My CKD Kitty

Sadie on Fur
Sadie on Fur

Sadie’s urine culture and urinalysis came back negative. Which means she doesn’t have pyelonephritis (kidney infection). The good news is, we stopped the antibiotic so I no longer have to put her (and me) through the trauma of giving her the nasty Baytril tablet. The bad news is, Sadie has chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The signs were there for quite some time, I just had no idea she was so sick.

  • Drinking a lot of water

Sadie drank more water than the other kitties for quite a while. I just thought she was more fascinated with the bathroom faucet and the fountain.

  • Urinating a lot

Recently I noticed a lot more (and larger) pee clumps in the litter box. I use World’s Best Cat Litter, which makes better pee clumps than any litter I’ve ever used. So when I started scooping out massive pee clumps, I knew something was going on.

  • Hanging out in litter box

Sadie hung out in her litter box a few times. She just sat there in the morning when I was getting ready for work, blinking at me. “What are you doing sitting in the litter box? Silly kitty.” If only I spoke cat, I would have understood she was telling me, “Mom, I can’t poo. I’m totally constipated. Give me some Miralax, will you?” (This can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection, so if you see this behavior, get kitty checked by the vet.)

  • Pooping outside the litter box

Recently, I began finding poo on the floor near the litter box (and sometimes, not so near). I figured this was more litter box shenanigans caused by Sophie’s (the former stray) presence in our household. Once Sophie became more adventuresome (which took nearly two years) and starting exploring the upstairs and using all the litter boxes, Sally retaliated. Sally began lifting her bottom at the end of a pee, shooting jets of urine onto the floor around the boxes. Sometimes I catch her in the act, and gently push her bottom down below the side of the box. More often, I’m mopping up little puddles of urine, followed up by spritzes of Nature’s Miracle. So, when I began seeing poo several weeks ago, I figured Sally had escalated. It turns out, poo outside the box is another sign of constipation. Poor Sadie.

  • Loss of appetite

Sadie is a chubber. She eats anything. She begs like a dog, staring at me, transfixed, when I eat my dinner. So when she began turning her nose up at poached chicken and tuna, I knew something was up. She’d walk up to the food saucer, take a bite or two, or just lick the broth, and walk away. Or sniff the food and take no bites, and walk away. Finally, a sign I could not ignore.

  • Weight loss

Sadie appeared to have lost some weight. I wasn’t sure, seeing as she’s quite fluffy, and also, as I mentioned, she’s a chubber. So I initially thought, if she had slimmed down a bit, this was a good thing. As it turns out, it was yet another sign something was wrong.

The vet suspected pyelonephritis or CKD. Until we got the urine culture and urinalysis results on Monday, I was holding out hope Sadie had a kidney infection. A kidney infection is curable. CKD is not. CKD can be treated, however. Learning to do that is how I’ve spent my Christmas vacation.

Sadie and I went to the vet on Monday so they could teach me how to give her subcutaneous fluids. This entails injecting fluids under Sadie’s skin with a small needle. If you want to see how this is done, watch this video of a cute kitty named Gus. I watched this before I gave them to Sadie for the first time, and based on how she reacted to being given pills, I figured there was no way she’d be as chill as Gus. In the vet’s office, Sadie stayed in her carrier, which is soft-sided and zips open on top, giving me access to administer the fluids. I made the skin tent on her back near her shoulders, took a deep breath, and slid the needle in. Sadie remained calm. The vet tech was holding the IV bag, and began squeezing it to make the fluids flow more quickly. Sadie appeared to be a little uncomfortable at one point, but she didn’t move or try to escape. I gave her pets and talked softly to her, and before I knew it, we were done. I gave her some treats, which she wasn’t interested in. But it’s the thought that counts.

The vet gave us samples of various prescription kidney diets, the bag of fluids, and a baggie full of clean needles, and instructed me to give Sadie 100 ml every day for the next six days (for a total of seven days straight). We are to go back on Monday for a retest of her blood work. The hope is that after a week of fluid therapy, Sadie’s BUN, and more importantly, her creatinine levels will go down.

When we got home, Sadie casually exited the carrier and walked straight to the food bowl. I opened up a can of Hill’s k/d and spooned a little onto the saucer. What happened next was astonishing: the kitty who has been disinterested in food for days began chowing down. She ate nearly three-quarters of a can in one sitting. I was jubilant. The last time Sadie ate with any gusto was when she returned home from the vet after her initial testing. She’d had sub-Q fluids that day, too, but I didn’t fully understand how beneficial it was until this moment.

On Tuesday afternoon, it was time for me to give Sadie her sub-Q fluids for the first time at home, without the vet tech’s supervision. I was a little nervous, but determined not to show it, lest Sadie pick up on it. I warmed the fluids (which the vet tech did not do) and brought the bag upstairs and hung it on Sadie’s very own IV pole ($30 from Amazon). I put her carrier on her favorite sheepskin window seat, thinking this would help keep her in one place during the treatment. I put a handful of Greenie’s in the carrier and went downstairs to fetch Sadie. I carried her upstairs, set her in the carrier, made the tent, slid the needle in, opened the flow valve, and waited. Sadie was totally chill. It was as if she’d channeled Gus. I watched the level on the bag drop, and when she’d gotten her 100 ml, I turned off the valve, slid the needle out, and reminded Sadie of the treats. Instead, she jumped out of the carrier and went downstairs. I figured she was headed for the food bowl, but she curled up on her furry blanket on the back of the sofa and went to sleep.

Uh oh. Had I done it wrong? Why wasn’t she eating? Was 100 ml two days in a row too much? Was she dying? Was she unconscious? Every now and then I’d give her a pet, which she’d barely acknowledge, and go on sleeping. I fretted while she slept and googled, “Kitty sleeping after subcutaneous fluids.” I learned that while many kitties are quite active and hungry after fluids, some are not. Still, I thought maybe I’d done something wrong, since she was so energetic the day before when I’d given them. After an hour of stressing over the sleeping (dying?) cat, Sadie awoke and nonchalantly walked into the kitchen, and proceeded to devour the food on her saucer.

Yesterday’s sub-Q session did not go as well. My neighbor, back from England, came by, and I decided to show her how it’s done. Sadie growled and flinched when the needle went in, and took off out of her carrier shortly after the fluids began to flow. (Sadie never growls at me.) I gave up and decided to try again later without my neighbor present, after Sadie had calmed down. (It later occurred to me the fluids may have been too warm.) When I tried again, I did not put Sadie in her carrier, figuring we’d likely formed a bad association during the last session. I set her on her sheep skin on her window seat and piled some Greenie’s in front of her. This time, it went off without a hitch. Sadie lay still. She did not flinch when the needle went in, she did not try to escape, and she actually ate treats during the process. The only snafu occurred when I took the needle out and forgot to turn off the port, squirting the fluid around my bedroom like a broken fire hose. All the while, Sadie lay on her sheep skin and ate the rest of her Greenies. When she finished them, she went downstairs and ate a bit of food before settling down for her long nap. This time, I didn’t worry death was imminent.

Aside from giving sub-Q fluids, I’ve spent these past days experimenting with various foods (she likes the Hill’s k/d best), and holding Sadie while I read. She’s always been a cuddler, but she seems a bit clingier than normal. I have no objection, except I hate disturbing her when I need to get up.

On Monday, we’ll get a better picture of how far along Sadie is on the CKD scale, based on the IRIS staging system. The vet said based on her current levels, she thinks Sadie is a 2-3. Some cats can live many years at this level. So I’ll do my best to not catastrophize, and instead direct that energy toward helping Sadie feel better.

Who knew I’d be so cool with poking a needle into my cat? If I didn’t know before I’m a strong amazing woman, I know it now.

Along with my vet, this site on CKD cats has been an incredible resource to help me understand the signs and symptoms of CKD, and how to treat Sadie and make her feel better:


  • I know how tough this is. About 13 years ago I too had a black cat that was diagnosed with CKD. I got used to administering the fluids, granted she was very tolerant and managed to last one more year, which was more than I expected. She went downhill suddenly at the end and within a day or two I knew I couldn’t let her suffer anymore. I also suddenly lost a cat (my favorite of all time) two weeks ago under anesthesia during a routine dental cleaning, and am still devastated. Hang in there and enjoy every moment with Sadie.

    I stumbled upon your blog by way of Living a FI, and was struck by how eerily similar our life trajectories and experiences with career, family, relationships and mental health challenges have been. I also had three cats (up until two weeks ago). It’s good to know there are others out there struggling with similar issues and continuing to press on. Happy New Year and here’s to FIRE-ing, freedom and fabulous felines!

    Liked by 1 person

    • During a routine dental cleaning? That’s awful. I’m so sorry, Janzi. Yes, I’m sure you are still devastated. Sadie is my favorite cat of all time. Not that I’d ever wish this on the other two. Living a FI—one of my favorites. If you have a blog, please let me know how to find it. It’s so nice to recognize a kindred soul.

      Happy New Year to you, Janzi! That’s a very nice string of Fs. 🙂


      • DJ appeared to have some underlying heart/lung issues but the vet couldn’t come up with a conclusive answer. He stopped breathing and they tried to revive him unsuccessfully. There was fluid in his lungs and a mucus buildup in his esophagus. He also had an unusually small heart so there may have been a preexisting cardiomyopathy. It’s also possible that he’d had a heartworm infection as the initial cause; I wasn’t aware that it could impact indoor-only cats. There are only prevention and not treatment options for cats, unlike for dogs. Apparently it only takes one mosquito bite and I did let him out on a screened-in patio.

        It was almost his 13th birthday and I wasn’t prepared to lose him like that. I can’t help but think if we knew something was wrong beforehand that he would have been around longer, but I know that’s not a productive train of thought. He wasn’t showing any symptoms but I’m sure you know how good cats are at hiding health issues. He’d had blood work and a physical exam beforehand, and there was nothing unusual found. X-rays aren’t done routinely unless there is some suspicion of a problem. This vet has done cleanings on five of my other cats over the years, and one dog, so I trust he did everything he could to save him.

        I don’t currently have an active blog but I’m trying to start journaling regularly. I’ll let you know if it changes. Right now I’m busy trying to finish a PhD dissertation that I’ve long lost interest in. FI dreams have a way of impelling one to use their time only on pursuits they truly enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Poor DJ. Twelve (nearly thirteen) is very young. It’s just heartbreaking. I’ve done some self-recrimination: if only I’d realized her drinking lots of water was a symptom and changed her diet sooner. Right now, since she’s unable to hide that she’s feeling less than energetic, I wonder how bad she’s really feeling. But she’s eating much better, so I take that as a good sign.

          Finishing your dissertation? Yes, I’d say you’ve got your hands full. I think FIers have the dream precisely because they/we don’t want to waste time doing things we don’t enjoy. Wishing all your dreams come true!

          Liked by 1 person

  • My late cat, Jason Walker, was CKD. One we got him on the Hills K/D diet, he lived another four years or so, mostly in good health until the last six weeks. The only hitch was that I had to also put his sister on the same diet, as both ate dry food in a leisurely manner. In my case, the vet said it was fine for a non-CKD cat to be on the K/D food, so all was well.

    Frankly, I’m happy we never got to the subcutaneous hydration, but I’m glad you’re handling it well.

    Saludos y feliz año nuevo,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are about to have our first “geezer-ish” new year’s eve, likely in bed before midnight. Whatever. We just spent 3 weeks partying in San Francisco already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jason Walker? Cute! I can’t believe Sadie is taking the fluids so easily. It’s vastly different from pilling, thank goodness. I’m not sure whether she’ll have to stay on the daily fluids, or if this is just to give her a boost. We’ll know more after her next round of blood work on Monday.

      Three weeks of partying in San Francisco? Sounds like you earned a geezerish NYE. We were up at midnight listening to the fireworks. But just barely.

      Happy New Year, Kim in Boston, MA!

      Liked by 1 person

  • I have a cat. He is ten years old. Recently I noticed that he lost some weight. He is chubby and eats and a lot. Sometimes he even overeats and tends to throw up. Thank you for posting all these symptoms. I will definitely watch for them.
    Sadie is such a beautiful cat. I hope Sadie and you will manage her symptoms and she will be fine. It is so heart breaking when pets get sick. To be honest, I ‘d rather be sick then them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Based on my own experience, I’d recommend having his kidney values checked via blood test. Once symptoms start, it’s a bit late. The sooner you can get him on kidney diet cat food (if kidneys are indeed his problem), the better.


      • It sounds like everything is getting back to normal. Cats are notorious in hiding their illnesses and diseases. Good job by you in spotting something was wrong.

        Liked by 2 people

  • Fluids work miracles. Seems Sadie realizes what you are doing is helping her. Healing wishes sent from all paws here. Playing is a good sign.
    (My vet sister-in-law has warned us cats do not do well with anesthesia for several reasons – and older cats are more at risk. We cater to RC. How can you not?)
    Glad the new year is starting out better than expected. Good sign for the rest of the year! Happy onward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She must know. She lies there so quietly, nibbling at her treats. It’s truly remarkable. Her appetite is very good. This morning she was doing a bit of jumping and climbing, bumping into Sophie on the cat tree, whereupon they commenced trading hisses. Thank you for the healing wishes from the Realm. We are off to a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Hi Ella, I’m so sorry you’ve gotten bad news. I’m sure you must be exhausted by all of this…I know you love her so much. Happy new year to you, all the same. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dinah, we are doing OK. We’ve settled into the treatment routine and Sadie is like a new kitty tonight. After nearly two weeks of non-stop sleeping, clinging to me like a sick toddler, sleeping on my chest all day long, she’s romping around playing with Sally. Totally disinterested in me. And Sally is ecstatic to have her sister back. They’re playing chase and wrestling. Seven days of fluid therapy. Amazing. Hope it lasts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • She’s amazingly good. Her levels were down some, but not as much as we’d hoped based on how much better she seems to be feeling. BUN 50 to 49, creatinine from 4.9 to 4.0. Another check in a couple of weeks to see if they improve further.

      Liked by 1 person

  • As already told you, my old Pallie was CKD (level 2-3) and under vet’s control lived till she was 19 (10 healthy and 9 CKD). Proper k/d food and liquid treatment help very much 😀
    Calm and patience are your new words!
    Cuddles and kisses to Sadie ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sid, Pallie’s long and happy life gives me hope. Sadie is much perkier and her appetite has improved. I heat her fluids at the same time every evening, and she follows me upstairs to her spot by the window for her treatment. She lays quietly and nibbles on her treats while I give her pets. I’m guessing it is not painful or objectionable to her, given she so willingly accepts the treatment. I am feeling calm and patient! Thank you, Sid! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • So sorry about your sick kitty. Sick animals suck. It is so frustrating because they can’t talk and their way of communicating is sooooooooo hard to decypher. Google can help, but sometimes it makes us crazy . . . right? All the things on there and you never really know. Good luck on this journey.

    sidilbradipo1 having a 19 year old cat is a great hope. I would follow what s/he did!


    • Learning to communicate with a sick cat certainly is a challenge. Before, all I had to do was feed her pretty much anything, and scoop her box daily. Now, we’ve got a smorgasbord of food dishes at all times, trying to find something she fancies. I definitely am following Sid’s advice! Thank you, Terre.


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