Lest anyone think that vets are much (or any) better or different than Western medical doctors when it comes to harming patients, I present the following. Recently I have had reason to investigate the symptoms, diagnostics and treatment for chronic kidney disease in cats. My beautiful cat Mama, whom I adopted along with one of her beautiful kittens from the shelter nearly 6 years ago, has been having some weird symptoms including head twitching and vomiting. When I Googled, I found that both of those things are symptoms of chronic kidney disease, or CKD.
Cats with CKD also have extreme thirst, because CKD causes dehydration where the kidneys are not functioning optimally to remove waste, so they produce extreme amounts of urine instead in order to attempt to remove the waste more frequently, albeit less efficiently. From what I gather, while CKD causes dehydration via frequent urination, CKD is also caused by dehydration, which damages the kidneys. In other words, with cats, dehydration is a vicious cycle that causes kidney damage, which causes increasing dehydration and so on.
I do not know Mama’s history before she was left at the shelter with a litter of kittens, but I suspect that she may have lived with someone who was homeless, or lived outside, because she likes to drink out of plastic water bottles. When I first got her, she would sleep under the covers with me, right alongside my legs, as if she were in a sleeping bag. As this is a very dry, desert area, it is likely that she was unable to find adequate water at times, especially if she lived outside, or with someone in unstable housing. In short, she may’ve already had preexisting dehydration-related kidney damage when I got her.
I have always put out water and kefir for the cats, as well as giving them wet food and/or wet toppings, as my intuition told me that was the right thing to do to keep them hydrated in the desert. My vet and other people whom I trusted told me not to worry about hydration, and that cats will keep themselves hydrated just fine by drinking water, even on a diet of 100% dry food, but I felt strongly that they needed more. As it turns out, they probably needed even more fluids than I was giving them, and these people, trusted and experienced and self-assured as they were, apparently didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about.
While researching CKD I found this site which has been created and maintained by a UK woman who had several cats become ill and die from the disease. When her first cat was diagnosed, she had no knowledge about or experience with CKD and apparently made some poor treatment decisions from which she learned terrible lessons, knowledge that she wants to pass along to other cat owners so that they may not suffer the horrible blow of a beloved pet lost unnecessarily, or unnecessarily quickly, to disease. This site is extensive and packed with information, but what struck me immediately was this: many to most cats with CKD die or are euthanized due to the effects of starvation, not directly from CKD, and the starvation is often a direct consequence of the medical interventions they are subjected to once they become ill. In other words, the standard of care that vets inflict on CKD cats causes “side effects” aka iatrogenic illness and injury that is worse than the disease itself, often directly causing the animals’ deaths.
Continue reading “Iatrogenic Illness & Injury Caused by Veterinary Care. Or, Vets Hurting Pets.”