I'm copying and pasting photos and captions from my Facebook account. If you use Facebook and haven't already added us, you should! That's where all the latest and greatest updates are.
June 8, 2012:
Tofu isn't feeling well. He vomited quite a few times + can't seem to keep his food down even though he's always eager to eat. He will be going to see the vet tomorrow if it doesn't improve. He's temporarily being kept in the kitchen. For now, he ate some baby food and hasn't threw it back up yet *paws crossed*. Please keep him in your thoughts tonight.
June 9, 2012:
Just an update on Tofu before I head to bed... Sometime after he ate the baby food, he vomited just a little bit back up and that was the end of his puking episodes. I also withheld all other food aside from the liquidy baby food as we found the more solids he had in him, the more unwell he felt. Since his symptoms started, he puked a total of 9-10 times (separately).
At the vet clinic, the staff commented on how calm he is for a cat who was being poked and prodded by strangers and his heartbeat was, unsurprisingly, very relaxed. He didn't show signs of abdominal distress during the examination and everything looked fine from the outside. Because I had been continually syringe feeding him water, he was not found to be dehydrated and didn't need IV fluids. No blockage as he still continued to urinate and defecate.
The vet wanted to check his pancreas and liver, so a pancreatic snap test + general blood panel was done. Tofu also received a couple of injections -- a Cerenia injection to stop the vomiting so he could get some food into his system (unlike dogs, cats can't and shouldn't go without food for long as once they stop eating, they don't want to start again, plus the risk of severe liver damage) and a Famotidine (Pepcid) injection to control the stomach acidity.
I personally have a high suspicion it was the food that caused this, whether it be from bacteria or simply a bad batch of meat from the raw pet food supplier. The first time he threw up, ~3-4 am, the whole mess consisted of the meat he had eaten for BREAKFAST. I know because he refused his dinner. And it smelled foul, like rotting meat. Understandably so, because it's the equivalent of incubating raw meat for over 12 hours. How did it go undigested for so long? I have taken him off the raw diet for now and he is eating a bland diet of cooked extra lean ground beef. We may continue with home-cooked depending on how he does.
The blood test results are expected to come back tomorrow and I hope everything will be normal! This photo was taken in the car when leaving the vet clinic. He had greasy fur from the alcohol since blood was drawn from his neck (per my request).
July 10, 2012:
Tofu's blood test results came back. Diagnosis: PANCREATITIS.
July 11, 2012 @ 7:06 am:
Thanks for all your well wishes! Tofu is feeling a lot better this morning and is back to his old self! He's running around, teasing and taunting Jemma, and racing through his tunnel.
He has had a diet change and we are cutting out the raw. The next little while will be trial and error while we figure out what works best for him. He goes back to the vet for a blood re-test next week and hopefully his liver enzyme ALT level will have dropped significantly by then. It was super high on Monday. Unfortunately, he has also lost a bit of weight.
Photo taken just now, after he exhausted himself from a good race around the house.
July 12, 2012:
Tofu's New Diet
At least temporarily. It contains brewer's yeast (why do pet food companies do that?), so I have to wait and see if he has any allergic reactions.
I will probably start making him home-cooked food after he's 100% well again.
Tofu's liver enzyme ALT was sitting at 717 U/L at the time of the blood test (normal range is 12-130), which leads me to believe that what he had/has was acute pancreatitis, not chronic. However, cats can silently have both. Based on necropsy results, around 64% of cats suffer from pancreatitis even if pancreatitis wasn't their primary cause of death. So, it seems to be VERY common amongst them and since cats are so good at hiding pain, many cat owners aren't even aware that their kitties might be suffering from this disease. I'm thankful that Tofu actually vomited so many times which alerted us to something being wrong. Only a very small percentage of cats with pancreatitis vomit - I can't even imagine what could have happened if he hadn't!
To make matters worse, there isn't too much scientific research out there about managing and treating this disease in cats. They require a natural diet high in fat, so nutrition-wise, it can't be managed the same as with humans and dogs (very low fat diet). I personally feel that high fat doesn't directly cause pancreatitis in cats, BUT the ratio of protein to fat does...
I examined the nutrient composition of different types of mice, a cat's natural diet, and found that the calories from protein are always higher than the calories from fat. Then I analyzed a lot of the commercial canned food being sold today and unsurprisingly, fat calories are MUCH higher than protein calories. That is unnatural.
The guaranteed analysis labels are deceiving. At first glance, consumers think protein has a higher percentage than fat, but those numbers aren't representative of the actual calories - there's quite of math involved to figure the real values out.
A real commercial canned food in the market has a Guaranteed Analysis label that reads, as fed:
Protein (min.): 10%
Fat (min.): 7%
In reality, the caloric breakdown is:
Protein (min.): 35.7%
Fat (min.): 60.7%
Cats eating this are getting almost double their calories from fat than protein! Gram by gram, fat contains almost 2.5 times more calories than protein or carbs. At the end of the day, fat is much cheaper than protein and that's why pet food companies are so generous with it.
For Tofu, he was raised on a raw diet and not processed commercial food, so why did he get pancreatitis? Well, because he's not eating a natural diet of mice/small prey...what cats would eat in the wild...or at least a diet close to that. To add insult to injury, he has allergies to chicken and turkey, so he normally gets rabbit, beef, bison, and occasionally elk. Out of the mix of proteins he eats, the nutrient in rabbit meat is very close to that of mice, so that's fine. But beef, bison, and elk? Way higher in fat than protein and they're not "natural" to cats. In fact, the fat content in beef and bison meat is almost double that of mice.
Therefore, in a way, yes, I believe high fat can possibly contribute to cat pancreatitis. I can see cats hunting and killing mice, rabbits, and perhaps chicken, but not a cow or buffalo. And even when they do hunt the smaller prey, it's not loaded with a lot more fat (e.g. chicken skin which is cheaper for pet food companies to buy than actual chicken meat) than what is naturally present. Also keep in mind that the Guaranteed Analysis you see on the back of your cat's food label states the MINIMUM fat, not maximum. That means the fat content can be way higher. See what I'm getting at? Unnatural diet = unnatural diseases.
(I should also put a disclaimer here that this is based on my own knowledge, research, and conclusions and I could be wrong, but it's my personal beliefs.)
I've spent the last 2 days researching (as you can tell, LOL) and formulating a new diet regime for Tofu which closely mimics that of a very natural one and without the use of mice meat. I'm too squeamish for that. But the protein and fat calories are in line with those of a rodent's, so let's hope Tofu doesn't ever get another pancreatitis attack. Okay, I'm done with the rambling now :)
Yeap, so that's what we've been dealing with. It's been both a little hectic and stressful, to say the least. I have a bunch of work + e-mails piling up and I feel bad because I've broken all my promises to people that I'll get back to them "soon". Sorry we haven't been able to visit your bloggies either!