Mabel, a 6-year-old orange, Maine Coon beauty came to see me after her regular veterinarian had retired. The owner reported that Mabel had been obsessively licking her belly and that she had seen blood in Mabel’s urine. She had also had a chronic history of blood in her stool, as well as upper respiratory symptoms. Below, the owner recounts additional symptoms of her kitty’s suffering…
“We adopted Mabel as a kitten at three months old. From the very beginning, Mabel had many concerning medical issues…an upper respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, and a compromised digestive system. She is a beautiful Maine Coon cat and is now six years old. For the first five years of her life, we tried many treatments, expensive prescription diets and probiotics. Needless to say, she spent a lot of time in discomfort. She was not affectionate or very sociable. “
A urine test showed mildly increased protein levels, which were of uncertain significance. Plus, there was no bacterial infection that needed antibiotics. I elected to treat her for sterile cystitis, suspecting inflammation of the bladder wall with no discernible cause. I medicated her symptoms with anti-inflammatories and pain medications, and within a few days, her symptoms seemed resolved. I attributed these symptoms to underlying stress that Mabel’s body was experiencing.
But I was still very concerned about her chronic intestinal and respiratory issues and decided to delve into her feeding regimen. Based on previous recommendations, Mabel’s owner had been rotating between two different prescription diets, one for sensitive stomachs and another for a potential food allergy.
Why would a cat continue to have medical issues on prescription diets?
In my opinion, the two diets were perhaps providing partial improvements, but on the flip side, I was suspicious that some of the ingredients in those prescription diets were actually perpetuating inflammation for Mabel. Prescription diets (dry or canned) can be extremely useful for managing illnesses when used appropriately, but even these foods can contain ingredients that can cause irritation or inflammation in some of our kitties.
Here is why. It is well known that cats have difficulty digesting any type of carbohydrates because they have very limited amounts of the enzymes necessary to break them down. This is logical because in the wild they do not ingest carbs, except for the roughage in their prey’s stomachs. Because of this low enzyme count, their intestinal tracts become easily inflamed when presented with an overabundance of carbohydrates — whether they are grains or not.
Many types of cat food both wet and dry, can be very high in carbohydrates, and though dry foods are generally higher in carbohydrates than wet food because this ingredient is needed to turn them into kibble, wet food, even prescription food, can be high as well. This wonderful website, www.catinfo.org, discusses the benefits of low carbohydrate wet food in more detail and has a useful chart which compares carbohydrate loads of various available wet foods.
Based upon all this information, I began wondering if Mabel’s real problem was an underlying food intolerance to carbohydrates and I suggested to her owner that we experiment with over the counter, wet foods that had minimal carbohydrates. The owner agreed to give it a try.
When Mabel recently returned to our clinic for a follow-up appointment, I was thrilled to hear that Mabel had taken a complete turn for the better! Her stools were improved, and her overall demeanor was that of a happier, much more sociable cat!
This is what the owner had to say in a recent testimonial email…
“This past Spring we brought Mabel to Dr. Katz for her first visit. It was a Sunday, in fact, it was Mother’s Day, and I had little hope of a return phone call much less a chance of an office visit. Dr. Katz returned my phone call within five minutes and she met us at her office a short time later. From the moment that we met Dr. Katz and she examined Mabel, I felt very confident that we were in good hands! Mabel has a whole new happy and healthy life! No more expensive dry prescription food, no more digestive issues and what a dramatic change in this kitty’s personality! She cuddles up at night when I am reading, she jumps up on my lap to be brushed (that never happened before!) and she follows us from room to room rather than hiding under a table! We are so fortunate to have met Dr. Katz and will be forever grateful to her for making such a positive, healthy influence in Mabel’s (and our) life!”
I am so glad we could help Mabel feel like a rockstar!!
Dr. Geri Katz
Aristokatz Veterinary Hospital