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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 40036
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat is 16 years old and was diagnosed with a thyroid

Customer Question

My cat is 16 years old and was diagnosed with a thyroid issue last month and is currently taking vidalta daily. In his recent blood works the vet discovered increasing sodium levels that are not of concern at the moment however advised to put him on a low sodium diet. Therefore I have moved him from Sheba pouches to Hills science which has 0.08% sodium content per pouch. He doesn't enjoy it very much and therefore we are trying to mix It with another brand of low sodium cat food (Purina One senior 7+ wet food which has 0.36% per pouch) that he will enjoy.I was wondering if you could tell me what a healthy sodium content range in cat food would be for a cat his age and with his condition, preferably in % per pouch of food.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Lisa, the sodium content needs to be expressed as on a dry matter (DM) basis which avoids the confusion when comparing wet, semi-moist, and dry foods. In other words, the % sodium when all moisture is removed from these foods is then compared. A dietary sodium level of 0.2 - 0.5% DM is adequate. Excessive sodium in the diet should be avoided in cats suffering from hypertension. Can you tell me what your cat's sodium level is in mEq/L, please? Has his blood pressure been assessed? Hyperthyroidism is a common cause of hypertension in cats.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hi Michael, Thanks is much for your detailed reply. Yes it has, however I do not have the details of that blood test in front of me. my local vet just called me with the results as mentioned above (so that his sodium levels are slightly raised and we should put him on a low sodium diet). Do you have any recommendation on which food brands to buy?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Look for foods with a sodium level in the low range of 0.2 - 0.5% DM. A good trick is to supplement a low sodium food such as the Hill's 0.08% with lite/cardiac salt (potassium chloride) available in your local market. The added potassium gives him the "salty taste" he craves making it more palatable to him and is of benefit to these elderly cats who are invariably hypokalemic (decreased potassium level) even if testing revealed normal serum potassium levels. This is because measuring serum potassium doesn't tell us anything about intracellular (inside cells) potassium levels. Dosing is as much as he will tolerate! Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I do have one more question. My cat also suffers from a weird wheezing/coughing fit. 2 months ago he started what looked like dry heaving fits which would last up to a minute. This is very unusual. He's never had a hair ball in his life that we know of. After taking the thyroid medication (vidalta) its less of a dry heave and more violent wheezing. They happen nearly everyday, although less now that he's on the medication. What could this be?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Feline asthma should be an important consideraion. Hairballs are a gastrointestinal disorder. Wheezing/coughing are clinical signs of a respiratory disorder. Reverse sneezing should also be considered although it's very rare in cats. Reverse sneezing can arise secondary to an underlying nasal or nasopharyngeal disease - most often an allergic or infectious disorder.