Short Takes: 04/07

Renal diets and salt; declawing by laser; how to find your lost cat

Second Thoughts on Renal Diets

Ever since Gertie, the late great Short Takes muse, developed urinary tract disease – then went on a special renal diet and subsequently developed hypertension (high blood pressure) and went blind because her retinas detached – weve wondered: Which was worse, the disease or the effects of the treatments?

After Gertie passed away (at 20-something years, and of unrelated causes) we learned that some renal diets include extra sodium chloride (salt) to make cats drink more water and to keep more dilute urine washing through their kidneys. Indeed, Gertie gulped water like a horse, perhaps a result of her kidney disease or maybe from the salt in her diet. And our kitty litter bills reflected her prodigious output. But doesnt extra salt raise blood pressure, as it does in Gerties human companion?

Along comes a report in the journal, Veterinary Therapeutics (Vol. 7, No. 4), titled “Effects of Sodium Chloride on Selected Parameters in Cats.” Maybe the study by veterinary researchers at the University of Tennessee can answer our lingering questions about Gertie and her hypertension.

The long-term study of 36 cats with renal insufficiency had some surprises: No, high sodium chloride diets do not raise cats blood pressure. Yes, the special diets might reduce renal function even more than the original disease.

In the words of the researchers (who were funded by the Hills pet food company):”In addition to the progressive deterioration of renal function and increased fractional excretion, our study shows that NaCl was associated with an increase in total urinary calcium excretion in cats with an equal incremental change in initial serum creatinine concentration.”

Were still confused. But if Frannie, the current Short Takes muse ever develops urinary tract disease – well really ask some questions.

Goldfingers Laser and Cats Claws

Speaking of Muse Frannie (who gets to keep her claws, as we promised), heres a scientific report that conjures memories of the James Bond villain, Auric Goldfinger: “Evaluation of short-term limb function following unilateral carbon dioxide laser or scalpel onychectomy in cats,” as reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 230, No. 3).

While Goldfinger tried to use an industrial laser to vaporize Agent 007s manhood, veterinary researchers at Iowa State University used a medical laser to declaw 10 cats, and good old fashioned scalpels to declaw 10 more, for comparison.

As expected, the laser onychectomy procedures were relatively bloodless and required no tourniquets or bandages on the cats paws. (James Bonds castration might have been the same because the laser promotes rapid healing with a sort of charbroiling effect.) The researchers reported: “In the immediate postoperative period, cats in the laser surgery group were less lame and arguably had less pain than cats in the scalpel group.”

Thanks, Doc, well keep that in mind. You might recall that Goldfinger had a cat, too. A yellow one. Rent the DVD to see whats worse than losing your claws.

How to Find a Lost Cat

Sometimes that same journal (JAVMA Vol. 230, No. 2) has stories with happy endings, like this one: “Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost cat.”

The survey of 138 cat owners who reported losing their feline friends in one county in Ohio revealed the most successful way of getting reunited: posting signs with pictures around the neighborhood.

Actually, more cats than were spotted by sign-reading neighbors simply returned home on their own. Maybe the cats saw the signs, too, and figured: “If Id known they cared that much, I wouldnt have strayed. Now take that poster down. The picture makes me look fat.” v