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3 years, Dooley and his winning battle with liver disease

John Popp

Site Supporter
Thanks much for all the kind words and help with Dooley. Not sure if I would have got through without the help of Rascal, Brigitte, Witchy, Patti and all those pulling for Dooley.

3 years in, we continually try to decrease Dooley’s meds, although leaning harder on the lactulose and increase his protein. Small changes at a time, change just one thing and be assured of the results before moving on. To date, that's meant 60-day cycles and they don’t always go well as part of it is messing with his food.

Dooley still gets his seizure medication, but 25% dosage of what he initially was taking. The internal medicine vet says we can take him off of it, but it’s somewhat a safety blanket as we increase his protein.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough we’ve had through any of this was the switch from potato to oatmeal for the percentage of his calories coming from carbs. Keep in mind that although it isn’t species appropriate, too much protein and Dooley’s limited liver function can’t remove the ammonia from his blood quickly enough. The addition of the oatmeal was hopefully to work as a prebiotic, promoting more probiotics and help to evacuate the ammonia from his system. It’s been pretty incredible with how well it’s worked and enabled us to increase by 50% how much lactulose he’ll tolerate. Lactulose, having the property of bonding with and evacuating ammonia, is the one physical attribute we can count on to make all of this work.

We are feeling incredibly blessed by all of this, and Dooley is growing more and more personable. Certainly, the Keppra (for seizure control) was keeping him agitated, loads of oral syringes having been reduced, limited the occasional scruffs and wrestling matches, while also opened the door to pill pockets. The once deep brown rust colored eyes, a sign of liver disease, are now brighter and golden.

It’s just all been an incredible journey and as Dooley and I were playing fetch, I was reminded of how fortunate we are. The challenges we overcame to find out was actually wrong, and outright defiance when they told us he faced too many challenges and the humane thing to do was say goodbye.

No other words, just forever grateful.

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John Popp

Site Supporter
Thanks Renee! He’s such a silly beast, I’m just happy he is part of our lives. A real talker, who started at an early age singing for his breakfast. Quick to greet a stranger but a real scaredy cat if anything is moved or new in a room. A hard charger, with a lack of any grace, and always needs to make sure the ground is rumbling under his paws. A loving little (big) brother who can’t take a nap unless he is touching his older brother.

Most of the challenges are behind us, he’s got his diet and meds all worked out, the only thing is slowly bumping his protein. Perhaps in a couple years we can get to the point where it’s a somewhat normal diet although he’ll always be locked in to some carbs as a prebiotic and at the low end of the protein scale.

Looking back, it’s been quite the challenge and all well worth it.


Staff member
Glad to hear Dooley is doing so much better! You guys have done a fantastic job with him and I'm so glad he has you

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John Popp

Site Supporter
Thanks, Paige!

I feel like we have learned so much through the course. How to actually get the meds into him, what's critical and what's not. How to be able to remove the finicky gene from a cat and get them to eat regularly. Then the best find of all was the use of a prebiotic (Oatmeal, thanks Brigitte and Mike) that seemingly was beyond what anyone in the veterinary community was doing. As I mentioned before, that was the biggest plus in all of this as it promoted 50% more lactulose use, which is the mechanism that goes to the heart of the problem, clearing ammonia.

Also, I'm not sure how I can really share what I learned with anyone in the veterinary community. Dooley's IM vet is now retired, she was fantastic and I'm not sure how much what I was telling her was really sinking in. Perhaps I can write something to Dr. Sharon Center at Cornell, but I believe she is in her 70s now and not sure if I can write in DrSpeak well enough for her to view it as anything more than anecdotal.

Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts on where I could send that info off to it would be appreciated.

John Popp

Site Supporter
That’s a feat in and of itself! How’d you do it?
You keep track of the daily weight of their food, and you also keep track of their weight, at least 3x a week. Once you have a pretty solid number on their average daily intake, subtract one ounce from it and divide that by the number of daily feedings. Once that's established, you make sure you pick up any food leftover after 15 minutes. If they really cry, they can have that extra ounce of food, if not then you have them pretty much locked in. Seasonal changes make some differences as well, so important to keep an eye on their weight.

For us, nothing was worse than Dooley not wanting to eat his food at midnight when it was loaded up with his meds. He's a totally food motivated cat, who just recently began being tricked into putting toys ahead of eating, so when he didn't want to eat it was a battle. For whatever reason, he also eats better for me than Trish, even though I oft need to resort to scooping his food with a bully stick.

All kinds of big fun on that front, but he's pretty dialed in these days.