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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 26889
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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She is old, doddering, and guarding the water dish. Doesn't

Customer Question

She is old, doddering, and guarding the water dish. Doesn't seem to be in pain, I'm afraid she is going to die.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the cat's name and age?
Customer: Rosie, 13, which isn't old, but she's never been "sturdy."
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the cat?
Customer: Lost weight over the past few months... only eats wet food really well now.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Rosie. "Guarding the water disk" as you nicely described is pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of profound dehydration in our cats. Cats are desert animals and don't understand when they need to drink more than usual. That behavior demonstrates the conflict between needing to drink and resisting doing so. At 13 years of age there are quite a few age-related disorders to consider but chronic renal failure is by far the most common of them.

Rosie's behavior should prompt her vet to perform a thorough physical exam including diagnostics in the form of blood and urine tests. You should know within 24 hours why Rosie is behaving in that manner, has lost weight, and is selectively eating. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
How treatable is renal failure, as in successful generally, and would the treatment reverse the cause; or is this typically and "end of life" phase for cats?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

Rosie's prognosis would be predicated upon how severe her renal failure was upon diagnosis. We can't reverse the underlying kidney degeneration but we can improve kidney function with the prudent administration of supplemental fluids, drugs, and an appropriate renal diet. Yes, it is a very common limiting factor of longevity in cats. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
From layman's perspective, it is severe, but really only recently... she seemed to go "downhill" badly this week. Is she in pain, would it be more humane to euthanize?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

You're describing "acute on chronic" symptoms; in other words, a chronic process has existed and exacerbated to the point of appearing acute. Feeling "toxic" (like a "dishrag") is more likely than pain. Euthanasia may be recommended by the vet following review of Rosie's test results.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for the information, we are headed to the vet's office now.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

You're quite welcome. I'm pleased to hear that Rosie will be attended to promptly. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.