On Thursday I drove to my coastal home of Newcastle to say goodbye to my long-time family cat Tiger. I had lost his sister Chelsea to the same thing that was killing him, kidney failure, just 8 months before. It was a hard pill to swallow. I’m not very good at expressing grief, but the thought of being a crazy cat lady with no cats choked me up. Fate is a cruel mistress.
Tiger is something special. He’s a lazy, fluffy ball of love. He has the calmest temperament of any animal I’ve ever meant. People who don’t like cats like him.
I writing this because I’m not really sure what else I can do. Also, I’ve missed two weeks of class and I feel like I’ve really missed out on adding my opinion to things. I started the cat kidney project to come to terms with my cat passing away. I guess mostly to confirm in my own mind that putting her down was the right thing to do. That there was no hope with a cat with non-functional kidneys.
I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m here to tell you, and believe me, I can hardly comprehend it myself, but Tiger has gotten better(ish). One of his kidneys has failed completely. It’s gone. Well, not gone, it’s still very much in his body, but it’s pretty much useless. The other kidney was both the problem and the savior.
In the process of explaining how it is that Tigs is sitting next to me right now, I’m going to learn you a little bit about cat kidneys.
Above we can see a kidney. The kidney’s main job in the blood is to filter out a nasty compound call urea and keep the levels of salts and water in the blood balanced.
When you lose this ability, urea builds up in the body and becomes toxic. Which is, obviously, not good. If you’re a person and your kidneys have decided to take a holiday, you can undergo dialysis, which basically works as an “external kidney”. Your blood is circulated out of your body, into a big fancy machine which balances salts, water and harmful toxins, then pumped back into your body. Dialysis is sometimes painful, can lead to scarring from the needle marks, is expensive and time-consuming. We could do it for cats (probably) but dialysis is usually used when waiting for a donor kidney, which isn’t usually an option for cats.
Anyway, I digress. I’m not really sure what exactly caused the failure of Chelsea or Tiger’s kidneys. The vets suspect, being from the same liter, that there might be genetic factors. No use talking about what we can’t help.
Let’s talk about the good stuff. Tiger had a build up of minerals in his ureter, in his functional kidney. This tube is extremely fine, and unfortunately, inoperable. So it looked like his bloodwork was going to fall off the wagon, toxins would build up, and we could either choose to let him slowly be poisoned by his own metabolic processes, or put him down ourselves. Which, all things considered, is a shitty decision to have to make.
Which brings me to Thursday. I drove up, came in for a pat with Tigs, and waited for the vet’s word. On Friday, by some grace of god, Tiger had cleared the blockage in ureter, and the levels of urea in his blood began to drop.
I’m not saying we’re out of the woods yet. He’s still sick, and weak. There is still a partial blockage in his ureter, which could become a full blockage again at any time. If it means I’ve gotten even just one more day of him by my side though, I guess all the pain is worth it.