Kidney disease in cats

Kidney disease consists of a failure in the functioning of the kidneys, so that they cannot develop their function, which results in the appearance of various clearly visible symptoms.

A cat with kidney disease requires specific treatment to be able to lead a normal life and extend its life expectancy. Here we show you everything you need to know about this disease.

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The kidneys, an essential factor

The kidneys, among other functions, are responsible for filtering the body’s blood to clean it of waste substances that are going to be eliminated from the body through urine.

We must know that when the kidneys, for various reasons, begin to fail, they are capable of compensating in their function. Only when a good part of the renal tissue of both is damaged will we appreciate symptoms that, on occasions, are not given too much importance.

This fact is what explains that, in many cases, when going to the vet the kidney disease is already very advanced, which complicates the prognosis. Hence the importance of going to veterinary check-ups that include blood and urine tests for early detection, at least annually from the age of six and every six months in cats older than ten or with a disease already detected.


Acute kidney disease in cats

Sometimes a poisoning or infection can suddenly affect how the kidneys work. Suddenly we will observe that the cat is depressed, dehydrated , without drinking and without urinating or, on the contrary, we will notice that it urinates more. The cat that stops urinating has a worse prognosis.

Vomiting, hypothermia, anorexia , diarrhea or neurological symptoms also appear . It is a situation that requires urgent veterinary assistance since, if it is not treated, the kidneys will stop being functional and the animal will die.

It is important to know that a simple bacterial urine infection that cannot be cured can end up affecting the kidneys if the bacteria manage to ascend to them from the bladder.

Chronic kidney disease in kittens

More commonly and, above all, in older cats, kidney damage occurs gradually , over the months, due to some external circumstance, which is not always known, or to one’s own aging degeneration. What happens is a loss of functional kidney tissue that, therefore, will not be recoverable.

We will appreciate symptoms such as increased water intake and urine output, dehydration, anorexia, vomiting, depression, bad-looking coat, anemia, hypertension, weight loss, bad breath, mouth wounds or weakness.

The symptoms, which worsen over time regardless of the treatment, is due to the accumulation of toxic substances in the body that the kidney is no longer able to eliminate or does so with difficulty.

It is possible that this picture goes unnoticed, especially if we have more cats, since the symptoms, non-specific, can be attributed to a loss of physical condition due to age, hairballs , intestinal problems, etc.


Treatment for kidney disease in cats

The treatment will depend on whether we are facing an acute or chronic case. In the first it is an emergency, so the main thing is to stabilize the animal. To achieve this, admission to the veterinary clinic is required, where intravenous fluid administration begins, in order to regain hydration, and medication adapted to the symptoms.

Stabilization should occur between 24-48 hours. If it does not go back, the cat will die. Survivors can be completely cured or chronically ill.

What if you already have the disease?

In these cats, the damage that has occurred to the kidneys is irreversible, so that they will need lifelong treatment, always bearing in mind that it is an incurable and degenerative disease.

Veterinarians use protocols to classify these cats into four stages according to their severity. Each stage has a recommended treatment to alleviate the symptoms and in almost all the diet becomes a fundamental aspect, as well as hydration.

Thus, the administration of intravenous or subcutaneous fluids, medication to control vomiting, phosphorus binders that are responsible for minimizing its absorption (too much phosphorus is harmful to the kidney), drugs to control blood pressure that tend to have high , etc.

Regular checks are essential. Life expectancy in these cases is 2-3 years , although it will depend a lot on the symptoms and the cat itself. We will focus on quality rather than quantity.


What should a cat with kidney disease eat?

The goal of eating is not to overload the kidneys. For this, on sale we will find numerous options of feed and wet food. If we decide on homemade food, we must consult with the veterinarian to ensure that it is balanced.

It is not strange that these cats are inappetent, therefore, although it is important that they follow a specific diet, it is still more important that they eat, which is why we can give them their favorite foods even if they are not the most convenient.

It is recommended that the food be moist due to the need for hydration and low in phosphorus. Regarding the percentage of proteins, there are discrepancies since an excess is not good for the kidney but a deficiency affects weight.

Hydration is essential

No wonder cats with kidney disease are always dehydrated. This state does not encourage them to eat, which complicates the picture. To help hydration, in addition to offering moist food, we must keep clean and fresh water available.

Many cats are attracted to moving water, so we can put fountains to encourage them to drink more. Broths are another option.

Update on diagnosis


Until now, in addition to the density of the urine, the diagnosis of kidney disease was made based on the result of creatinine and urea in the blood. The problem is that creatinine can be altered in different circumstances and, in addition, it rises when kidney damage is already very advanced.

At present, SDMA, a biomarker that allows earlier detection, has begun to be measured.

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