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LennyDVM, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 548
Experience:  30 years as owner of a mobile practice treating dogs, cats, horses and other pets.
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Persian: 17 year old male..neutered..stiff, weak and wobbly..back legs

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I have a 17 year old male (neutered) Persian. In the last 15 months his weight has dropped 50%, he is stiff, weak and wobbly in his back legs.   He has been eating Royal Canin Renal formula food relatively well for about a year. He gets 1/2 a 5mg methimazole tablet daily, also some crushed lycene, both given in Greenies pill pockets. The latest problem is that he is nibbling on his clay litter, between that and the water he drinks, he has no appetite or room in his tiny stomach for food. What is he craving that he is finding in the litter? I know he's nearing the end but of course I want to do the best I can for him as long as possible.

Anemia is associated with pica (eating non-food substances) in cats. Anemia is very common in chronic renal failure since erythropoeitin, which stimulates red blood cell production, is made in the kidney and is decreased in renal failure.


MOst kitty litter products contain bentonite, which is toxic when eaten and causes anemia, low blood potassium, lethargy, muscle weakness and ataxia (loss of coordination). Bentonite may also inhibit iron absorption.


Blood work to confirm anemia and potassium levels would help determine if either iron or potassium should be supplemented. Erythropoeitin injections are quite expensive, but do a good job of increasing the red cells.


Change kitty litter to one of the paper litter products to eliminate the consumption of bentonite might be beneficial.


At home administration of subcutaneous fluids is beneficial to cats in renal failure. It helps get rid of toxic by products of normal metabolism. Some cats tolerate this well and others hate it. If they really fight it the benefits are not worth the decreased quality of life.


Let me know if you have follow up questions.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX a different litter tonight. I've been avoiding the stress a trip to his veterinarian causes, but I guess some blood work is called for. Do you think this can wait until Monday, or should we take him to a walk-in/emergency clinic sooner? He hasn't eaten more than a bite or two of cat food since last evening, but is alert and as active as usual. He shows more interest in our food than his own, (he doesn't get any). He looks for pill pockets hours before his medicine is due, so he does have a some appetite. It's so frustrating to outlast a cat boycotting his food, especially when he needs every bite you can get in him.

He should be able to wait until Monday. He should last, but if he doesn't being seen a day earlier most likely won't be the reason. The stress of emergency clinics is high and adversely affects the animal. It's a game of risk and benefit. From what you describe the risk is higher going to an emergency clinic than waiting to see the regular vet.


If he wants people food, let him have some. Chicken, eggs, a small amount of beef will provide high quality protein and will not not ruin his low protein diet. Cats require protein to metabolize glucose. It is one of the unique aspects of their metabolism. Eating something is better than nothing even if that means the diet isn't perfect.

LennyDVM and 2 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you very much. We'll do the best we can for him, and love him till the end.
That is all anyone can do or ask. Take care.