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Geriatric Stray

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have taken in a stray cat who was in bad shape. He had a horrible flea infestation (that's been resolved, thank goodness) and was incredibly skinny. When I picked him up, it felt like I was picking up a furry pillow. He's already had an initial vet check up, been dewormed, etc. He weighed only 6.3 pounds--I guess he ought to weigh 10.

I've noticed since I took him in that his back legs are weak. He walks normally (though a little gingerly), but has trouble jumping into a chair. Through google, I connected this to a possible symptom of diabetes. I've been keeping him to just canned food ever since, and this has definitely decreased his water intake (he was drinking a ton of water at first, but he was also very dehydrated, so who knows?).

He goes back to the vet on Wednesday for removal of bad teeth and his shots, and I will definitely have him tested for diabetes.

Has anyone ever had a cat with weak back legs due to other causes? Like malnutrition? Or old age? The vet thought he was pretty old.

Also, for those with diabetic cats whose back legs were mildly affected, did their legs improve with proper diet/treatment?

Thanks--you all have provided me with a lot of good advice already (I'm quite the lurker).
post #2 of 17
Stripe was like that sometimes from Crf.
post #3 of 17
Arthritis and Chronic Renal Failure can also cause leg weakness, as can other illnesses where the kitty doesn't feel well, and both are pretty common in older kitties. I would also make sure the vet does blood work to check for hyperthyroidism in addition to kidney values and blood sugar, since hyperthyroidism or renal failure may be cause the thinness you're seeing in the kitty. My Spot (the white and black kitty in my signature) was a stray I found. He was drinking out of a puddle and was very skinny, so I took him home. He went the vet a few hours later, and the following day he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and a heart murmur. We don't know how old he was (at least 13 years, most likely) but he was with me for 19 wonderful months before he passed from heart failure (advanced hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).

This is obviously a very lucky kitty to have found a wonderful human to take care of him. Have you given him a name yet?
post #4 of 17
Jenniver- a HUGE welcome to TCS!

I have to tell you, I now have this very large lump in my throat, having read your story.

cloud_shade has given superb advice - a complete bloodwork "panel" for a "senior" cat will tell what's going on with this guy.

Until he goes to the Vet, anything you can do to encourage him to drink would be a good idea...cats normally get their water from wet food anyway, and that probably accounts for his decreased consumption, but, a couple of things you said make me think that you should encourage his drinking. Some cats like dripping faucets...placing water dishes/bowls here and there in unusual places and changing them up...this can help. And - stick to as much wet food as you can.
post #5 of 17
Welcome and bless you for taking in this stray!

I was going to say he may be suffering from arthritis, as Cloud Shade mentioned, or even poor eating habits (malnutrition) from his life on the streets. Also, be sure to have a complete senior blood profile done on your new guy. That will tell a lot about what's going on.

To get more fluids in him, add a couple of teaspoons of water to his wet food. I have one kitty who won't eat her wet food if it's not good and soupy! I started it when she was a wee little thing, sick and malnourished and it's something she's come to expect. Now I do it just to make sure she gets enough water daily.
post #6 of 17
Good luck, I would certainly do a full blood test before a dental, and I would be suspecting kidneys rather than diabetes.
post #7 of 17
Please contact me by PM I work with many diabetic cats.
What you can do right now is get some ketodiastic reagent strips and check the urine to see if sugar is spilling in. That will give you a clue as to if there is diabetes.
If it is diabetes, the back leg problem is called neuropathy and it can be reversed with good glucose control. There are supplements you can give too.
Canned food is the right way to go but not ust any canned. Carbs should always be under 10%.This list gives the breakdown.
You should not buy or feed the vets prescription foods.They are totally worthless.
Diabetes is not a death sentence.Nolife span lost andyour cat can live a long and happy
life if you are proactive with treatment. Realize many vets just aren't up to date with this
so you will be the primary caregive. Thanks so much for rescuing and caring
post #8 of 17
Just wanted to say, bless you a zillion times over for giving this old guy a loving home. You're a cat hero.
post #9 of 17
Originally Posted by optionken View Post
You should not buy or feed the vets prescription foods.They are totally worthless.
Actually, in doing research for my son's cat, the Purina DM for Felines (canned) met our needs. I looked at what the vets recommended, what they do for humans with diabetes and the lists of what is in the food.
We've managed, on diet alone, to get Captain's blood sugar back in the normal range and her urine balls back to a normal amount. Granted, she was borderline high, but still...
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by Mom of 4 View Post
Actually, in doing research for my son's cat, the Purina DM for Felines (canned) met our needs. I looked at what the vets recommended, what they do for humans with diabetes and the lists of what is in the food.
We've managed, on diet alone, to get Captain's blood sugar back in the normal range and her urine balls back to a normal amount. Granted, she was borderline high, but still...
That is good to hear. The canned will do it only because of the lower carb content. DM canned holds no value over commercially available canned foods and is extremely poor in quality. For the money that is being payed, you can get a top quality canned food like wellness or merrick. If you look at what is in the food, you will see it is organ meat based with fillers. No muscle meat
Eventually many cats end up refusing to eat it. Best of luck.
Top of the range for diet controlled cats is about 140. If you are not testing the blood at home, you may want to get some ketos sticks to see if sugar is spilling in the urine. If so then your cat probably oes need insulin
Best of luck
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your advice. I will mention Boris' symptoms to the vet and have a blood panel and urinalysis done on him.

I've seen the low carb canned food list online: I will have to order online or place an order with the local pet store--there aren't a lot of quality cat food choices in my town. But I'll wait and see what the vet says is wrong with him.

For now Boris seems to be doing well overall--he's eating quite well, seems to be more animated (though I really don't know how much energy a cat in his situation ought to have). His back legs are still noticeably weak, but aren't any worse. His front legs seem perfectly fine--he will jump down from a higher height than he will jump up. He grooms himself and purrs alot.

When I brought this old guy home, I really thought I was just bringing him in to die more comfortably--he was sooo skinny and seemed almost indifferent to the chance of having a home and regular food. So even if he has a terminal illness, he's still doing better than I thought he would. He's really a very sweet, gentle kitty (I should know--I spent quite a while getting mats out of his fur!)
post #12 of 17
Originally Posted by Jenniver View Post
...I will mention Boris' symptoms to the vet and have a blood panel and urinalysis done on him...
I wanted to refresh my memory on a few things, so I went back to the top of the page, and I noticed this
...He goes back to the vet on Wednesday for removal of bad teeth and his shots
Is this scheduled for tomorrow?

Before dental work is undertaken, blood testing is done to determine if the patient's current health is able to withstand the surgery/procedure...it might be that he has a condition which would contraindicate the anasthesia. With dental work, in particular, a course of antibiotics needs to be started prior to and continue after the procedure.

So, unless this has been done, and if he were here, I would not move forward until I had put this to the Vet.

You can read about these and some other recommendations concerning dental work here (#2-8)

Coincidentally, there's another current thread on TCS dealing with dental work and the issues I mentioned...here.

(just a suggestion for you...request a hard copy of the bloodwork and urinanalysis reports "for your own records"...there may be issues which could be better discussed here if you have them)
post #13 of 17
Even non quality fancy feast has canned foods uner 10% carbs. Many diabetic cat owners feed it.
Please please do not get the shots for a cat in a weakened conition
The back legs, is he walking on his hocks? Thios is called neuropathy and is common in non regulated diabetocs. This can be totally reversed with regulation.
I also ask you that yif your cat does have diabetes, that you allow me to help you learn how to manage this. Many vets are not up to ate with proper treatment
post #14 of 17
Make sure that you discuss any treatment you wish to explore with your vet.

It is a strong recommendation of the site to work with your vet.

1. No online advice can replace direct veterinary intervention. If you suspect that your cat may be ill, please contact your vet immediately. You are welcome to look for advice in the health forum while waiting for that appointment, but never delay proper veterinary care waiting for Internet advice. Remember that cats, and especially kittens, are very adept in keeping pain to themselves and delaying treatment may cause irreversible damage.
post #15 of 17
I just felt the need to stress that none of us here are vets and although we have some experience, we cannot replace your vet's advice. Also always bear in mind that what one person experiences with their cat(s) may be entirely different than issues you have with your cat.

Vets are trained in medical areas - true, often they don't have great nutrition advice but for medical issues they are the ones to go to. As in everything in life, some are better than others so if you feel uncomfortable with the diagnosis of one vet, get a second opinion just as you would for any human member of your family.

Internet diagnosis and remedies are not safe for your cat since nobody on the internet can physically see and test your cat.
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
I picked Boris up from the vet this evening, and he is doing surprisingly great (should he have MORE energy now? For some reason, he does). He did do a course of antibiotics beforehand and will be continuing them for at least another week. I didn't get a chance to talk to the vet personally about the test results (there's only one vet in the clinic, and he works LONG hours, so he was on his dinner break when I came in for my cat), but he wants Boris back in a week for a BUN--so he seems to suspect the kidneys. I will discuss his lab results in detail then, and not make any diet decisions until that point either.

And don't worry--I have been going to this vet for years. I trust him a lot, but also have a good idea about where he's less informed than he could be. He's a total country vet, providing care for both farm animals and pets, and I suspect he makes his own vitamin supplements. He's taken good care of past cats of mine, and I actually came to him after a previous vet misinterpreted blood work I had done on one of my cats.

Boris does walk on his paws, not his hocks. His back legs are just rather weak for jumping. He can jump into a chair (but not a table or countertop), but I've also seen him miss on the first try. He doesn't pick up his back legs as much as it seems he should when walking. But he will stand on his back legs, with his front legs on something higher (like the door, so he can look out through the screen) when he's interested. And of course his leg function hasn't changed--it's been like this for the two weeks I've had him, and I suspect much longer (he's been in the neighborhood for months, but I thought he had a home. Long hair can hide an underweight cat. Poor guy.)

I don't think he's too sick, whatever is wrong with him. He eats well and has already put on a bit of weight, he grooms himself with all the fastidiousness a cat should have, and has a decent amount of energy. I know cats hide illness very well, but it's hard to fake a good appetite.

Thanks to everyone for their input. It helps me to know what questions to ask the vet. I've had a number of cats (I fostered cats a few years back), but probably never one this old (though it's hard to say. They so seldom admit their real age ;o)
post #17 of 17
Fingers crossed.
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