Kidney Disease In Cats
Kidneys are involved in the regulation of several body processes. They are in charge of controlling the blood pressure and regulating the amount of certain substances in the blood. Kidneys also produce a hormone that is necessary for the production of red blood cells and filtrate the blood to remove metabolic waste products such as urea. Feline kidneys are susceptible to various life-threatening diseases that can lead to renal dysfunction and death. Cats who are seven years of age and older have a higher risk of developing kidney disease.
Kidney disease can be classified as either acute or chronic. The difference between these two is the time of onset of the disease. Signs of acute kidney disease present in a period of weeks, whereas chronic disease signs present for a long time (months or years). In addition, acute kidney disease can occur in cats of any age, while chronic kidney disease usually presents in adult and senior cats (usually older than seven years).
Signs Of Kidney Failure In Cats
• Increase in water consumption (polydipsia)
• Increase urination frequency (polyuria)
• Weight loss
• Decreased appetite
• Occasional vomiting
If these signs are observed, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.
Acute Kidney Disease In Cats
Acute renal failure is commonly caused by the ingestion of substances that are toxic to the kidneys, such as antifreeze, pesticides, cleaning fluids and certain human medications. For example, consuming a tablet of ibuprofen (e.g. Advil) can lead to a severe and quite possibly fatal episode of acute renal failure in a cat. When acute kidney failure is diagnosed and treated early, the damage can be reversed and cats may have a normal life spam.
Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats
On recent years, there has been an increase in the presentation of chronic kidney disease in cats, which some veterinarians attribute to the fact that cats now have a longer life-spam. Chronic kidney disease is an incurable condition that affects older cats. Unfortunately, by the time a cat shows signs of chronic kidney failure, 75% or more of the functional kidney tissue has been destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. This kidney damage is caused by several conditions (e.g. dental diseases) that often go untreated.
Treatment Of Kidney Disease In Cats
Acute renal failure is a medical emergency, which is treated by correcting electrolyte imbalances in the blood and by resolving the underlying cause (e.g. anti-freeze toxicity). On the other hand, chronic renal failure is treated with conservative medical measures (e.g. intravenous fluid therapy) and diet modifications that have the objective of preventing further kidney damage and increasing the cat’s life-spam.
Nutritional Management Of Chronic Kidney Disease
Renal insufficiency can be managed with a proper diet. Cats who are diagnosed early and treated properly can have good quality of life for 1 to 3 years (sometimes more). A proper diet for this disease should include a small amount of high quality and easily digestible protein (cocked eggs, chicken, liver, among other), low amounts of phosphorus and sodium. In addition, it is thought that vitamin D and fatty acids can be beneficial for the management of this disease. The recommended concentrations of nutrients for a renal diet are: 30% of high quality protein, 0.5% of phosphorus, 0.24% of sodium and 0.33% of omega-3 fatty acids.
Your cat will need to eat this special diet for the rest of his or her life. Some cats may refuse to eat, in which cases you may need to hand feed him/her. You should talk with your veterinarian before you decide to hand feed your cat, because when food is forced, some animals develop food aversion.
If you need to hand feed your cat, you can use Innovet’s Silicone Tipped Soft Feeding Syringes, which are made with medical grade silicone to prevent damage to gums, cheeks and teeth. The durable silicone tips are soft and flexible yet difficult for cats to chew through.
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Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Feline Health Center. Diagnosis: Kidney Disease. Retrieved on April 16 from: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/kidneydisease.cfm.
Helio Am, (2005): Manejo De La Insuficiencia Renal Cronica: Viviendo Más Y Mejor. Rev. Navc, 8 (12): 1-3.