You may have noticed by now that I'm not a Vet, but I play one on my web site. Part of being a good pet owner is being responsible for maintaining my cat's good health. I don't follow Doctors orders blindly. In fact, I constantly ask if there's another way to look at a prognosis or another way to treat a problem, or a way to have prevented it in the first place.
A serious subject I've noticed that's painfully lacking is the element of proper nutrition and it's health effects on our cats. Time and time again, I've been told to get this "Prescription Diet" because it has the word "prescription" in it and can only be gotten at my Vet, so therefore it must be good, even if it's DRY food, full of grains and lacking in decent source protein. Even though my cat's health problems might have been solved by feeding my cat a raw diet or grain-free canned diet, that's much more nutritious and doesn't tamper with their digestion and throw them into cycles of illness, inflammation of the liver, pancreas, stomach, etc...give them diabetes and crystals in their urine. Are Vet's reading the labels on this stuff or enjoying too many perks from the sales staff of all those "specialty" diets?
I want my Vet to know MORE about nutrition and sell high quality, species appropriate food in his Clinic, not heaping bags of dry diets.
I'm also peeved about the Metacam debate. As I've ranted previously, there are many in our community who feel using Metacam in small doses is perfectly fine, even though Metacam is "for dogs only." Cats don't mix well with NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). In fact "NSAIDs decrease production of substances that protect the stomach and GI tract from the acid and reduce blood flow to the area. This can cause ulceration and perforation of the stomach or intestines. NSAIDs also decrease the blood flow to the kidneys causing damage and renal failure."*
I've spoken with three Vets. One at Mill Plain Vet in Danbury, CT, Dr. Whitney at VREC in Norwalk, CT and Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, which, if you watch Animal Cops, yes, it's THAT hospital, which is part of the ASPCA in NYC.
Each Vet told me their concerns about using Metacam. Two of the three just won't use it in cats and have never seen a good outcome using it. Dr. Murray shared her concerns with me regarding giving Bob metacam after he fell over 16 feet off my deck and needed something for the pain. Bob's ALT was sky high at over 700, yet he was given Metacam. Then, I read this in an email from Dr. Murray:
Bob may not have liver disease, but clearly something is causing his high ALT, so why give him this stuff? Another web site declares that
Metacam Kills! Maybe not all of this is true information, maybe only half of it is? Maybe only two cases? The thing is, even if ONE is true then something is going on here. I know someone who's using Metacam for long term pain management in their cat, but the dose is ONE DROP and Bob got far more than that i his first, of two doses.
So now I'm going to sit here and wait. Next week I'll pay to have another blood test done to check's Bob's ALT AND to check his kidney function. I shouldn't have to do this and I shouldn't have to worry that I've done something irreversible to my cat, but I'm stuck. I've done the deed. Yes, I will say Bob seemed much happier after the Metacam, but was that happiness to be short lived?
I still have the damn bottle of this stuff on my desk. The purple box is lying their taunting me. I want to stomp on it. I think I will. I wish there WAS a safe NSAID for cats and I just read that now Metacam IS supposedly "safe" as an injectable, but I believe it's only for use in post surgery pain relief, certainly not for every day pain management or even for a short course treatment.[note: after this post went live, Dr. Murray cautioned me again, noting that even after ONE INJECTION, Metacam can cause renal failure, so referring to metacam, in any form, as being "safe" would not be accurate.]
Dr. Murray and a few others have suggested using buprenorphine, a semi-synthetic opiate, also called Buprenex. Dr. Murray told me that it's " a mild narcotic that can be given under the tongue (it absorbs from the oral mucosa and the kitty dose is usually only about 0.1 ml so a tiny volume which is nice too)." This is a much safer alternative, but does it answer every cat's health needs when they are in pain? I can't say. My guess is probably not.
One day there will be a truly safe NSAID or something equivalent to help cats who are in pain. For now, please, read the label, ask your Vet when the meds say "for dogs only" and push back if they say not to worry about it. There IS cause for worry, not panic. There IS cause to ASK QUESTIONS. It can save your beloved pet's life.