Feline kidney disease is extremely common in older cats but can develop in younger cats.
Cats that develop this disease do not begin to show symptoms until they have lost approximately 65-70% of the nephrons in their kidneys. Nephrons are funnel-shaped tubes that filter and reabsorb the fluids inside the kidneys. Feline kidney failure will result if more than 75% of the nephrons are lost. Here's how to identify symptoms and get treatment for this disorder.
What are the common symptoms of feline kidney disease?
The most common cat kidney disease symptoms are:
- Increased thirst.
- Changes in bladder habits (increased urination, urinating in strange places, straining when urinating, and/or blood in the urine).
- Gagging and/or vomiting (both clear/foamy liquid and food).
Other symptoms of this cat illness include:
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Depression and lethargy.
- Bad breath (smells like ammonia).
- Oral ulcers.
- Tender-to-the touch abdomen.
- Dull or ill-kept coat.
How is feline kidney disease diagnosed?
Using blood and urine tests to get an accurate cat illness diagnosis is essential as symptoms of kidney disease are similar to several other ailments in cats. This is why if you have a sick cat, you should take her to the vet so the doctor can diagnose any cat health problems. Blood will be analyzed to determine the level of several critical components such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine. A red blood cell count will also be done. Urine will be tested for bacteria and blood as well as testing its level of protein and its concentration.
How is feline kidney disease treated?
- Diet: When your cat is experiencing feline kidney problems, your veterinarian may prescribe a diet low in protein, sodium, and phosphorus. He may also prescribe potassium and B vitamin supplements to make up for what you cat has lost. It is also important that you cat have plenty of fresh water.
- Appetite stimulants: Most cats with kidney disease have poor appetites. Human baby food meat, tuna juice, juice from packets of premium cat foods, or other similar enticements can be added to help the taste of the prescribed food and stimulate the cat's appetite. In extreme cases, force-feeding may be required. However, this should only be done by a veterinarian.
- Subcutaneous Fluids: This is done my administering fluids through a needled inserted under the cat's skin. Severely dehydrated cats may need to be hospitalized for this treatment. However, it is possible to learn how to administer fluids at home.
- Medication: Medication for related problems, such as hypertension or anemia, may be prescribed. Epogen shots may be given as well as oral medication to help clean the blood of toxins released by the kidneys.
- Hemodialysis: Better known as dialysis, hemodialysis is expensive. Equipment for this procedure is usually only found in larger clinics or at teaching colleges with the facilities.
- Kidney transplant: A kidney transplant will cost several thousand dollars and is not usually an option for older cats. Shelter cats who are about to be euthanized are usually chosen as the donors with the condition that the donor cat is then adopted.
What is the prognosis for cats with kidney disease?
Prognosis for cats depends on the amount of damage done to the kidneys. With fluid treatments, proper diet, and medications, a cat might live for several months or even a couple years.
Regardless of whether or not your kitty is sick, remember to always provide the proper cat health care to your special pet. The more attention you give her, the sooner you'll notice when something is wrong and hopefully the faster it can be treated.
- Feline Chronic Renal Failure Information Center