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Light sensitivity in older cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: British shorthair
Age: 11-15 years
Jack, 12 years old, was diagnosed with CKD 6months ago and is having Hills prescription diet K/D plus ipakitine powder. He has had 2 infusion treatments.
He also eats raw and cooked fish and cooked chicken
The problem I am asking about is the that he has his eyes closed or semi closed nearly all the time as if maybe he finds light uncomfortable. He doesnt rub them and there is no discharge. He also seems to jerk a lot when sitting on my lap. He eats ok but not keen on the Hills. He goes outside but not as much as before.
Are the above symptoms relevant to his condition? I have asked my vet about his eyes but he dismissed it as being important.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for an interesting question. The symptoms that you have described of Jack jerking and squinting are really not normal symptoms to have along with kidney disease.

I'm wondering if part of Jack's problem could be because of the raw fish in his diet. There are some fish that can produce something called thiaminase if eaten raw. (Unfortunately I don't know which fish will do this.) If a cat is consistently fed thiaminase it can cause a thiamine deficiency. Most cats with a thiamine deficiency will have gastrointestinal effects first. So, a lack of appetite could be because of this. And then, we can see neurological effects. It certainly is possible that the eye squinting is connected to a neurological problem.

I know Jack probably loves the raw fish but I would advise taking it out of his diet and after a few weeks we may find that the symptoms get better.

There are some other things that could cause light sensitivity in a cat. However, with no discharge, the list is small. If there was discharge I would wonder about a herpes virus or a condition called KCS (dry eye.)

You may want to ask your vet if it is possible that she has a detached retina. The retina is the back of the eye and sometimes if a cat's blood pressure is increased the retina can detach. This causes blindness. It really doesn't cause jerking, but I'm wondering if the jerking is related to him having trouble seeing? It is often hard to tell if a cat is blind or not because they hide it well.

Cats with kidney problems can often have issues with their blood pressure, so it's not a bad idea to have the blood pressure checked.

If this is normal then you could ask your vet for a referral to see a veterinary ophthalmologist. These are vets who are used to dealing with unusual eye conditions in cats and dogs.

Hopefully taking the fish out of his diet will help!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you, actually the raw fish was a recent addition to his diet but if it is possibly not good for him I will stop feeding it anyway. I will ask to have his blood pressure checked. This is a terrible condition to manage:-( I know I shouldn't give him ordinary cat food but sometimes I have to mix some with the diet food to get him to eat at all.

Lynda


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.