Thanks LDG and mrsgreenjeans for your replies -- sorry I'm only now back to read them.
I'm exhausted and starting to panic -- need to get a whole bunch of things done before my fall semester jobs start, but am distracted, worried, and trying to control my emotions as I watch the URD symptoms increasingly return in the cat who's finally been tapered off antibiotics after 7 months. I've done everything I'm familiar with to boost his immune system in preparation for ending the Zithromycin one week ago:
--switched them both to raw food, although it took 5 months before I made the switch (trying to keep diet a constant during the vet's diagnostic process, which still isn't conclusive)
--additional supplements: antioxidants, EFA, fermentable fiber and probiotics, dietary enzymes, (and now egg lecithin and SEB because my sweet little hoarding victim with pruritus has STILL not stopped his compulsive grooming. He came to me half naked, but now that his undercoat is finally growing in he's ingesting fur, and he recently coughed up some hairballs with bits of bone and these sticky, amber clumps of something -- mucous? but from his stomach??)
--play therapy/stimulation, low-stress environment
Despite some improvements in the past 2 months, after quitting the meds last week, the little drip at the end of his nose has now become the mucous-y yellow thread, and I need more help. I saw all the posts in the forum about GSE, and thought it might be a solution.
I don't know what else to do. I need to help him boost that immune system. Listening to all the adventitious breath sounds and not being able to help brings me to the point of tears. If there's more I can be doing, I desperately need to find out what it is.
I had a happy, healthy cat for 16 years; he was the best thing that ever happened to me. If I were to try and describe how special he was, and how truly in tune we were, it would sound like a tall tale. And in my ignorance of first-time cat "ownership," I paid him back with dry food. And he was playful and acted healthy right up until his first and only crash. The last four months of his life were spent nursing him through the acute renal failure, a fate he didn't deserve, and for which I'm to blame.
The moment my sweet kitty got sick, I put a lot of things in my life on the back burner, started researching, and basically haven't stopped.
When there was room in my heart for a new cat, I went to adopt one, was persuaded to take two, and was told that, except for the socialization/transitioning that would be necessary as a result of the abuse they suffered, they were fine and healthy, fully vetted, and shouldn't need anything before a 1-year checkup. It never occurred to me not to trust a rescue organization full of people who valued cats and gave their best energy to saving them. One week later my new kitties were at the vet; since then there have been 7 vet visits in as many months, plus tests, labs, meds, cultures, etc. I was emotionally unprepared for this (the old grief surges into new grief as I watch these lovely little guys try to deal, and I remember my fear and helplessness) but I am committed to my new babies. I love them. And yet all this new, better knowledge I have now isn't curing them. It makes me feel a bit desperate at times -- I can't help it.
My first cat came to me out of the blue, a happy accident. Until I went to consciously look for a new cat to adopt, I had no idea just how many generous people there are in the universe who knowingly rescue sick cats and struggle with their care. I also had no idea how high a percentage of adoptable cats start their lives with illnesses that will never be cured.
LDG, my earlier post was long, but I tried to explain why I gravitated toward the stronger concentrate: because GSE doesn't *appear* to be an effective citricidal at lower concentrations. The info I have to support that notion isn't great -- one decent pubmed article and a bunch of amazon reviews -- so I came here, hoping that you guys who have more experience (and cats) than I would have input -- there were so many posts in this forum about grapefruit seed extract 5 or more years ago.
I can't/won't (would be terrified to) give my cats anything I'm not reasonably sure about. The only holistic vet in my area does not treat chronic conditions.
I'll try to find time to call Nutribiotic, but I'm starting to fall dangerously behind on my job prep. Maybe it's the tiredness talking, but I'm a bit pessimistic about what the company will commit to saying. I suppose a weak, non-citricidal version of GSE might be better than none at all. But then, why give anything to a cat that's not effective/beneficial/necessary? Their systems don't tolerate a lot of messing about.
Maybe I'll have the guts to start a new thread -- with the full/correct name for GSE -- but after I find the time to do more research and/or get some info from the company.
Thanks, both of you, for replying. I've read a lot of your posts, and know that you know what you're talking about. I really do appreciate that.