… a story about potential help for cats experiencing kidney failure
by Sandra Crosnoe
Friends and family know that once upon a time there was Peaches and Ebony and Ivory. Ebony and Ivory were born in 2002 on the Hall estate in Keller Texas. Peaches was a rescue cat who came along shortly after the other two and was quickly the smallest but the feistiest of the bunch. Ebony died in 2011 (heart attack/stroke) and Peaches in 2013 (liver failure) and that leaves only Ivory to take care of me.
Ivory is 15 years old (2017) and recently she was getting pretty lethargic, loosing weight and not grooming herself properly, so I took her to Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Dewey on January 25th. They did a blood analysis on her and found she was in early stage renal (kidney) failure.
The recommendation was special prescription k/d cat food, fluids subcutaneously routinely, and Azodyl which is a pricey probiotic for cats. I set about to implement these lifestyle changes and research renal failure in cats at the same time. None of these things is a cure for the disease.
My good friend Donna Gustafson, who had helped me take Ivory to the vet, told me about a show she had seen on a cat with kidney failure who got stem cell therapy and did very well. The show was on the Pet Channel with an Alaska vet named Dr. Dee and a cat named Honey. It was segment 9 on Season 2 on Amazon with the following description:
9. Operation Baby Owl Rescue
Dr. Dee and her husband Ken respond to an emergency, flying to rescue six baby owls whose parents were killed by an eagle. At Animal house, Dr. Dee’s dog becomes a blood donor for a lab with an auto-immune disease, and a cat undergoes stem cell therapy.
TV-14 Language: English Runtime: 41 minutes Release date: September 23, 2016
I purchased the segment so I could watch it. Then I called her office to ask how to find someone in my area to talk to about help for Ivory. I called Dr. Dee to see if she had any contacts for the lower 48:
Dr Dee Thornell
- Animal House Veterinary Hospital
- 2702 Peger Road Fairbanks, Alaska, 99709
- Fairbanks, Alaska 99712
Phone (907) 479-2800Website http://aknoahsark.com/index.html
Her office promptly returned my call and referred me to Vet Stem Cell:
Karina Benish, MSEd., RVT / Vet-Stem Regenerative Veterinary Medicine
12860 Danielson Court, Suite B Poway, CA 92064
Direct Line_ 858-218-8650
Email Karina Benish kbenish[at]vetstem[dot]com
I contacted Vet Stem Cell and they referred me to Dr. Caren Lawrence at VCA Woodlands in Tulsa
VCA Woodland South Animal Hospital
Caren Lawrence DVM
9340 S Memorial
Tulsa, OK 74133
I talked with her by phone about the procedure and the price and learned that she could do the surgery to extract the fat cells and send them to Vet Stem Cell to convert to stem cells. The stem cells are overnighted back and then reinjected into Ivory intraveneously. We scheduled the surgery for February 7th. I must admit the surgery and recovery from the extraction of the fat was a little more traumatic than I anticipated. But Ivory did just fine and the people at VCA were all wonderful. The key thing is to not wait until your cat is really debilitated from the disease to try to get enough fat for the stem cell extraction/therapy. If you are going to do it, do it as early as you can in the disease process.
I took her back in on February 9th for the first stem cell injection intravenously and the second on February 16th. We had enough to ‘bank’ for a future injection if needed. Here are some pics of her getting her stem cells.
I am continuing Azodyl only giving one pill per day instead of 2 recommended for two reasons – price and lifestyle (have you ever tried to pill a cat?). I am also giving her fluids subcutaneously about once every two weeks, whenever I have help and think she needs them. The recommendation is for more like once a week, but also if/when she gets lethargic. That is not happening any more, but I don’t want it to either!
We have switched over to K/D prescription diet almost completely just supplementing with other food to try to boost appetite a bit. I also add a little water to the food per the suggestion of Dr. Hinz to help her get a little more water. I was giving her vitamin B complex in a little squirt bottle when I gave her her pill for a while. But appetite seems good now and I have stopped that for now.
Vet Stem Cell folks asked for a 30, 60, and 90 day report on Ivory. We were a little early on the 30 day vet visit (back to my local vet in Dewey, Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic), but got a good report. Her Bun/Creatin numbers were both down. I am hoping we get back in the normal range next visit, but Dr. Lawrence said we might see improvement for two or three months. Here is the March 7th lab test: Bun went from 48 down to 40 and Creatin went from 3.0 to 2.7.
Photos: Dr. Caren Lawrence,, Ivory and David Ramage
Special thanks to Dr. Erin Haxton and Dr. Elizabeth Hinz at Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic for all their love and care for Ivory during this process as well. I have opened the comments on this post and would love to hear your stories on topic and be glad to answer any questions too. I hope to add updates here to this unfolding story in the future.
In addition to all the medical things I am doing related here, I should mention that I have been praying for Ivory’s healing and often lay hands on her and ask for the Lord to restore her kidneys and give me wisdom about what/when to do for her. He has taught me a lot about His love and care for me through the years and I believe that I can trust Him in this matter as well. I do believe that the prayers of others make a difference, so if you are a praying person, please keep us in your prayers!
Some additional information on costs has been added to the comments below.