kidney disease it could be many years before it becomes serious.

I've actually had to postpone Jaffa's vet visit due to work commitments so he's now going on Monday morning. I'll let you know what his results are.
post #12 of 22
Early diagnosis and beginning of treatment really does make a difference. Patrick had almost 4 years after diagnosis, and there are a number of kitties on my support list that have lived 6 or more years from diagnosis of crf.

I'll be looking for your next update, keeping my fingers crossed.
post #13 of 22
Fingers crossed for tomorrow Susanne, and I hope his kidney issues were just a result of fasting - my new vets dont do thyroid tests unless they can feel an enlarged thyroid, as they have never had a cat with hyper-t unless they have felt it. Everything else they can do in house for me - do yours have to be sent off? My old vets refused to do a cystocentesis - but they also preferred you to get a sample at home, despite the fact that Tom was a nightmare and I generally gave up after a week of trying!! They did say though that it wasn't something they could do in the timespan of a normal app, so they would have to spend part of the day at the vets for that.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm back, but it wasn't a very satisfying visit. When I got there there was no vet! He hadn't turned up so I couldn't have a vet appt. Initially I was rather p'd off as I'd been expecting to have a vet consultation to discuss what we should test for as well as a few other issues related to general care, and he is also due his boosters. I hadn't realised they wouldn't give him the boosters until they'd had the test results back anyway, so I'd have had to go back for those even if a vet had been present. The nurse took some blood and that is being sent away for a full senior panel including thyroid (inc T4). They should have the results on wednesday so I will then book another appt for the vaccinations and to discuss the test results and other stuff with the vet. I now just have to make it up to Jaffa for putting him through the whole thing
post #15 of 22
That sounds really odd, I dont know why they wouldnt give boosters without - most cat owners dont want blood tests doing at the same time and they get jabs. And how frustrating to have to go through two appointments.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I don't know why they wouldn't give boosters before getting the results, either I'm guessing that since I requested blood tests they just want to know the results before they go ahead with the boosters, just on the off chance that they showed him to be unwell.

In retrospect, it's probably worked out for the best this way as I avoided paying a consultation fee yesterday and I'll get the results over the telephone, so if there's anything abnormal I can do a bit of research before taking Jaffa back for his boosters/annual health check and discuss them fully with the vet then. There'll be no consultation fee to pay then either as he'll be having his boosters so that will be good. Jaffa won't be too thrilled with having to go back, but he's forgiven me for yesterday. I bought him a remote control mouse to make it up to him and he loves it
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
Jaffa won't be too thrilled with having to go back, but he's forgiven me for yesterday. I bought him a remote control mouse to make it up to him and he loves it
Tee hee...toys or treats make wonderful bribes/forgive me presents
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've got his results now and everything seems fairly normal. His kidneys are fine It was his urea that was high before (but still within normal range) but that is lower this time and the vet said it was fine. It was 11mmol/L last time but down to 10.2 this time. His creatinine is 168 which appears to be towards the top end of normal range. Do those values sound ok? I didn't have time to discuss anything much with the vet as he was really busy. I'm going back with Jaffa next week for his vaccinations and will discuss them fully with him then.

There were a few things that were slightly too high or too low (marked with an asterisk by the lab) which is what I'll be discussing, mainly:

total protein 83g/L (normal range 54-80)
globulin 47 g/L (normal range 25-45)
Sodium/potassium ratio 27 (nomal range 32-41)
Glucose 9.1mmol/L (normal range 3.5-6.6)

And on the haemotology front (not sure what all these abbreviations stand for)

HCT 51.7% (normal range 27-50)
MCV 57fl (normal range 40-55)
MCHC 28.7g/dl (normal range 30-36.5)
lymphocytes 25% 1.05 (normal range 1.2-7)

general comments re blood examination are that red cells appear normocytic and normochromic (I think that means they're ok?) and that white cells appear normal despite mild lymphopaenia (ref to slightly low lymphocyte count above I'm guessing).

I'm not worrying about things being a little bit higher or lower than normal ranges as I guess those have to be looked at in context, and the vet will be able to discuss what they mean for Jaffa, but is there anything there that I should specifically ask about? Does his glucose level appear high? That's the only one that seems to be more than a little out of the normal range but I think I read somewhere that stress can cause that to be a little higher than normal? These are all fasting levels, btw.
post #19 of 22
I cant diseminate those results due to only having human training.. but it overall sounds great and I am so glad youll talk with the vet about the not quite normal ranges
post #20 of 22
I am sure the vet will be able to put your mind at rest - I know when Tom had his bloodtest, one thing was slightly higher, and one slightly lower, but he did say that they pretty much balanced each other out, so hopefully that will be the same for Jaffa.
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yeh - I think most of the results are so marginally higher or lower than the reference ranges that there's nothing to worry about. The vet will be able to say whether looked at together (and with examining Jaffa) he thinks there's anything I should be concerned about.

I am going to ask him whether I should pay attention to his diet re kidney function at this stage, given the fact that his results were towards the upper end of normal. I don't want to wait until they are at the level where he is diagnosed with CRF before I take action if I can prevent them progressing that far. Does anyone know whether feeding a diet lower in phosphorous is harmful to a healthy cat?
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
Yeh - I think most of the results are so marginally higher or lower than the reference ranges that there's nothing to worry about. The vet will be able to say whether looked at together (and with examining Jaffa) he thinks there's anything I should be concerned about.

I am going to ask him whether I should pay attention to his diet re kidney function at this stage, given the fact that his results were towards the upper end of normal. I don't want to wait until they are at the level where he is diagnosed with CRF before I take action if I can prevent them progressing that far. Does anyone know whether feeding a diet lower in phosphorous is harmful to a healthy cat?

Lowering phos technically shouldnt but by doing that you likely would be lowering the protein ( senior cats in dry 26-32 seems to be accepted).... If you are just looking at slight lowering check for foods under on % ... somewhere there is a list
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