Kidney disease in cats
Your cat’s kidneys play a vital role in maintaining her health. They help control her blood pressure, regulate the bloodstream, produce important hormones, enzymes, and red blood cells, as well as remove metabolic waste from the blood. If her kidneys aren’t able to do their job properly, this can lead to significant & life-threatening problems, such as kidney failure in your cat.
Early diagnosis is key
Catching chronic kidney disease (CKD) before symptoms become obvious is important, because typically signs do not appear until 75 percent of kidney function has been lost. Make sure your cat gets regular check-ups. The sooner kidney disease is diagnosed, the more time you have to address the underlying cause or slow the disease’s progression.
The chances of a cat developing kidney problems doubles between ages 10 and 15. This is why it’s recommended that all cats 7 years and older get a “senior screening” at their annual check-up in order to determine if they have kidney issues.
Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, is one of the most common causes of severe illnesses in cats, especially in older cats. There are two categories of renal failure in cats: acute renal failure and chronic renal failure. Signs of acute renal failure usually manifest over a week or month’s time, while chronic renal failure is present for a longer period. The risk for cat kidney failure is higher in certain breeds like Persians or Angoras, but the disease is typically acquired.
Potential causes of kidney failure in cats include:
- Decreased blood or urine flow to the kidneys
- High blood pressure
- Obstructions such as kidney stones
- Ingestion of toxic substances, such as antifreeze, pesticides, medications and cleaning chemicals
- Advanced dental disease
- Some long-haired breeds (such as Persians and Angoras) have a genetic predisposition to the disease
- Age older than seven years
- A food high in phosphorus or increased levels of protein can increase the disease’s progression
- Outdoor cats have a higher risk for acute problems due to their potential increased exposure to toxins
Common signs of kidney failure in cats may be difficult to detect because of their similarities to other disorders like diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, cat kidney failure is a progressive disease, and symptoms may not be apparent for a long time. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.
- Reduced appetite
- Increased thirst
- Frequent or no urination
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Poor coat appearance
- Lethargy and depression
- Weight loss
- Bad breath
- Sore mouth or mouth ulcers
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Increased sleeping
How can the right food help?
If your cat has kidney problems, the right nutrition may be able to make a positive impact on her life and potentially even lengthen her lifespan. Consult with your veterinarian and discuss the best food for your cat’s kidney health.
Specially formulated foods for cats with kidney failure concerns can be beneficial by having less protein and phosphorous than other pet foods. Phosphorus restriction can lessen the severity of the symptoms and progression of kidney damage, while decreased, high-quality proteins can help restore normal acid-base levels.