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Dear Dr. Fox • I have a 2-year-old male yellow tabby. In February, he became very ill, and we took him to the vet — his kidneys were shutting down, and he had an infection.

The first thing the vet asked me was what kind of houseplants we had — we have none. The vet thinks our cat might have ingested something from the trash, possibly something that was poisonous. The vet prescribed antibiotics and a liquid vitamin. Four days later, we took him back to the vet, and he was dehydrated and had a fever. They put him on an IV and kept him for the night. In this time, he had dropped at least a pound, was lethargic and was not eating. Now he will eat canned chicken, drink water and urinate OK, but he is still very lethargic and super thin; he does not groom himself.

He used to play and kept his coat clean. Now he sleeps most of the day. We did try all-natural yogurt, and he seemed to feel a little better, but there is something still wrong. — S.D., St. Louis

DEAR S.D.: Your cat is awfully young to develop renal (kidney) failure, the acute nature of which your veterinarian was right in thinking a poisonous plant, such as any member of the lily family, could have caused. But the fever suggests possible infection.

It is imperative that your cat keeps well hydrated. Make salt-free boiled chicken juice to encourage drinking, even using a dropper in the cat’s mouth if he will accept it. I would break open some probiotic capsules and add a couple to this liquid. Many cats will eat Gerber baby food (the meaty and fishy kind), and a teaspoon or two of canned sardines will provide protein and beneficial oils. Your veterinarian may consider prescribing cyproheptadine to stimulate appetite. Regular gentle body massage will help stimulate circulation.

Your veterinarian should take a blood sample to evaluate kidney function. Chronic kidney disease may be evident and require special treatment and monitoring.


The government of Scotland is taking a significant step for animals, backed by a statement from the British Veterinary Association and its Scottish branch: “As the leading representative body for veterinarians, we have long campaigned on this issue. The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a traveling circus in terms of housing not being able to express normal behavior.”

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