Kidney diet for cats

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navigator9

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I took my cat with the thyroid problem back to the vet to have her bloodwork checked, and it was good news/bad news. Good news, her thyroid levels are so good that we can cut that med in half. Bad news, her kidney values are not so good, so she needs to start on a kidney diet. Really bad news, an 8.5 lb. bag of Hill's Science KD diet costs $42.99, and the little one serving cans are $1.38 apiece. I've looked online, but I can't find it cheaper by more than a couple of dollars, and then with shipping, it's even more. So I was wondering if by any chance someone out there may know of a source where it's cheaper. I'm not holding out much hope, but you never know, unless you ask. Keeping my fingers crossed.
 

osso

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No, the stuff is expensive. The Hill's reps often give out coupons though, $10 or $15 sometimes. If I get my hands on some I'll be happy to send them your way (pet store perks).
 

navigator9

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No, the stuff is expensive. The Hill's reps often give out coupons though, $10 or $15 sometimes. If I get my hands on some I'll be happy to send them your way (pet store perks).
Thanks osso, that would be much appreciated. :)
 

Susie

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Your vet also gets free KD and many coupons (my sister-in-law's mother worked at one for many years). Ask them if they would be so kind as to save you some coupons. Explain to them that this is too expensive for your current budget, and you may have to either feed the cat regular food, or put her down.
 

dixiedragon

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Is making your own food an option? Canned food is very expensive! I was googling these same issues and according to my research, it is the high-protein foods that are hard on their kidneys, especially as they age.

I feed Orijen, which has the highest fat content of any dry food. (Also the most expensive, sigh). In your shoes, I would do some research on making your own food and ask your vet what he/she thinks. For example, maybe you can get some lard or tallow, or even suet, and mix that with your food?
 

Serene

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Navigator,

This site will be helpful. http://www.felinecrf.org
My Evan died last year. He was diagnosed when he was 8 years old and lived to be 18.

I am not going to give you a brand name to buy but I never went with any of the prescribed food. Here are the guidelines I followed:


  • No fish ever. Phosphorus has to be low. Ideally you want a food with a level of 0.5% or lower.
  • Very limited dry food. I had to put all 3 of my cats on a schedule. The food needs to be low in protein. Protein 28.8 or lower
  • Wet food once or twice a day.. I feed them twice a day. Morning and late afternoon. It helps increase the water intake.
  • No wheat, no corn, no soy
There are plenty of other options that are cheaper you just have to look for it.

There is also the option of feeding raw. I was not able to make that work due to having a cat with sensitive stomach that could not deal with raw.


Here are pictures of my Evan. I miss him so much.


Sere

Disclaimer: I am not a Vet. Please do your research. What worked for my cat may not necessarily work for others. It is always smart to consult with your Vet and see if he or she is willing to work with you with another alternative other than the prescribed food. I am lucky that I have a Vet that has been willing to work with me in all aspects of keeping my cats healthy. She allows me to have a say and is not afraid to tell me when I am acting like the crazy cat lady. Having a good Vet that is not in it for the money is paramount to helping you make smart decisions in regards to what is best for your cat.


My Evan.jpg


Prettyboy1.jpg
 
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kchaystack

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My Karma (a 18yo black tabby) is on Hills. He was on the KD for a bit, but it caused him to have horrible tummy troubles. He also would not eat more than half a can at a time. So we switched him to WD. He has to have wet food (he only has 3 teeth left) and it is about $43 a case. He has 2 cans a day - tho he would eat more - but that makes him sick to his stomach.

Last time i went they had some coupons - now that I know about them I will ask.

I have read about making your own food. While I would be happy to do this - the amount of time required to do this is huge. I just do not have the time to do it.
 

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I recently lost one of my fur babies with kidney issues so I've done a lot of research on food.

I will preface this with a couple of things. Food research will drive you INSANE. There is so much information (and misinformation) out there.

Vets aren't always the unbiased source of information you would hope they were. This is NOTHING against Vets who, for the most part, probably got into their field because of the desire to help animals. It's just that the education system is set up and paid for in many ways by commercial food companies that give them minimal training on nutrition and teach them to rely on prescription pet foods. Yes, I know some people consider this tinfoil hat territory, but there are a lot surprising facts on this.

Many of the ingredients in the expensive prescription foods are the same/worse than other sources.

That being said, after making myself insane, I realized that the best I could do was research, talk to my vet and come up with a plan I was comfortable with.

My google search started with "prescription feline kidney diet alternatives" and never seemed to end :)

In the end, if you're interested in alternatives to the food itself it's a journey you'll have to take to figure out what you're comfortable with and what makes sense to you.

Just a couple of quick notes on the off chance you decide to go this route. From what I learned, one of the most important things with kidney health is keeping the cat hydrated. This means no dry food since that actually dehydrates them more. Cats tend to have a very low thirst drive, the best way to get water into them is through their food.

If you decide to make your own food, run from any site that doesn't talk about things like taurine and other supplements that may need to be added.

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid mostly found in muscle meat and organs like heart, kidney and liver and in seafood. In muscles, taurine gets more concentrated the harder the muscle works.
Taurine deficiency is most commonly seen in cats who are given dog food in their diet or home made diets which are not adequately supplemented. Taurine begins to degrade when cooked, especially in water. If you are feeding a home prepared diet, please speak to your veterinarian to ensure that all your cat's nutritional needs are being met.

Best of luck with whatever road you decide to take. Having sick pets is never easy.
 

dixiedragon

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@ Stacy - I've actually heard the same thing. of course, they could also be biased, but most pet store people I've talked to have a lot of disdain for Hill's. Hill's spends a lot of time and money educating and "educating" vet students, wining and dining them during their college years, etc.

@kchaystack - you say it is very time consuming - I'm just curious how? In your shoes, I would join some cat forums, get some tentative recipes, then run them by your vet. I'd think you could grind the stuff up in your food process and freeze it in individual portions? So you could make enough food for several months at one time? (Unless your freezer space is very limited).
 

navigator9

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Your vet also gets free KD and many coupons (my sister-in-law's mother worked at one for many years). .
Good idea, thanks.

Is making your own food an option? Canned food is very expensive! I was googling these same issues and according to my research, it is the high-protein foods that are hard on their kidneys, especially as they age.
I've been checking that out online, and it looks like you need to add a lot of supplements to the food you prepare, so that it probably ends up being as expensive as the commercial food, but I'm going to talk to my vet about that further.

Navigator,

This site will be helpful. http://www.felinecrf.org
My Evan died last year. He was diagnosed when he was 8 years old and lived to be 18.
Thanks so much for that site, loads of great info there. And thanks for the pics of your Evan, such a beautiful boy. I know how hard it is to miss them, but I believe we'll see them again.

My Karma (a 18yo black tabby) is on Hills. He was on the KD for a bit, but it caused him to have horrible tummy troubles. He also would not eat more than half a can at a time. So we switched him to WD. He has to have wet food (he only has 3 teeth left) and it is about $43 a case. He has 2 cans a day - tho he would eat more - but that makes him sick to his stomach.
Mimi is on both the dry Hills Science kidney diet, and the canned Hills. She seems to love the canned, and tolerates the dry. It's only been a short time, so we'll see how it goes. She still gets medication twice a day, and another every third day. I'm thinking about mixing the wet with the dry, because I mix her meds in with her food, and I want to be sure she eats it all, and gets the meds.
We love them, so it's all worth it. I wish you luck with your Karma!
 

kchaystack

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The recipes that I found talked about grinding bone and long prep times. Plus, it did not freeze well - and I only have one small freezer on top of my fridge. I do not remember all of it as it was 3 years ago that I looked. I do have more time now - but he is doing well on the vet food. I am able to afford it. So I will spend the time I would spend in the kitchen petting him. haha
 

lenarenee

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Navigator, (Sorry, this is a long post and may be more info than you wanted)

If your kitty has crf, then the website that Serene mentioned is a fantastic resource. Also, check with Cornell University veterinary school website where they're researching kidney disease.

The amount of information, and the amount of disagreement regarding treatment can be overwhelming.

My Sheba had crf for 4 years, died at 18 and NOT because of her kidneys. '

Here's an extremely short version of my experience:

Hills, Purina, Eukanuba, Royal Canin have kidney formulas for cats. 3 years ago, Hills KD was filled with all sorts of crap that I wouldn't have normally let my cat eat. Hopefully their formula has improved.

Veterinarians get very little training in nutrition - and often what they get is taught by .....cat food company reps!!! I stopped seeing one vet because she didn't understand why she was telling me to feed my cat Royal Canin kidney food!

*Quality of protein can be more important than the quantity. This has to do with how the protein is digested, and what amino acids the cat's body needs most.

*Phosphorous (and something else..another mineral?) is also an extremely important factor in kidney disease.

*Cat food company websites have lots of info on nutrition and renal disease....but verify it! Hills website was filled with bad info about 5 years ago. (I can't recommend Tanya's crf website or Cornell University enough!)


Making your own cat food is extremely complicated and involves exacting amounts of vitamins and minerals. Ideally, homemade food should be lab tested to ensure the nutrient content because a lack of taurine and other things are deadly to a cat. Its very easy to malnourish a cat on homemade cat food. I gave it up.

My cat would not eat the kidney diet foods, despite mixing them with "real" food and whatever tricks we could come up with. I fed her what she would eat. For a while, it was high quality cat food with no grains or vegetables (cats are obligate carnivores). When she quit eating that, all she would eat was fish flavored Fancy Feast (fish=bad for kidneys, Fancy Feast=crappy quality food)

I really stressed over food choices and spent tons of money on every single honking food ever made, and still ended up with Fancy Feast. The vet gave me the option of force feeding her the RX food. I did that once. Then I realized I would not want to be treated that way. I choose her quality of live, over quantity of life.

I stopped stressing.

The last 3 months of her life she ate cat treats and homemade cooked chicken liver. She died of what we think was cancer. When she didn't enjoy her life, we helped end it.

I gave her subcutaneous fluids 3 times a week. It's a bit of a controversial therapy because supposedly it is more work on the kidneys. However, it can help the cat feel better because more toxins are washed out, and helps with the dehydration.

The kidney disease may worsen her thyroid condition later.

Crf can cause excess stomach acid (my cat ended up on famotidine). Not all acid blockers are safe for cats - and not all vets know which one is best!

Feel free to ask questions.

Sorry you and your cat have to deal with this. And don't forget to look into the other kidney formulas and prices. Let us know how it goes.
 

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Have you checked chewy.com? They were a life saver in terms of cat litter (I'm not one for walking a mile home with a 40lb bag of litter, lol) and shipping is free at the $50 (otherwise, they have a flat-rate shipping). There are also some alternatives to feeding Hill's as well,as far as dry and canned are concerned but it may take some leg work and some research on your end. I say this only because Hill's is overpriced and just horrible in regards to having corn/wheat in pet foods. Here's another page to check out: http://www.catinfo.org/?link=cannedfoods
 

Arimara

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The recipes that I found talked about grinding bone and long prep times. Plus, it did not freeze well - and I only have one small freezer on top of my fridge. I do not remember all of it as it was 3 years ago that I looked. I do have more time now - but he is doing well on the vet food. I am able to afford it. So I will spend the time I would spend in the kitchen petting him. haha
Not to double post but if that's what you mean, there's a company that sells supplement packets that include the calcium needed for your cat. All you need are the organ meats (maybe, don't quote me) and the meat itself. It could still take a while but not the length of time needed to grind up bones. Or, at the very least, look in to Bravo! when they are not having one of their recalls going on.
 

lenarenee

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No, the stuff is expensive. The Hill's reps often give out coupons though, $10 or $15 sometimes. If I get my hands on some I'll be happy to send them your way (pet store perks).
Yes and doesn't that tell you exactly how massively overpriced it is??? Taking advantage of pet owners with ill cats!!

My last veterinarian refused to carry Hills because 1) it was crappy quality, 2) they were part of the huge pet food recall for melanine and slow to recall despite illness and death of pets 3) exorbitant prices

Fancy Feast's company, by the way as of 2015 bought fish from overseas suppliers that use slave labor.
 

Serene

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Lenarenee,

I went through 4 vets before I found the one I have been using for years. A couple of them "fired" me because I refused to feed Evan Science diet. It is so hard to find a good Vet that truly cares.
One of the Vets went so far as to taste the food himself when he opened a can to show me how "safe" the food was. He could not understand what my issue with the food was. I put Evan in the carrier and told him to call me in a week and be sure to tell me how he felt after eating that food for a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The look was priceless.

Sere
 

lenarenee

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Lenarenee,

I went through 4 vets before I found the one I have been using for years. A couple of them "fired" me because I refused to feed Evan Science diet. It is so hard to find a good Vet that truly cares.
One of the Vets went so far as to taste the food himself when he opened a can to show me how "safe" the food was. He could not understand what my issue with the food was. I put Evan in the carrier and told him to call me in a week and be sure to tell me how he felt after eating that food for a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The look was priceless.

Sere
Oh wow! Wish I had a picture of that! That was definitely a doctor that hadn't educated himself on feline nutrition and simply went with the status quo.

I couldn't believe the sight and smell of the Hill's Science diet kidney formula - the food was dead gray - and smelled worse. No cat food looks or smells good to humans but the Hill's was just miserable!

Yes, finding a veterinarian that works with you, instead of dictating to you can be difficult. I found the perfect one in Maryland, but then had to move to CA. Brought all the records and such with me, and went through 4 more vets who refused the records and crf diagnosis and wanted to start the exams process all over. Finally found an excellent vet who honored my wish for my cat's comfort and happiness over doing all possible treatments (including kidney transplant!). In the end, she told me she would have made the same choices for her cat that I made.

The final moments of my cat's life were outside the vet's office under a quiet shady tree. She rested in the leaves - relaxing away from the smells and sounds of a doctor's office. I got to hold her, and it was an effortless death. What more could I ask for?
 

lenarenee

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I recently lost one of my fur babies with kidney issues so I've done a lot of research on food.

I will preface this with a couple of things. Food research will drive you INSANE. There is so much information (and misinformation) out there.

Vets aren't always the unbiased source of information you would hope they were. This is NOTHING against Vets who, for the most part, probably got into their field because of the desire to help animals. It's just that the education system is set up and paid for in many ways by commercial food companies that give them minimal training on nutrition and teach them to rely on prescription pet foods. Yes, I know some people consider this tinfoil hat territory, but there are a lot surprising facts on this.

Many of the ingredients in the expensive prescription foods are the same/worse than other sources.

That being said, after making myself insane, I realized that the best I could do was research, talk to my vet and come up with a plan I was comfortable with.

My google search started with "prescription feline kidney diet alternatives" and never seemed to end :)

In the end, if you're interested in alternatives to the food itself it's a journey you'll have to take to figure out what you're comfortable with and what makes sense to you.

Just a couple of quick notes on the off chance you decide to go this route. From what I learned, one of the most important things with kidney health is keeping the cat hydrated. This means no dry food since that actually dehydrates them more. Cats tend to have a very low thirst drive, the best way to get water into them is through their food.

If you decide to make your own food, run from any site that doesn't talk about things like taurine and other supplements that may need to be added.






Best of luck with whatever road you decide to take. Having sick pets is never easy.

Well said, and good info!
 

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