Kidney Failure in Cats – How to Provide the Best Care Possible

Chronic renal failure (CRF) is a common cause of illness in older norwegian forest cats for sale. Unlike some other organs such as the liver, damage to the kidneys cannot be repaired. Signs of renal disease are usually seen once at least 70-75% of the renal tissue has been irreversibly damaged and, once established, CRF is generally a naturally progressive condition. The rate of progression of disease can vary hugely from cat to cat. There is no cure for CRF and in people with this condition, dialysis treatment followed by renal transplantation are the main options.

Neither of these treatments are currently available in the UK, although it is possible to improve the quality of life of affected cats by employing a variety of medical treatments tailored according to the individual’s needs. In recent years many treatment advances have been made and there are now more options available to owners wishing to care for their cats with CRF. Before discussing these treatments in detail, it is important to consider what normal kidney function is and therefore the range of problems that cats with CRF may have.

CRF cats often show non-specific signs of ill health such as a variable or poor appetite, weight loss, depression and sickness. An increased thirst is seen in about one third of cats with CRF although this clinical sign can also be seen with various other conditions common in middle aged and elderly cats such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus (‘sugar diabetes’). Diagnosis of CRF therefore requires collection of blood and urine samples for analysis. Most commonly a diagnosis is made following identification of azotaemia (accumulation of the protein breakdown products creatinine and urea in the blood) and loss of urine concentrating ability (i.e. the urine is more dilute than it should be). Further tests may be required in some cats to identify the cause of the renal disease. For example ultrasound examination of the kidneys is usually a straightforward technique for identification of polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

What is the ideal diet for cats with kidney problems?
It is common to prescribe specific dietary therapy since this has been shown to improve the quality of life and survival of cats with CRF and may reduce the rate of progression of disease. Renal diets typically have restricted levels of high quality protein which limits the amount of protein breakdown waste products for the ailing kidneys to excrete. Levels of phosphate are also restricted since cats with CRF have a tendency to retain excess amounts of this in the body which can contribute to their feeling unwell. Renal diets have increased amounts of potassium and B vitamins which CRF cats are vulnerable to losing in their urine and increased numbers of calories which helps CRF cats with a poor appetite to maintain a normal body weight. Renal diets usually have lower levels of sodium in them which may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure developing.

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