Has your cat been suffering from kidney problems for a long time? Are you wondering what the reason could be? If you answered yes to these questions, your cat may be suffering from chronic kidney disease.
This illness is quite common in older cats – ages 7 and up – and gets progressively worse as they age. Kittens may also have it from birth. While it is quite common, there is still no known cure for this disease.
Here’s everything you might need to know about chronic kidney disease in cats.
What Could Cause Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats?
Domestic cats often develop chronic kidney disease as they age. Although the actual cause of chronic kidney disease in cats is unknown, here are a few causes that might be responsible for it.
- Some cats may have weak kidneys from birth, eventually resulting in chronic kidney disease.
- Polycystic kidney disease is a common symptom in those cats that inherit chronic kidney disease – mostly Persian and related cats. In cats with polycystic kidney disease, the kidney tissue gets replaced with cysts containing fluid.
- Tumors in the kidney could result in chronic kidney disease.
- Chronic bacterial kidney infection may lead to chronic kidney disease.
Other causes may include exposure to toxins and/or heavy metals, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and infectious diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
What Are The Signs Of Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats?
As kidneys perform innumerable functions like getting rid of toxins in the blood and regulating water content and blood pressure, the signs that each cat displays may vary and are often quite vague. They are also subtle initially and get worse gradually; it’s also quite rare that the signs appear all of a sudden.1
- Your cat may start feeling excessively thirsty.
- Because of feeling thirsty, drinking more water, and the inability to concentrate urine, your cat may need to urinate more often.
- Urine leakage may occur because of not being able to hold the urine in the bladder.
- Your cat may not feel like eating much due to a loss of appetite, resulting in weight loss.
- Waste builds up due to improper functioning of the kidneys. This waste accumulation is likely to make your cat feel lethargic.
- Your cat may experience high blood pressure, or hypertension.
- Your cat may become anemic – resulting in a reduced concentration of red blood cells – which in turn may make their gums pale pink or white (in severe cases).
How Can Chronic Kidney Disease Be Diagnosed In Cats?
Unfortunately, when kidney disease becomes chronic, there is no cure. However, identifying it as early as possible could help increase the quality and duration of your pet’s life. Your vet may recommend running these tests.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can help determine the concentration of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine. While both of these are the main waste products from your kidneys, creatinine is a better indicator for adequate kidney functioning.2 High levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine indicate a possibility of improper kidney functioning.
- Urine Analysis (Urinalysis): Urine analysis involves checking the pH of your cat’s urine and the presence of protein, blood cells, and bacteria that shouldn’t ideally be in urine.
Other tests include abdomen ultrasounds, X-rays, and biopsy evaluation. If your cat has hypertension, checking blood pressure will also be a part of the tests conducted.
What Is The Treatment For Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats?
The primary goal of any treatment method adopted for chronic kidney disease is to reduce the amount of waste in the blood.
- Your vet might recommend changing your cat’s diet. A diet low in phosphorus, sodium, and protein and high in fiber and water soluble vitamins like vitamins B and C have been found to greatly improve the quality and duration of the lives of cats suffering from chronic kidney disease.3 However, it’s important to be patient while getting your cat used to such a diet. The change in diet should be gradual.
- If your cat has high blood pressure and/or anemia, medication can control them.
- Keep checking to see if your cat has a proper supply of fresh water so that there are lesser chances of dehydration.
- Ensure that the surroundings are calm so that your cat stays stress free.
- Frequent checkups are also important to ensure that your cat’s treatment is helping.
Now that you know everything important about chronic kidney disease in cats, you can care for your cat the right way.
|↑1||Chronic Kidney Disease. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.|
|↑2||Boyd, L. M., C. Langston, K. Thompson, K. Zivin, and M. Imanishi. “Survival in cats with naturally occurring chronic kidney disease (2000–2002).” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 22, no. 5 (2008): 1111-1117.|
|↑3||Survival of cats with naturally occurring chronic renal failure: effect of dietary management.|