Sharing Sashimi With Samantha

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - March 02, 2011
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In Hawaii there’s a saying: We don’t eat till we’re full; we eat till we’re tired. I’m convinced that this is because of the many cultures that have come to live in our island paradise. Each culture brings a plethora of “good eats” to the table and tempts our tummies to stretch a little bit more. It’s no wonder that our pets get a huge dose of home cooking. For the most part, if it’s healthy for us, it’s probably OK for our furry counterparts. There are times, however, that despite the good intentions, we do more harm than good.

Enter Samantha and her owner Mrs. Shitomi.

Samantha, a 12-year-old domestic shorthair cat, strolled into our hospital one day because she was not eating her cat food with much enthusiasm. Mrs. Shitomi assured me that Samantha used to “inhale” her kibble with fervor, and licked her bowl clean when it contained her favorite canned food. However, for the past three months, Samantha had started to snub her meals.

After a complete physical exam revealing no obvious abnormalities, I discussed the option of doing diagnostic tests with Mrs. Shitomi to thoroughly evaluate Samantha’s health. She agreed, and 30 minutes later we found out what was ailing our cute little patient. Samantha’s blood indicated kidney disease.

As I proceeded to explain Samantha’s problem, I noticed tears welling up in Mrs. Shitomi’s eyes. With tissue box in hand, I assured her that Samantha’s condition was in the early stages and there were things we could do to help.

Kidney disease in cats is a very common problem and usually occurs as they get older. Clinical signs include poor appetite and bouts of vomiting. Samantha’s kidney values were only slightly elevated, and so therapy was directed at a specially formulated kidney diet and a supplement that would reduce the toxins absorbed by her body during the normal digestive process.

One month later, Samantha returned for an appointment to assess the effectiveness of her treatment. The results were surprising, as her blood test revealed values that had worsened. I was worried, and Mrs. Shitomi saw the concern on my face.

“Are you sure that Samantha is eating only the special diet and supplement?” I asked.

“Yes, Doc,” replied Mrs. Shitomi, “but I do entice her to eat with sashimi. Salmon on Monday, Hamachi on Tuesday, Maguro on Wednesday ...”

Bingo - problem solved. I informed Mrs. Shitomi that the special food that Samantha was on contained only small amounts of protein. By supplementing her diet with raw fish, she negated the benefits of the prescription diet. I emphatically told her “no more sashimi.” With a disappointed look on her face, she agreed, but lamented over what to do with the leftover morsels. I had a suggestion that included giving it to her friendly neighborhood veterinarian, but kept those thoughts to myself.

Cats like sashimi just as much as we do, but when kidney disease emerges, then it is definitely not recommended. Mrs. Shitomi had good intentions and spoiled Samantha with savory meals. Unfortunately, the menu did nothing to help Samantha’s kidney problem.

So the next time you feel the urge to spoil your pet with something good to eat, check with your veterinarian first.

If the wild side can’t eat it, maybe your veterinarian can.

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