wish to emphasize that the mashed potato diet in the following
letter IS NOT a recommended and approved diet for cats with
chronic renal failure. Darla also has inflammatory bowel disease
and for whatever reasons, this diet works for Darla.
took Darla* to UC Davis last January (1996) to find out about
transplants. At that time we were told that she wasn't sick
enough for a transplant. By May 1996 when she was sick enough,
we again got in touch with the people at Davis. They gave us
the names of three people whose cats went through the transplant
procedure, and we talked to each of them by phone to see what
their experiences had been. It was really a hard decision to
make concerning the transplant, but we eventually decided to
go ahead with it.
to transplant, cats must have an ultrasound of their hearts
(to make sure they have no abnormalities) and an endoscopy with
biopsies of the GI tract (to make sure they do not have inflammatory
bowel disease). Darla went through all of it. We were shocked
to learn, as a result of the endoscopy, that she has inflammatory
bowel disease. If a cat has inflammatory bowel disease, UC Davis
will not do a transplant. So, the transplant option was closed
I understand it, when a cat has inflammatory bowel disease,
its immune system is turned on and battling something in the
intestinal tract -- although no one knows just what. If a foreign
kidney is put into a cat like that, the immune system, which
is already in high gear, just goes crazy trying to kill the
kidney. We were told that inflammatory bowel cats are very,
very sick after transplant, and they usually don't live a month.
Their last days are all spent in intensive care at UC.
May, when we got the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease,
I have been feeding Darla mashed potatoes. I just started that
diet on kind of a fluke, but it has worked out really well for
us. In May, Darla was eating nothing. She wouldn't eat people
food, regular catfood, low-protein catfood, or the inflammatory
bowel food. (The inflammatory bowel food is another prescription
catfood made with a different protein source -- either rabbit,
duck, or venison, -- and potatoes and vitamins. The thinking
is that these are all things that the average cat's GI tract
has never seen before, and hence are unlikely to provoke some
just watched as Darla got weaker and weaker, and I realized
that part of the reason she felt so awful was unrelated to her
kidney and bowel diseases. It was because she was eating nothing.
Even I would feel awful if I didn't eat for a long time. I wanted
to feed Darla something -- anything -- with a lot of calories,
carbohydrates, and fats. It had to be something that I could
get through a syringe. If she were a person, I would have considered
milkshakes and things like that.
I looked at the inflammatory bowel food and saw that the first
ingredient was "Potato." That seemed like a great idea. Potatoes
are bland, low-protein, and I figured they wouldn't upset her
GI tract too much. I made some mashed potatoes with butter and
half-and-half, far richer than I would ever eat them myself,
and gave them to Darla with a syringe. I know this sounds crazy,
but within a few hours she was sitting up and seemed to feel
better. We debated as to whether or not a second feeding that
evening would be a good idea, and finally decided that it wouldn't
4 days of the twice-a-day feedings, Darla was like a normal
cat. I couldn't believe it. I had forgotten how chipper she
had been before, because she had been listless and inactive
for so many months. I called the vet and told him what I was
doing, and he said to just continue. It was low-protein, it
probably wouldn't hurt her, and it seemed to be helping her.
I've been doing that -- twice-a-day syringe feedings of mashed
potatoes -- since May 1996. I also put a tiny half-spoon of
pureed meat into each meal for Darla. She is remarkably cooperative
about being fed with a syringe. She's such a sweetheart. It
takes us about 5 minutes twice a day.
Darla started feeling better, she began to want to eat by herself.
I give her 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dry, low-protein catfood a day,
and she also likes little bits of liver which I cook for her.
She is even interested in things like chicken and fish now,
which she completely ignored for months. The other thing about
the syringe feeding is that I can get 80 to 100cc of fluid into
Darla each day by mouth, and we have never done subcutaneous
BUN has come down (it was actually in the normal range in September)
since we started this diet. Her creatinine is kind of stuck
at about 4.5. Her electrolytes have remained okay, and she's
not anemic. She has also gained weight. Right now she's a little
heavier than she's ever been before. The main thing is that
she seems to feel good.
hand feed her as long as her quality of life is good. I have
my routine worked out. I make up a big batch of potatoes and
pureed chicken and liver every week or two and I freeze little
portions for daily use.
photo is in our Tributes to CRF Cats Gallery.