By Dr. Becker
This month’s real story features a strikingly handsome senior cat named Baby Boy.
Baby Boy was rescued by his dad, Scott, and Scott’s girlfriend in 2001 when he was about a year old. Through the years and the many ups and downs of life, Scott came to think of the coal black cat with the gorgeous green eyes as his closest friend.
Baby Boy's Health Problems Begin at Age 9
Baby Boy was a healthy kitty until he developed a urethral obstruction at the age of nine. Baby Boy’s regular vet told Scott that not only did the condition have a high recurrence rate, it could also be life threatening.
The vet recommended a “prescription” diet containing beef byproducts. That’s when Scott decided to seek a second opinion … and that’s how I met Baby Boy.
Scott and I discussed the best nutrition for his cat, especially given his condition, and I explained that a species-appropriate raw meat diet that promotes a dilute and acidic urine pH would very likely permanently resolve Baby Boy’s feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Cats are designed to eat a meat-based, moisture-rich, carbohydrate-free diet, and when they receive this type of nutrition, in most cases their urinary tracts function perfectly.
Scott took on the challenge of weaning his cat off dry food, and it was no small task, as Baby Boy was a dry food addict! But with a lot of patience and persistence on Scott’s part, Baby Boy was eventually transitioned to a balanced 100 percent raw food diet.
A New and Frightening Diagnosis
A few weeks after I met Scott and his cat, at a recheck with their regular vet, Baby Boy was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The vet recommended that Scott take his cat to a board-certified veterinary cardiologist for a heart ultrasound, called an echocardiogram.
Scott remembers being very concerned as he waited for the appointment with the cardiologist, and unfortunately, his fears were confirmed: Baby Boy was diagnosed with the beginning stages of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) (page 1). HCM is a common condition in cats in which the walls and ventricles of the heart become much too thick, or hypertrophied.
As the disease progresses, the structure of the heart changes and heart function deteriorates. The thickened muscle walls become less flexible and the left ventricle can no longer relax or stretch efficiently to fill with blood. These changes often create a heart murmur because the heart valves don’t grow to accommodate the enlarged heart muscle, and the valves become insufficient.
The veterinary cardiologist told Scott there was nothing he could do, and that Baby Boy’s heart condition was progressive. He suggested Scott wait three to four months and then repeat the echocardiogram to determine how quickly the disease was progressing.
Next Scott spoke with his regular vet, who also told him there was nothing that could be done to reverse or stop the progression of Baby Boy’s heart disease. Scott was devastated.
Baby Boy's Heart Healing Protocol
Since Scott was open-minded about alternative therapies and integrative vet medicine, he brought Baby Boy back to my clinic, and as he tells the story, I had a much different attitude about his cat’s situation than the other vets. I explained there are a variety of herbs and nutraceuticals for heart support that can benefit cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Three months later Baby Boy had a follow-up echocardiogram and the results were very positive. The veterinary cardiologist told Scott that Baby Boy’s heart measurements were normal, and no murmur could be detected (page 2). As Scott remembers it, the cardiologist and his regular vet were quite perplexed as to how this had happened. Scott told them about Baby Boy’s natural heart support regimen, but of course they were very doubtful the supplements had caused the improvement in the cat’s condition. They suggested Scott return for a third echocardiogram in another three to four months to determine if the improvements were just temporary.
In a few months, Scott returned with Baby Boy for a third echocardiogram that showed the heart was still a normal size, with no heart murmur (page 3). Scott was ecstatic to realize he no longer had to bring his cat in for follow-up tests. Baby Boy no longer had a heart condition!
Next Health Problem: Hyperthyroidism
The next time I spoke with Scott, he told me his regular vet had done some routine blood work on Baby Boy and was concerned about his thyroid levels (page 4). She had recently diagnosed the cat with hyperthyroidism and offered Scott several options for managing the condition.
I’ll never forget Scott explaining those options to me. One was to remove part of the thyroid. Another was to prescribe a drug that may have side effects. The third option was radioactive iodine treatment, which would involve leaving Baby Boy quarantined in a treatment room for a week to 10 days until he was no longer radioactive and could go home. To Scott, none of those solutions sounded very safe for his cat.
I explained to Scott that there was no reason not to try non-toxic options first, before jumping into more traditional (and scarier) treatments. He agreed, and we decided to try homeopathy to treat Baby Boy’s thyroid problem.
I started with homeopathic Calc Carb 30C once daily. After a few months we rechecked Baby Boy’s thyroid levels and they had improved (page 5). So I suggested we increase the potency of the homeopathic, which means giving a stronger dose less frequently. Scott gave Baby Boy a 200C dose every three to four weeks, based on my instructions, and we checked the cat’s thyroid levels again several months later. They were high normal (page 6). Several months later we rechecked thyroid levels and they were well within normal range (page 7).
Next I suggested we go with a 1M (very strong) potency homeopathic intermittently, but continuously, depending on his symptoms. This turned about to be a frequency of about every three to four months. This treatment plan continued to manage his thyroid disease very well (pages 8-9). I also recommended Baby Boy not be fed any seafood, because seafood is high in iodine, which can stimulate thyroid hormone levels.
Baby Boy's Kidneys Start to Fail
Baby Boy’s next health issue was elevated kidney enzyme levels (page 10). Scott was very aware that chronic kidney disease marks the demise of many older cats. In addition, kidney problems are often revealed when hyperthyroidism is brought under control in an older cat. It was my feeling this was the case with Baby Boy.
Scott explained that his regular vet had recommended a special low protein canned cat food to address the kidney disorder. However, Scott’s feeling about that, which he shared with me, was, “It really disturbs me, because I know cats are obligate carnivores that thrive on a species-appropriate diet, which I’m feeding.” We decided to continue feeding Baby Boy his balanced, commercially available raw food diet and add in a natural kidney support supplement.
Baby Boy at 13
Baby Boy’s kidney values have improved since he began kidney support (page 11), and Scott knows regular blood work and urinalyses are the keys to monitoring his cat’s kidney function. As with everything concerning the care of his cat, Scott is very diligent about getting the tests done routinely.
According to Scott, Baby Boy looks great, feels good, and is a happy, thriving feline. We’ll continue to monitor his organ function and fine-tune his protocol based on test results and any symptoms that may appear.
I asked Scott to share his feelings for his pet, and here’s his response: “Baby Boy is my best friend, period. And because I love him so much, I would never do anything for him that falls the least bit short of what is best for him. And in my journey with him, and what I’m providing for him, I believe is the very best opportunity for a long and vibrant life. I honestly believe that I’m on the right path.”
Today, Baby Boy is a feline senior citizen of 13. He continues to do well after having his many medical issues treated holistically. Most exciting is his organ function continues to be healthy based on the results we see from his routine lab tests.
According to Scott, “Baby Boy is healthy, happy and vibrant. He greets all strangers at the door and demands their attention, just as he does mine. He runs around the house at night, full of vim and vigor, playing with his imaginary friends. Baby Boy is a happy cat. He thrives!”
As far as I’m concerned, that says it all.
Scott and Baby Boy