Kidney failure in cats: causes, symptoms and life expectancy

Renal failure in cats or chronic renal failure is one of the most common conditions in older cats. Normally, this dysfunction progresses gradually as the symptoms of the disease worsen. The rate at which renal failure progresses in a cat depends on each specimen and varies widely from animal to animal. Early detection is very important. Good care and proper treatment can improve the feline’s quality of life. It can even slow the progression of the disease, which can delay the life expectancy of the animal.

Causes of kidney failure in cats

Chronic renal failure is the result of long-term kidney dysfunction. The disease is irreversible and prevents these organs from performing their functions normally, so the affected cat’s body does not get filtration and removal of impurities from the blood. Normally, there is no clear origin of the pathology, and in the biopsies performed there is only a transformation of normal tissues into fibers, accompanied by swelling of the organ. The truth is, these symptoms are likened to many other ailments as well, such as pancreatitis in cats. However, there is some evidence that we are dealing with a case of this kidney condition:

  •  Polycystic in the kidneys. They primarily affect exotic breeds. Cysts replace healthy tissue.
  •  Tumors, such as lymphoma, which cause severe kidney failure.
  •  Bladder infections can affect the kidneys.
  • Genetic issues, continuous inflammation, toxic elements?

However, in most cases, it is impossible to determine the main cause of the cat’s kidney failure. Medical actions are carried out based on symptomatic images. In the rare cases where the cause of the failure is determined, treatment is attempted to try to stop the progression of the damage.

Kidney failure can occur in any cat. However, it is more likely to be detected in middle-aged or older animals. The older the cat, the more common it is. From the age of 15, the chances of the animal suffering from this disease are considerably increased.

Symptoms of renal failure in cats

We are faced with a pathology that evolves very slowly. However, in some patients, symptoms appear suddenly and without warning. Most of them are due to the buildup of toxins in the blood. The most common symptom is that the cat with kidney failure does not want to eat, with the resulting weight loss. Additionally, afflicted pets often exhibit symptoms of dehydration, lethargy, and depressive behaviors.

If you have a cat with kidney failure, you will notice that he drinks a lot of water. The cause is that it fails to retain fluids because it is not able to concentrate urine. You may also notice that the coat deteriorates, vomits, has halitosis, and sores appear in the mouth. In general, the animal gives the impression of being very weak. Over time, all of this symptomatology gets worse.

The kidney is needed for countless bodily functions. This is why kidney failure in cats is accompanied by countless complications: potassium depletion, increased phosphorus, acidosis, high blood pressure, anemia?

However, these symptoms are not critical, as they coincide with those of other diseases. It can only be diagnosed by a full blood and urine test. Particular attention is paid to the concentration of urea and creatinine, as well as to the control of the wrong concentration of urine.

Treatment of renal failure in felines

If he is lucky enough to detect the specific cause of kidney failure, treatments will be applied to that specific cause. This would be the case, for example, with a kidney infection.

Unfortunately, in the majority of cats, it is not usual to find out what the trigger is, so the vet can only be guided by symptomatology.

It is common for the affected pet to need intravenous treatment at first. In this way, the effects of dehydration and problems with the electrolyte level can be alleviated.

When the animal is stabilized, all resources will be concentrated on the continuation of renal function and without complications.

The cat should be monitored and subjected to continuous checks: blood pressure, blood, and urine tests. This will help alleviate the complications that lie in wait: anemia, low potassium levels, high phosphorus levels, urinary tract infection, and high blood pressure.

Renal failure in cats and life expectancy

Unfortunately, with this disease, a cat can appear healthy. By the time symptoms appear, 75% of the kidneys may be damaged. From the age of ten, the probability of a cat suffering from kidney failure is 10%. This figure rises to 30% in cats over the age of fifteen. The life expectancy will depend a lot on the age of the feline and the causes of the disease, as well as the condition in which it was detected. It is important that from the age of eight they undergo periodic medical examinations, in order to detect abnormalities as soon as possible.

In very old animals, when the disease is detected, it is usually at a very advanced stage, so kidney failure is already spoken of in cats at the end-stage. In any case, if an accurate diagnosis is made, the consequences can be mitigated and it is possible to provide them with years of good quality of life.

In all cases, special attention must be paid to the feeding of these animals affected by the disease. A cat with kidney failure usually doesn’t want to eat. But he must be encouraged to do so.

Food is vital in these circumstances. We need to be careful about how much water you drink, as the risk of dehydration is very high. Since felines extract most of the liquid from food, it is best to give them wet food rather than dry food.

We need to be aware that this is kidney dysfunction, so your diet should be low in protein. The reason is simple: most toxins are produced by the breakdown of proteins. Thus, foods low in protein will produce fewer toxins.

However, care should be taken to reduce the amount of protein, as this could eventually cause the cat to lose a lot of weight. The best thing to do is to run away from home cooking and opt for a specific diet for cats with kidney failure. It will also be normal for the veterinarian to advise a diet low in phosphorus or the administration of elements that reduce its absorption.

Alternative Treatments for Kidney Dysfunction in Cats

In addition to the ideal diet, as we have already seen, cats with this disease are at risk of dehydration. It is advisable to administer water through different pet drinkers and even that it is enriched with flavors: chicken, fish? What it takes to get the cat to drink enough

When the risk of dehydration is too high, the cat may need an intravenous serum. This treatment will be carried out by the veterinarian, although in cats with very advanced disease the owner is allowed to undergo training to follow this treatment at home. It is usual to be aware of the presence of potassium supplementation, as the levels tend to drop considerably. The feline can be administered orally, in the form of tablets or powders which are added to the food ration.

You may also be prescribed medication to treat high blood pressure. Otherwise, high blood pressure could lead to blindness, retinal detachment, and even more damage to the kidneys themselves.

Since the cat with kidney failure usually does not want to eat, it ends up exhibiting a high rate of anemia, which in turn helps make the animal more lethargic and weak. The veterinarian’s advice may be supplementation of the diet with anabolic agents, iron, and hormones, to stimulate the production of red blood cells. Unfortunately, in a high percentage of cats with kidney failure, kidney failure is inevitable. However, it should be noted that the disease evolves according to the cat and with the right treatments, we can greatly improve the quality of life.

Remember that this article is for informational purposes only and that any prescription should always be supervised by a veterinarian, so if you detect that your cat is not doing well, we always recommend that you get in their hands as soon as possible. Remember that early detection of kidney failure in cats is vital for their well-being.



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