Kidney disease causes irreversible damage to your feline friend's kidneys. Once your vet diagnoses your cat with kidney disease, he will develop a treatment plan for her to help slow the progression of this incurable condition. With changes to her diet, fluid therapy and medication, you can help to keep your kitty's kidneys functioning as well as they can, keeping her symptoms to a minimum and giving her a good quality of life.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Cats with kidney disease require fresh water at all times to encourage them to drink as much as possible. The water aids the kidneys to filter toxins from the bloodstream, making it easier for the damaged kidneys to do their job. Your vet may recommend giving your kitty subcutaneous fluids, a type of electrolyte solution. The sterile solution, unlike water, is absorbed into her bloodstream, diluting her blood and easing the strain on her kidneys to filter it. Your vet will tell you how much fluid to give each day and how to administer it using a needle, fluid bag and drip set. He'll also let you know how often to give your cat the fluids, based on her response to them.
Your vet may prescribe a veterinary diet for your cat to help her kidneys function better. These renal diets are lower in protein than other cat foods and contain higher quality protein, according to the Washington State University website. When your cat's body metabolizes proteins, wastes are created, which her kidneys filter. While your cat requires some protein in her diet, less of it means fewer waste products are produced, reducing the strain on her kidneys. Prescription renal diets are lower in phosphorus and sodium, which can accumulate in your cat's bloodstream. Renal foods may contain additional ingredients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can help control the acidity of your cat's blood.
Medication to Control Symptoms
Depending on your cat's blood test results and her behavior, your vet may prescribe medication to control some of the symptoms caused by kidney disease. The kidneys help regulate your kitty's blood pressure, which can become elevated if they aren't working correctly. Your vet may prescribe medications such as calcium channel blockers to lower your cat's blood pressure. Many cats with kidney disease become nauseous and fail to eat, so your vet may prescribe an appetite stimulant like cyproheptadine or an anti-nausea medication to make her feel better and encourage her to eat. Because her kidneys help to regulate her body's calcium, potassium and vitamin D levels, your vet may recommend supplementation with these substances. Your vet also might prescribe medications to treat hormone imbalances caused by your cat's compromised kidneys.
Kidney disease has no cure and will require regular monitoring with your vet. How often he will recommend coming in for an exam and for blood and urine testing will depend on your kitty's previous results and any changes in her appetite or behavior. If your cat is taking any medications when she's diagnosed with kidney disease, your vet will determine if they are safe to continue because they might stress her kidneys. Some drugs such as prednisone may help increase your feline friend's appetite and water intake, according to the Manhattan Cat Specialists. Unfortunately, this steroid can stress her kidneys, which is undesirable in the long term. A kidney transplant may help your cat, depending on the severity of her situation, which you can discuss with your vet.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Diagnosis: Kidney Disease
- Veterinary Medical Clinic: Chronic Renal Failure, Feline
- Washington State University: Chronic Kidney Disease and Failure (CKD, CRF, CRD)
- Petfinder: Treatment and Prognosis for Kidney Failure in Cats
- Waltham Focus: Management of Feline Chronic Renal Failure
- Vetstreet: Our Cat Has Kidney Disease, Will Subcutaneous Fluids Really Help His Condition?
- Washington State University: Giving Subcutaneous Fluids to a Cat
- petMD: Cyproheptadine
- Long Beach Animal Hospital: Kidney Disease (Chronic Renal Failure)
- Manhattan Cat Specialists: Weight Loss in Senior Cats
- Photo Credit monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images
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