Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Big Cat Challenges

Welcome back to another edition of In-Sync Exotics' Cat Tales!  We have lots of exotic feline news to share with you, so let's get right to it!

Aramis Update

We are pleased to announce that Aramis is slowly returning to his regular diet, eating about 4 1/2 pounds of meat at dinnertime, and of course, tasty snacks throughout the day!  Hooray Aramis!

You may recall we were very concerned with his extreme change in diet (click HERE for past Aramis posting), taking him to Texas A&M Veterinary School to find a solution to his eating disorder.  We never learned what caused Aramis' change in diet; we're just so grateful he is doing much better.  We'd like to thank you for keeping Aramis in your prayers!

Right now we have Aramis on Sam-e Liver Protectant and Milk Thistle to promote liver health since his previous blood work in December 2012 showed elevated liver enzymes.  We are testing his blood this week to see if his liver enzymes improves; hopefully, we should have the results back next week.


Our grand dame of the cougars, Mercedes, was recently diagnosed as renal.  We noticed our girl was not looking her best on January 18, 2013, so we took some blood and had it tested to find out what was wrong with her.  In the meantime, we gave her subcutaneous fluids to see how she would respond; thankfully, she seemed to improve after the treatment.  On January 21st, we received the news that she is indeed renal, but we do not know if she is suffering from acute or chronic renal failure at this time.

Chronic vs. Acute Renal Failure
Acute Renal Failure (ARF) is characterized by an abrupt shutdown of kidney function, most often accompanied by reduced urine production. The primary causes of ARF in cats are: urinary obstructions, infectious diseases, trauma, and the ingestion of toxins. Our vet can treat Mercedes if she has ARF.

By comparison, Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) is a progressive, irreversible deterioration of kidney function. Because cats hide their illnesses and the very early signs of CRF are subtle, this disease may only be recognized once the cat reaches the 70% deterioration level and more dramatic symptoms are observable. CRF is one of the leading causes of illness and death in older cats today. 


The only way to know for certain whether or not Mercedes has acute or chronic renal failure is to redo her blood tests in two weeks to see if there is any improvement to her creatinine and BUN levels.   In the meantime, we've been giving Mercedes subcutaneous fluids on a daily basis since January 21st; already she seems to be doing much better and has returned to her old lovable bossy self and is eating very well.  Please keep Mercedes in your prayers as we hope her creatinine and BUN (blood urea nitrogen) levels significantly improves within the next couple of weeks.

Tacoma Update

You may recall that Tacoma went to Texas A&M Veterinary School to have his back legs and hips examined (click HERE for his past posting).  While he was sedated, the vets took the opportunity to perform a bottom-right root canal on our boy.  This was Tacoma's second root canal as he had the procedure performed once before on his upper right tooth! 

After reviewing all the medical test results, we were told by the veterinarians that Tacoma has severe osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. Before returning home, Tacoma received a steroid injection into his hip joints, with the hopes that the injection would improve his mobility.  It normally takes a couple of days for the steroids to take affect; unfortunately, we saw no improvement. 

Tacoma was also placed on Tramadol (a narcotic-like pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain), but the unintended side-effect of this medication was that Tacoma stopped eating.  So we switched him to Gabapentin, a different kind of pain-relief medication. 

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure to severe osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia. 

Our main concern at this point is keeping Tacoma mobile (walking, running, playing).  If he does not stay mobile due to excessive pain, Tacoma may eventually lose muscle tone and control.  While the pain medication helps a little, Tacoma is still in pain and keeping him on pain medication long term is not a viable option as it can damage his internal organs. 

Fortunately for Tacoma, there is a surgical way to relieve his leg and hip pain--the surgical bilateral denervation of his coxofemoral joints.  This surgery has been successfully performed on five tigers in Canada (this surgery has not been performed on any big cat in the United States) with positive results, successfully ameliorating [make or become better, more bearable] the signs of osteoarthritic pain in the five tigers.

We are in contact with the Canadian veterinarian, with the support and assistance from Texas A&M Veterinary School and the Parker Road Veterinary Hospital, and are hoping to set-up this type of surgical appointment within the next two weeks or so.    While this surgical procedure will not cure Tacoma , it will help to relieve him of the pain he's feeling right now, thereby allowing him to become more active and improve his muscle tone and bone strength.  We are hoping that by giving Tacoma Meloxicam (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) after his surgery, we can slow down his bone osteoarthritis deterioration.

We'd like to give a huge thanks to Drs. Kerin, Wallise, and Hoppes for supporting us through this unique surgery process. We will keep you apprised of Tacoma's surgical date as the information comes available!

We hope you found today's blog posting informative! Be sure to check back tomorrow for more news on our exotic cats and their friends of In-Sync Exotics! Don't forget to let us know your reaction to this posting by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below--and share this blog posting with others please ~ Thank you!



  1. Go Aramis! So glad you are eating again.
    Prayers work. Now for Mercedes and Tacoma.
    Not so worried about Mama Mercedes she is a tough sweet lady. Not to mention she will probably out live all of us.
    Still saying prayers for her though.
    Always saying prayers for Tacoma though, he is one tough boy and always in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. A lot of times my domestic cats with renal failure have high phosphorous levels. I suspect with an all natural diet (as opposed to the kibble I feed my cats) that you are not facing that particular problem.

    HOWEVER, if you are, Dougherty's pharmacy in Dallas will be happy to compound a phosphate binder; my domestics have used aluminum hydroxide. This is actually an OTC raw chemical which can be purchased online for very inexpensive, but the dosage for a petite domestic cat is so small that I don't personally have access to the measuring equipment for that low of a dose, so they mixed it in with some kind of inert substance and I had VERY good luck with that. But Mercedes probably weighs TWENTY TIMES what my domestic cat weighs (although the dosage isn't necessarily twenty times the dosage).

    One of the main issues with aluminum hydroxide in particular is it *can* cause constipation so you have to keep an eye out for that, and it will only bind phosphorous in the food the cat is actively eating. You can't give it to the cat and their blood phosphorous levels go down; you give it to them with food and the phosphorous in the food doesn't get INTO their blood.

    Also, domestic cats (and given cougars are in the same family I'd be surprised if this didn't hold true for them) with renal failure frequently can benefit from a blood pressure medication (which is, thank Bast, very inexpensive). I'm not exactly clear on how that works, but I know it takes some stress off the kidneys.

    Yes, I do know entirely too bloody much about feline renal failure. *headwall* I can even give sub-q fluids if for some ridiculous reason nobody else is available to (but I've never done it on a cat larger than a domestic...).

    I've also had my fill of liver failure for the last few months! My friend's mother died in late December and my father very nearly died at Christmas (he will recover though). I'd thank the liver failure to GO AWAY NOW KTHXBAI.

    I am so glad there is some path forward for Tacoma.