- An Introduction to Feline Kidney Function
- Signs and Stages of Feline Kidney Disease
- Common Causes and Risk Factors for Kidney Disease in Cats
- Recommended Diet and Nutrition for Cats with Kidney Disease
- Supplements and Medications for Additional Kidney Support
- At Home Care and Monitoring for Cats with Kidney Issues
- Conclusion: Prioritizing Early Kidney Disease Detection and Care
The kidneys play a vital role in removing waste from the blood and regulating fluid balance in cats. Unfortunately, kidney disease is very common in older cats and can significantly impact their health and quality of life if not managed properly.
This guide will provide an overview of feline kidney health, signs of kidney problems, recommended nutrition and care for cats with kidney issues. But remember, you should consult vets for more medical advices.
An Introduction to Feline Kidney Function
The two bean-shaped kidneys are located in the abdomen, along the spine. Their main functions are:
- Removing toxins and waste products from the blood through filtration and excretion.
- Regulating electrolyte and fluid balance in the body.
- Producing hormones that help regulate blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.
Healthy kidneys constantly filter the blood, removing waste and extra fluid. This filtered fluid becomes urine which passes from the kidneys to the bladder for excretion.
When the kidneys are damaged and unable to properly filter blood, dangerous levels of toxins and fluids can accumulate leading to kidney disease ↗.
Signs and Stages of Feline Kidney Disease
Kidney disease often progresses slowly over time. In the early stages there may be no obvious clinical signs. Later, as kidney function declines, several symptoms may be noticed:
- Increased thirst and urination - The kidneys cannot concentrate urine properly leading to excessive drinking and urinating. Your cat may constantly seek out water.
- Poor appetite and weight loss - Toxins in the blood make cats feel unwell and lose interest in food. This leads to muscle wasting and weight loss.
- Vomiting and diarrhea - The buildup of waste products can cause nausea and intestinal issues.
- Poor haircoat - Unhealthy kidneys disrupt nutrient absorption leading to a dull, brittle coat.
Stages of Feline Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is categorized into 4 stages ↗ based on blood test values:
|IRIS Guidelines: Staging Feline CKD by Serum Creatinine Concentration|
|STAGE & DESCRIPTION||SERUM CREATININE CONCENTRATION|
|Stage 1 Nonazotemic CKD||< 1.6||< 140|
|Stage 2 Mild Renal Azotemia||1.6 to 2.8||140 to 250|
|Stage 3 Moderate Renal Azotemia||2.9 to 5||251 to 440|
|Stage 4 Severe Renal Azotemia||> 5||> 440|
- Stage 1 - Kidney damage with minimal impact on function. Managed with diet change.
- Stage 2 - Mild decrease in kidney function. Early treatment can slow progression.
- Stage 3 - Moderate loss of function. Symptoms may be seen. Medications needed.
- Stage 4 - Severe dysfunction. Hospitalization required. High mortality risk.
The earlier kidney issues are detected, the better the long-term prognosis with proper care.
Common Causes and Risk Factors for Kidney Disease in Cats
Some of the main reasons cats develop kidney problems include:
- Old age - Kidney disease most often occurs in older cats, especially over 10 years old. It is estimated over half of cats over 15 have some degree of kidney dysfunction.
- Genetics - Purebred cats like Persians and Siamese are predisposed to inherited kidney disorders.
- Infections - Bacterial infections, abscesses, and inflammation can all damage kidney tissues.
- Toxins - Exposure to toxins like antifreeze, chemicals, or tainted pet food can poison the kidneys.
- Dental disease - Bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and infect the kidneys.
- Obesity - Excess weight puts strain on the kidneys and is linked to earlier onset of kidney problems.
- Diagnosing Kidney Issues - Vets use blood tests, urinalysis, ultrasound and other imaging to check kidney function and look for damage or blockages.
Recommended Diet and Nutrition for Cats with Kidney Disease
Adjusting your cat's diet is a key part of managing kidney issues. The goals are to reduce workload on the kidneys while providing optimal nutrition.
- Increased fluids - Encourage your cat to drink more by feeding wet food, adding water to food, using pet fountains ↗, and placing multiple water bowls around your home.
- High quality proteins - Moderate protein levels from high bioavailability sources like chicken, eggs, or fish. Too much protein stresses kidneys.
- Omega-3 fatty acids - Found in fish oil. Help reduce inflammation and damage to kidney tissues.
- Antioxidants - Found in fruits and veggies. Help neutralize harmful free radicals.
- Reduced phosphorus - Restrict phosphorus to protect kidneys. Low phosphorus prescription diets recommended.
- Potassium regulation - Usually lowered in kidney diets to avoid electrolyte imbalance. Levels may need increasing in late stage kidney disease.
- Prescription kidney diets - Hill's K/D ↗, Royal Canin Renal ↗, and Purina NF ↗ are veterinary diets formulated to support kidney health.
Supplements and Medications for Additional Kidney Support
Depending on your cat's stage of kidney disease, your vet may prescribe medications to help manage their condition and support kidney function.
- Potassium binders - Given when potassium levels are too high. Help remove excess potassium through excretion. Examples are calcium carbonate, lanthanum carbonate.
- Calcitriol - Active form of vitamin D. Supports kidney function and healthy mineral levels in the blood. Read the supplements reviews to treat chronic kidney disease ckd from webmd.
- Anti-nausea medication - Helps with nausea and appetite problems. Ondansetron and maropitant are two common choices.
- Phosphate binders - Given when phosphorus levels are high. Bind to excess phosphorus in food to block its absorption.
- ACE inhibitors - Help dilate blood vessels around kidneys to maintain proper blood flow and pressure. One type is benazepril.
- Antioxidants - Help protect kidneys from free radical damage. Vitamin E, vitamin C, and alpha lipoic acid may be recommended.
Always consult your veterinarian before giving any supplements, as they may interact with medications. Work closely with your vet to develop the best treatment plan.
At Home Care and Monitoring for Cats with Kidney Issues
As a cat owner, there are several things you can do at home to support your cat's kidney health:
- Routine vet checkups - Monitor bloodwork every 3-6 months to catch changes early. Annual exams also check urine, blood pressure, weight trends.
- Palpating for kidney size changes - Gently feel along your cat's abdomen. Enlarged kidneys could indicate inflammation or blockages.
- Tracking water intake and urine output - Note how frequently your cat urinates and drinks. Increased frequency may signal kidney dysfunction.
- Weighing regularly - Weigh your cat every 1-2 weeks. Consistent weight loss may indicate kidney problems.
- Grooming and dental care - Regular brushing ↗ helps prevent kidney infections from dental bacteria entering the bloodstream.
- Reduce stress - Limit stress to keep kidneys working optimally. Make diet and lifestyle changes gradually. Ensure easy litter box access.
With attentive home monitoring and care, kidney disease can be managed to give cats the best quality of life possible. But remember don't leave your cat alone for a long time even you track their condition at home.
Conclusion: Prioritizing Early Kidney Disease Detection and Care
Kidney health is so vital for your cat's overall wellbeing. Being proactive allows for earlier diagnosis and better management of kidney problems. Monitor your senior cat closely for any signs of dysfunction. Work with your vet to diagnose issues early and start kidney-friendly nutrition and medications promptly.
Caring for a cat with kidney disease takes diligent monitoring and dietary adjustments. But with attentive home care and the right medications and cat food, kidney function can be preserved and symptoms controlled to extend a healthy lifespan.
Tools like automatic feeders ↗ and pet fountains ↗ can also help cats with kidney issues thrive. Automatic feeders allow you to precisely portion the prescription kidney diet on a set schedule in a smart way. Fountains encourage increased water consumption to flush kidneys
- Cat Feeding Times and Frequency Tips - Petlibro– PETLIBRO
- Preventing Overeating and Obesity in Pets: How an Automatic Feeder Can– PETLIBRO
- Do Vets Recommend Water Fountains for Cats?– PETLIBRO
- The Importance Of Fresh Food For Your Beloved Pets– PETLIBRO
- How to Keep Your Pets Hydrated This Summer– PETLIBRO