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Waldo’s Health Scare

June 21st, 2013 at 05:52 am

Due to my abbreviated work schedule, my “weekend” officially starts at 6:01 pm Wednesday night. So I was just into my weekend two nights ago when I arrived home from work. I didn’t initially notice that Waldo didn’t come into the kitchen at dinner time with his straight-up, happy tail with the crooked little curve at the tip. Which was odd, because Waldo is a healthy eater, and the cats had just gone a long stretch…10 hours…without eating since breakfast.

I found him huddled in a corner behind the French door in the family room. He was just sitting there, in an out-of-the-way spot. Perhaps I was reading too much into it, but the look on his face told me he was in pain. He didn’t respond to me when I paid him attention, and this I found very disturbing as he is normally extremely affectionate with me.

The first thing that came to mind, frankly, is that maybe Luther rough-housed with him too roughly, as I feel he often does, and this time actually punctured his neck. Luther is a big boy and I am constantly breaking things up when he decides to “play” with Waldo. I had even considered segregating them when I go to work, because the rough-housing happens when Luther gets bored, and poor Waldo is missing most of his teeth and can’t really defend himself. I ultimately decided against segregation because no matter where I put Luther, I know he’d be scratching and destroying whatever stood in his way. He can be very destructive.

I had also noticed 3 small pools of throw-up. I assumed it was Luther, who is frequently coughing up hairballs. These didn’t look serious, just white foamy stuff that sat on top of the carpeting, so it appeared it had just happened.

I continued to keep an eye on Waldo, and I was sure something was very, very wrong. If it wasn’t a bite from Luther, I worried that at Waldo’s age, 13, it could be kidney failure. I called the new 24 hr emergency veterinary place in town to confirm I could bring the cat in, any time.

I hesitated, because Waldo is still extremely timid and I knew I would have a really hard time getting him in the carrier. It would be very traumatic for both of us. And I know that I basically had one chance to scoop him up, because if I failed the first time, he’d be extremely wary about letting me get near him after that.

I brought the carrier down from the attic and positioned it upstairs out of view, wondering if I could carry a squirrely cat in my arms even that far. You know how cats can squirm out of your arms if they want to. I couldn’t let Waldo see it or he’d hide, even though it’s been several years since I last took him to the vet for an allergy shot.

Before I knew it, it was already 9 pm. Waldo was still sitting very still. At one point, he meowed once or twice (again, I interpreted that as pain or discomfort) and another minute later, I realized why: his stomach contracted a few times and then he puked up another small pool of white foam. He must have been feeling nauseous, hence the meows. But I didn’t know why he was throwing up. After that, he was quiet, but I was still very concerned for his welfare. Since taming him several years ago, he always loves to be petted, and this time, he didn’t respond at all.

I decided I would spend the night with him on the family room floor and brought a pillow and blanket downstairs. I was pretty tired and settled in, though later, he got up and walked away to jump up to one of his favorite napping spots on an upholstered chair. At that point, I decided that if he didn’t really want my company, I might as well get a good night’s sleep, so I went upstairs to bed.

Yesterday morning, I was up around 7 a.m., feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t gotten up in the middle of the night to check on Waldo. When I walked downstairs, I found Waldo had just gone to his food bowl and was eating with some enthusiasm.

I couldn’t believe it. His appetite had returned. I had been worried he might be dehydrated if he hadn’t eaten anything. I let him eat his fill and then followed him back to the family room. He seemed like his old, affectionate, good-natured self in every way! I was really astonished; I had come so close to hauling him over to the vet’s, which would have entailed all kinds of exams, blood work and stress for both of us.

Waldo has been perfectly fine since then. I really wonder what the heck happened. I’ve had cats all my life, and it’s been my experience that cats rarely get sick in any way, but that once they do, it’s often something terminal. That’s why when I saw Waldo’s condition Wednesday night, it wasn’t hard to convince myself that this was the beginning of the end, that this was Waldo’s time and I wouldn’t’ t have him for long. I thought that at his age there was a good chance he was in the early stages of kidney disease, since vomiting is one sign of that, as is loss of appetite.

I suppose that could still be possible, so I spent some time yesterday researching the best foods for cats with kidney disease, which means high protein, low fat and low carbs. It also means no grain products or the “healthy” vegetables that cat food makers often put in cat food to make it more palatable to humans. Cats are carnivores and don’t need that stuff; in fact, their digestive systems weren’t made to handle it.

There’s a very good vet online (http://www.catinfo.org/?link=cannedfoods) who writes extensively about cat foods and what’s best to feed cats. I studied her writing, lists and charts for hours. I’m going out today to pick up some higher quality cat foods then what I’ve been feeding the boys. “Higher quality” does not mean, necessarily, the most expensive foods. Iams, for instance, seems to a very popular brand, but the very first ingredient in their food is corn. A huge red flag. Another huge no-no according to Dr. Pierson is NO DRY FOOD. Also very little or NO seafood flavors. At most, use them as a treat once or twice a week. (See her website for reasons why.)
I am just so glad to have my old Waldo back but am still flummoxed by what happened Wednesday night. Since he doesn’t go outside and I control everything he eats (unlike Luther, he doesn’t find little things on the floor like bugs to eat), it would seem unlikely to me that he had indigestion, because he ate the same thing that day that he eats any other day.


Another shot of my office building, from the back side.


I discovered this marina just a 5-minute walk from my office!


The marina is behind the Starwood Hotel, which you can see here. Unfortunately, the nice little walkway between the hotel and the marina doesn't extend too far along the water, and it ends where the Starwood Hotel property ends. Too bad. The hotel does have a nice outdoor patio for dining though.

In other news…
I’m trying to work out a savings plan with my new 3-day-a-week income. I think I want to transfer $650 a month to my online money market account from checking. (My monthly net will be about $2,535.) $550 of this is to be set aside for my property taxes, which I pay twice a year. So I’m really only saving $100 a month, or 3.9% of net income, which is kind of shabby. But since I know my “bare minimum” monthly expenses are about $2,000, if I save $100 a month, that leaves me with $435 a month left over, which I can either save or spend.

It’ll probably be a combination of the two.

Sometimes, it’s just the little things that give pleasure. Like Wednesday night, which was like my Friday night, on my long commute home, I decided I would treat myself to takeout at Boston Market. I ate in my car. I used to do that all the time, but hadn’t in about three years. It was quite enjoyable, and a nice way to break up my drive.

One bit of promising news: my recruiter friend told me that his HR contact at the company where I work asked him last week for the “Direct Hire fee agreement.” (This is what the company has to pay the recruiter if they hire me on a perm basis.) Now I don’t want to read too much into this, but I think it’s a good sign that HR wants to review this document, possibly as prep for negotiating a perm position.

If not, I’m okay with that too, and would happily continue the three days a week work schedule, on a contract basis, all summer.

But it also points out how tenuous my work situation still is. If for some reason they decided I wasn’t a good fit, I could easily become unemployed again in very short order, scrambling to figure out what happens next. It’s actually good for me to keep reminding myself of this, because after an initial spending spree rooted in several years of self-enforced frugality (clothing, shoes, a “statement piece” chair, new car, rubber cargo mat for new car, and a few lunches out with girlfriend), I think I’m ready to really buckle down and do what I said I would do once I got a decent job: save as much as I possibly can, for my retirement, for the next unforeseen rainy day, in case I lose my job again and to try to get my investments back into positive growth territory without having to rely on a bull stock market. I have always had “money insecurity,” partly, I think, because I am single and have to rely on myself. I think having money insecurity is a good thing because you’re more likely to shore up your savings than if you were more carefree.

Yesterday I ghost-wrote a magazine article for a real estate exec, in about 5 hours’ time, so it boosted by my hour rate to about $57/hr. It’s important to me to maintain my freelance business while still holding down the other job, as backup security should something happen to my other new job. I also got another builder bio assignment and am trying to schedule an interview time with the guy today.

Sunday I am doing something fun….a tour of an old historic cemetery here in town, led by our town historian, a retired history professor. He’s very knowledgeable but I’ve only heard his talks a few times, so this should be fun. My friend A. will be joining me. I hope it’s not too big a crowd.

9 Responses to “Waldo’s Health Scare”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I hope Waldo continues to do well. I have a cat who needs to eat on a regular basis or will vomit bile. Ick. Maybe it was a fluke of something stuck in his throat and the vomiting helped release it. It probably scared him, too!

    I rarely get our cat carriers out except the vet, but last year when we moved the cats seemed to find comfort in being in them. The last time I needed to take them to the vet, I got the carrier out and left it open, eventually the one that needed to go, decided to check it out and went right in...and I quickly closed the door. You might try to find a way to make the carrier normal in the house as a place to sleep or hide.

  2. FreebieQueen Says:

    I recently switched my 17-yr old cat over to Wellness Core can food. It is grain free. He had been diagnosed with kidney issues by the vet and they put him on Science Diet K/D for kidneys. He hated that food. I think it also gave him diabetes. I did research online and a lot of people recommended the Wellness cat food. He loves it. He's not diabetic anymore (cats can convert back to non-diabetic). It is expensive at $2/can and he eats a can each day. I stopped giving him dry food since I read that it isn't good for cats with kidney issues. I try to reduce the costs by purchasing discounted gift cards to Petsmart or Petco and buying on sale.

  3. Elle Says:

    Glad Waldo seems to be okay; that must have been a little scary!

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    I tried feeding wellness to my cats once before, but as has happened with other "premium" foods I've bought them, they turned their noses up at it. It might be worth a second try. ....you mentioned Science Diet. That was one brand this vet recommended you NOT buy. I would really like to get both cats off the dry food entirely. Right now, I feed it just once a day, and Luther especially begs for it. I am trying to get them over to a mostly chicken, turkey and beef diet with very occasional seafood, although I notice that EVEN on cans marked "turkey" or "chicken," if you read the ingredients label, most of them still include fish! So if you're concerned about too much contaminated fish in their diets, well, you have to remember it's even in the poultry foods, albeit in smaller amounts.

    All things considered, $2 a day to feed a cat is pretty cheap, I think, especially if it helps prolong the lives of our pets. I am trying to feed them healthier, after this health scare with Waldo (it could very well be early stages kidney disease). Cost is certainly a consideration, but now that I'm working again, I feel I can justify spending a little more. It seems that many of the pate plain and simple varieties are much better for the cats (in terms of high protein, less carbs) than the ones that come with a "gravy" or "sauce," according to this vet.

    I just hope I can get the cats to adjust to the new diet, because in the past, it was turkey and chicken they liked the least, exactly what I want to be feeding them now. The vet said rabbit would also be good for them, and so I splurged on 2 cans at $2 a can to see if they'd eat it.

    If they do, I'd consider an even bigger splurge, buying a $29 bag of frozen raw rabbit cutlets. It bothers me that the cats' entire diet comes from highly processed cans, and I'd love to introduce something healthier, IF I knew they would eat it!


    Freebie Queen, here's some discussion of "grain free" from the vet's website. I also put in bold some interesting questions this vet raised:

    Here are a few general guidelines that I like to focus on:

    Feed canned food only (or homemade) - no dry food.
    Stick with poultry (chicken and turkey) and rabbit as the bulk of your cat's diet.

    I like to see liver in the diet but not as the first ingredient. Liver is high in vitamin A and D which can be overdosed. Liver only represents ~5% of a cat's natural diet. Liver is cheap which is why it often appears first on the list in some diets.

    Fish - I do not feed fish to cats for the following reasons:
    high allergy potential (manifested as skin allergies or inflammatory bowel disease, and possibly asthma)

    toxin/mercury contamination

    PBDEs (fire retardant chemicals) - PBDEs are potent thyroid disruptors

    often high in phosphorus and magnesium

    highly addictive - the cat will not eat anything else

    If you want to feed a fish-based food as a treat, please limit it to once or twice a week. (I do not feed any fish to my cats.)

    Beef is another food allergen for some cats but many cats do just fine with beef.

    Think 'feathers and long ears' and not as much 'horns and fins'.

    Muscle meat (e.g., "chicken" or "turkey") versus by-products is a debatable subject. See the by-product section below.

    Be aware that most of the grain-free/by-product-free/muscle meat choices such as Wellness, Nature's Variety, EVO 95%, etc., are high in fat and relatively low in protein in order to keep the profit margin high.

    Given this fact, I can't help but wonder if Friskies, 9-Lives, etc. (all by-products, no muscle meat) may actually be better diets because many of these by-product foods are higher in protein and lower in fat than the more expensive diets that are free of by-products. The composition of a feline diet is important because cats are designed to eat a high protein (~50% of calories, or more),
    moderate fat (~40% of calories or less), and very low carbohydrate (1-2% of calories) diet.

    Grains do not belong in cat food although I will discuss this issue in more detail below. They are there to add cheap bulk to the food and increase the profit margin of the company. When you see a food called "Chicken and Rice", please understand that the rice is there to appeal to a human who is not educated regarding the cat's obligate carnivore status. Please do not reward these companies by purchasing their products.

    Vegetables: Cats have no dietary need for vegetables yet companies play on the fact that the average person really does not understand the obligate carnivore status of the cat. Note that on, for one example, Hill's Nature's Best dry food there are 5 pictures: 1) rice 2) peas 3) wheat 4) carrots 5) fish or chicken.

    Do you see that the above ingredients (1-4) are simply catering to what many humans perceive as healthy items to be included in their own diet? These first 4 ingredients add to the carbohydrate load of the diet (30% of calories in this case) and also represent a plant-based source of protein which you now understand is species-inappropriate for a cat.

    Also note that wheat is a very hyperallergenic ingredient that does not belong in cat food. These ingredients simply increase the profit margin of the companies and are marketing ploys to get unsuspecting consumers to purchase their species-inappropriate diets.

    In addition to the above issues, note that Hill's does not put an ear of corn on the front of the bag since most people know that corn is not the most nutritious vegetable available yet if you look at the first ingredient in this food, it is cheap, species-inappropriate corn.

    Why didn't they put a picture of the very first ingredient - which makes up the bulk of the food - on the outside of their bag?

    Another marketing ploy that Hill's is now incorporating into their labeling is the substituting of the word "corn" with "maize". Maize IS corn and since this company is well aware of the fact that consumers are becoming more savvy about pet food ingredients, they are now trying to disguise the corn in their diets by calling it "maize". These deceptive marketing practices should be abhorred and certainly not rewarded with you purchasing dollars.

    Let's say you pick up a can of food that is free of grains (including whole grains and flours) and vegetables (including starchy potatoes). You know that this food is going to be very low in carbohydrates.

    However, you still have no idea what the fat and protein levels are.

    What is really crazy is that the pet food manufacturers are allowed to list fat as a 'minimum' - not a 'maximum'. This gives them free-rein to make high fat (read: high profit margin) pet foods.

    An example using the can's Guaranteed Analysis values follows:

    I often hear people say that you can determine the carbohydrate content of a food by adding up the water ("moisture") protein fat fiber ash and then subtracting the sum from 100%. Unfortunately, this can be extremely misleading in some cases.

    Since profit margin is a pet food company's number one priority, you can bet that the protein (expensive) will be pretty close to the minimum value listed on the can but the fat (cheap) may be much higher.

    Let's use Wellness canned Chicken as an example of how misleading the carbohydrate calculation from the label values can be:

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    Protein (min) 10.0%

    Fat (min) 6.0%

    Fiber (max) 1.0%

    Moisture (max) 78.0%

    Ash (max) 1.8%

    If you add up all of those numbers, you get 96.8%. Subtract this from 100% and you get 3.2% carbohydrates on a wet-weight basis. However, values should be considered on a dry matter basis (DMB). In order to convert that 3.2% into a dry matter basis, we must divide it by the dry matter in the food which, in this case, is at least 22%. I say "at least" because the moisture is listed as a maximum so it could be less than 78%. (100% - 78% moisture = 22% dry matter.) 3.2% divided by 22% = 14.5% carbohydrates on a DMB. Most of us would walk away from a food with that carbohydrate level.

    However, when I obtained the more accurate measured values (versus minimums and maximums) from the company, it turns out that the fat content is closer to 11% - not 6% as listed on the label (as a minimum) and the protein was actually 12% not 10%. The moisture content was measured at 73% - not 78%. The wet-weight carbohydrates measured at 1.7% and the carbohydrates on a DMB were 6.5%.

    So you can see by the above example (14.5% versus 6.5%) just how misleading it can be to try to evaluate the carbohydrate content by looking at the guaranteed analysis values on the can. When using the values on the can, the carbohydrate number came up at more than double the actually measured amount - and the fat content appeared to be about half of the actually measured amount.

    Unfortunately, this fact is at odds with the issue of profit margin given that carbohydrate and fat sources are cheaper than animal-based protein sources.

    "Grain-free" does not necessarily mean "low-carb". Many companies add in large amounts of potatoes or peas which are high in carbohydrates but are not "grains". [you really have to read her website to see why she feels high carbs aren't good for cats.)

    Grains and vegetables contribute to both the carbohydrate and protein content of food but understand that the protein from these ingredients is plant-based, not animal-based. As explained in my Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition, cats are strict carnivores and need to get their protein from other animals - not plants.

  5. My English Castle Says:

    Glad things are ok, and it didn't mean a trip to the emergency vet.

  6. snafu Says:

    When we changed our puppy's diet, we introduced the new product s-l-o-w-l-y, less than 1 tsp. day 1, tsp. day 2, 3, 1.5 tsp day 4 until it was 90% new, 10% old stuff. I don't know if there is much difference between dietary needs of dogs vs cats but the pure meat frozen 'pucks' aren't too expensive and serving is based on your pet's size. Most good pet stores can offer [on request] small try-out samples so you don't have a cash outlay until you know Waldo likes the new offering.

    Hope kitty stays well.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    We feed Blue Buffalo dry to our cats. You can add water to that food and the cats love it even more! I did this recently when one cat was eating very little...she love it soft for several days.

  8. PatientSaver Says:

    Actually, I have been adding water to the dry food, too, but the vet said dry food is very prone to growing toxic molds in them, and adding water to it makes it even more so. If you have to do that, then she recommends only putting down what the cat will eat in a half hour, and after that time, taking the food away.

  9. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    That really must have been scary with Waldo. I had a cat that did something similar that was only 18 months old or so (I wasn't sure exactly how old it was because it was a stray kitten that bolted into my house one day.) I did end up taking it to the vet, and it ended up dying that night from kidney failure. I unfortunately didn't notice the signs soon enough (it probably had feline leukemia - when I first got it, I had it tested. It had a very faint positive that the vet said it could grow out of and that Monkey would be safe due to is vacs.)

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