Tag Archives: veterinary medicine

Feline Chronic Renal Failure

I found my beautiful black kitty Maya about a year and a half ago. Well, maybe she found me.

Beautiful GirlAnyway, she has had urinary problems since I’ve had her. So when I got a job in a vet clinic I decided to bring her in to check a urine sample. He decided to take x-rays to make sure she didn’t have any bladder stones. On the x-ray there were no bladder stones but he notice her kidney was a little oddly shaped. So we did some blood work and the results were definitely not what I expected. Kidney disease, or in other words, chronic renal failure.

I just can’t catch a break. My late best-cat-friend-love-of-my-life, Boo, died from chronic renal failure. It is a hard way to go because they just waste away until there is nothing left. And it’s a hard thing to watch when it’s your baby.


So what is this disease all about? It is very common in cats so I’ll provide some information on it because  if you are an avid cat owner you will likely get firsthand experience with this at some point.

In order to know what happens when the kidneys fail, it first helps to know what the kidneys do while they are working.

  • erythropoietin production, which is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production (without it anemia sets in).
  • filtration of waste products in the blood (a build up of waste in the blood is going to make anyone feel sick).
  • the ability to concentrate urine, which can affect hydration.
  • renin production, which is a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure.
  • electrolyte regulation

All of these functions are critical for a good quality of life. When these are impaired quality of life goes down, and will eventually get to a point where life ceases.

The bad thing about this disease is that symptoms don’t start to show up until the kidneys are about 70% destroyed. There is no cure but there are things you can do to slow the progression of the disease, although it will progress to the end unfortunately.

So what are the symptoms?

Maya’s symptom was an abnormal amount of water intake and urination. I kept thinking it was a UTI but it is actually one of the early symptoms of kidney disease. My advice to you: if you have a cat who is drinking a lot more than usual, spend the extra money on a blood test. Blood tests can either rule out kidney failure or show that it is happening. It is better to know early so you can start diet modifications and treatment, which in the end will extend the life of your companion.

Symptoms of more advanced renal failure include:

  • decrease in appetite
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • uremic breath (smells like ammonia)

There are different stages to kidney failure and the symptoms above don’t start to show up until the advanced stages. I could write a book on feline chronic renal failure so I’ll just stop with this introduction. I will add more posts at a later time with more specific information about this topic.


My goal for my life at this point: Become a veterinarian and find a cure/really great affordable treatment for feline chronic renal failure.






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One Year

It’s been a year since I lost my best friend. She’s the reason I study hard so I can make the grades I need to get into vet school. Eventually I would like to specialize in feline geriatric medicine so I can help cats like Boo, who had chronic renal failure. Nothing can replace that human-animal bond and I want to do anything I can to help preserve that for others.

I miss my Boo.



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Feline Heartworm Awareness

Heartworm disease is often thought of as something that only afflicts dogs but  is in fact something that affects cats as well. There is a difference between the way this parasite effects cats though. Since there are no approved treatments for heartworm in cats, prevention is the best medicine.

Infection happens when a mosquito bites and infected animal and transmits the larvae into a new host. For cats, it is possible for them to fight them off on their own and not have a problem. However, if the cat gets infected there really isn’t much that can be done about it. This map shows areas in the United States where heartworm is most prevalent. If you live in an area that doesn’t see many cases, then a preventative for an indoor cat may be a waste of money. But if you live in an area where heartworm is common, it may be a good idea to invest in preventative medicine, especially for cats who go outdoors. Indoor cats are still at risk, as mosquitoes are able to get inside.

I made a graphic for my photo class about heartworm and I’ll share it here.

Some good sites for more information on heartworm are:



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Size does matter: A pig’s reproductive troubles

photo by sara

A boar came into the vet the other day with some reproductive issues. His owner said the pig’s penis was unable to externalize causing him to be unable to breed. This of course had left the pig sexually frustrated which leads to sexual aggression. There was a little pocket on this pig that they thought the penis was going into instead of coming outside of the body when erect. He also had an external growth in that area that needed to be removed. The plan was to first try to externalize the penis and decide where to go from there.

The vet had some big forceps and was looking for the penis internally. It took her a while to be able to finally grab it and externalize it. She had to use a lot of force to keep it from going back in his body. Apparently this isn’t too common, meaning, his penis was too short. They were thinking it was possible that the penis was just too short to externalize on its own. They decided to proceed with the surgery anyway to remove any chance of the penis just going into the other pocket.

The vet kept saying how that was going to be an awkward conversation with the owner. “Sorry, but your pig’s penis is just too short to breed naturally.”

Another fun fact:

It turns out that pigs have a corkscrew shaped penis. The cervix of the female is shaped to accept this.

Image Source

I’m not sure what happened to the pig in the end since this was a really long surgery and I had to leave. But being around the farm vets all summer has taught me a lot-complete with a lesson about “the penis of boar”.


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