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The Cat Health Checkup, Part 1: Gunner

Cat health can be best monitored through regular wellness checkups.

The big day

You may recall several weeks ago I wrote a post called Check Up or Check Out talking about why annual wellness checkups are so important for cat health.  It’s kinda like that proverbial box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get!  Well, I dread these, too, like most pet parents, but I finally took Hershey, Gunner, Lili and Aylen for their check ups this week.  (Rocket already had his when he went through all his nasal polyp issues.) 

Through the pouring rain I drove the thirteen mile hike to my integrative vet’s clinic.  Everyone did well with the car ride, but Gunner was extremely vocal in letting me know he did not approve of the trip, constrained inside the carrier.  In my haste to get out the door I forgot to use the Rescue Remedy flower essence on him–lesson learned!  Once we arrived and went inside the exam room everyone got out and started to explore the room, sniffing and climbing on everything.  One by one they were each examined, and they took blood work on Hershey, Lili, and Gunner since they are all over seven years old.  The results would come back in a day or two, so after we finished I loaded everyone up and drove home.  This time Gunner sat in my lap where he was much happier!

The results are in

The vet finally called, and after the casual hellos her first words were, “Gunner surprised me.”  (Here’s that piece of chocolate you pick out that you don’t like!)  I don’t like these kind of surprises!!  She began to explain that Gunner’s liver enzymes were elevated, something very unexpected for a cat who has no symptoms that something is off and who’s been so healthy all his life.  Wait!  There’s more:  his kidney levels are elevated, too.  Now I’m really scratching my head!  

Don’t panic!

Not being one to panic I began researching.  Apparently, changing liver enzyme values in itself is not too uncommon.  According to an article by Dr. Karen Becker, holistic DMV, when the ALT liver enzymes are elevated, as in Gunner’s case, there is cause to be concerned.  His level was 119 where the normal range is 10-100.

If an animal’s ALT level is elevated, it’s cause for concern. ALT is produced inside liver cells and the only way it can reach the bloodstream is through a ruptured cell. So an elevated ALT value (without elevation in other markers) may indicate rapid death of, or injury to, liver cells.

However, the liver has regenerative powers, so slightly higher than normal rates of cell death, or short periods of significant cell death, may be resolved by the liver’s ability to regenerate tissue. As a general rule, veterinarians consider that ALT values two to three times normal warrant further investigation, while lower elevations in a clinically normal animal can be closely monitored through regular rechecks.

Also, ALT is present in intestinal as well as liver cells, so a serious GI disease can cause mild elevations in this enzyme.

Time for a cleanseThere are natural ways to support elevated liver enzymes in a cat.

In Gunner’s case, because he showed no signs of illness or change in behavior, and because his ALT levels were only slightly elevated, I’m opting for a liver detox.  Out of all the possible best products to accomplish this, “including milk thistle, SAMe, Phosphatidyl choline, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) or SOD (superoxide dismutase),” I muscle tested and found a couple of products by Energetix called Core Milk Thistle and Core Black Radish that will help cleanse his liver.  (Ironically, Rocket needed a liver cleanse late last summer as we were exploring ways to clear up his nasal congestion.)  Being almost ten years old in June, that’s a very long time for toxins to build up in his body, and the liver can get a little sluggish and congested trying to filter all this out over the years.  Dr. Becker’s article also stated that the list of possible external causes of liver stress include air, water and food contaminants, environmental chemical and toxin loads, infectious diseases, unnecessary vaccine stress, and parasite infestations.  While he’s been eating kibble-free for over four years and hasn’t received any vaccines in over eight, it’s important to remember we live in a toxic world!

Could it be CKD?

Now that I had a plan for the liver support I needed to address his kidneys.  The two main kidney parameters that are measured in a blood profile are BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine, and these two indicators determine how well the kidneys are functioning.  Gunner’s BUN was 44 (normal is 14-36) and creatinine was 2.5 (normal is .6-2.4).  While these numbers are slightly elevated, it may simply be due to the fact that he eats a raw (high protein) diet, according to one article I read.  At this point I’m not worried that he’s developing CKD (chronic kidney disease), but I am putting him on an herbal medicine he muscle tested well for to help support his kidneys called Kidney Support Gold by Pet Wellbeing. Herbal formulas are used to naturally detox your cat's liver if enzymes are elevated.

Recheck, recheck, recheck

Being a holistic pet parent I’m very used to cleanses and taking specific herbal and homeopathic products to support my body, and now Gunner will have a chance to do his very first “cleanse!”  I informed our vet of Gunner’s new protocol to keep her in the loop, and I’ll take him back to the vet in a couple of months to get his blood work re-tested to determine if the elevated liver and kidney enzymes are back in normal range. 

I’m SO glad I took Gunner in; otherwise I would never have known something was off.  Besides needing to lose a couple of pounds (he loves to eat), he appears healthy.  This is a great reminder to all pet parents reading this article!  I would much rather catch something early than try to combat serious health issues after disease becomes symptomatic.  Stay tuned next week for Part 2 where we go over Hershey’s results.  Like Gunner, his results also contained a surprise I wasn’t ready for!😱

Need help?

If you’d like help determining if any natural, holistic alternatives to pharmaceutical medicines would be beneficial for your cat’s specific health condition please contact me.  Muscle testing is the key to finding out which products are viable, beneficial and needed, and I don’t actually have to be with your cat! 

Here’s a cute look at the cats in the exam room:

 

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