Murphy and his brittle bones :: Feeding Your Cat
Cats can be their own worst enemies when it comes to diet and owners can unwittingly contribute to medical problems by indulging their pet's fads.
Murphy - a seven month old neutered Bengal cat - was lethargic, reluctant to move or jump and seemed to be in pain when his owners tried to stroke or groom him. Initial examinations showed a painful area on the spine for which painkillers and a course of antibiotics were prescribed. A week later, there appeared to be no improvement and Murphy was referred to the Feline Centre at the Bristol Veterinary School.
Murphy, though bright and alert, had legs which were short in comparison with his body and rotated inwards. Questioning also revealed that he had been fed only on chicken and fish since the age of eight weeks. An unbalanced diet, based mainly on meat, has an inappropriate ratio of calcium to phosphorus and can lead to hyperparathyroidism. This is an excess of activity of the parathyroid gland which produces hormones regulating calcium within the body. Further tests and x-rays showed that Murphy had a decreased level of calcium in his blood and there was an indication of bone fragility and of a fracture in his left front leg.
The specialist staff at Bristol turned their attention to Murphy's diet. He was put on commercial cat food which contains normal amounts of calcium and a course of treatment of calcium tablets was started to supplement his calcium intake. This diet should result in noticeable change within three weeks but in the meantime, additional care has to be taken to prevent further fractures.
Four weeks after the treatment began, Murphy returned to Bristol for a check up. He was happy and playful and tests showed improvement in his bones and blood calcium. Although he still had some deformities in his shoulders, legs and pelvis, the experts do not foresee any specific problems.
Perhaps the old adage - "you are what you eat" - applies to cats just as much as it does to humans!
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