Feline CRF Diet Recommendations

Feline CRF, or chronic renal failure, involves kidney failure, which means a cat will have trouble filtering toxins from their body. In response to this, many veterinarians recommend a diet change, but there is some debate as to what that should entail.

Low Protein Diet

There are many prescription diets available through your veterinarian that reduce your cat's intake of protein and phosphorous, in hopes of reducing the effects of CRF. However, many experts debate this approach.

It's important for your cat to receive a diet with less phosphorous and salt, but a low protein diet is counterintuitive to a cat's way of life. Many experts believe that some of the health problems our cats experience, such as diabetes, are caused by having too much fiber and not enough protein in commercial cat foods.

Cats are carnivores. All they eat is meat. Any fruits, vegetables or fiber they receive is from the gut of their prey animals. Thus, reducing the amount of protein in their diet may cause more harm than benefit. Some veterinarians report seeing improved health from a high-quality protein diet as opposed to low-protein CRF diets. Look for food with pure protein sources and little to no plant matter or fiber.

Enticing Your Cat to Eat

Many cats who die from chronic renal failure die as a direct result of starvation. If your cat doesn't like his food, he simply won't eat. Thus, many prescription diets fail because cats won't eat them.

The most important thing to remember when feeding your cat a CRF diet is that they must eat. If the diet has too much protein or phosphorous, that's not as detrimental as feeding a food that your cat won't eat at all. Finding something that your cat will eat, especially if it is a high quality food, is an important step in winning the battle.

In addition, make sure your cat drinks. Provide lots of fresh water and, if your cat won't drink, offer tuna juice or no-salt chicken broth once or twice a day to entice your cat to drink.

Homemade Diets

Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, who has done a significant amount of research on animal nutrition, recommends this homemade diet for a cat with kidney problems:

  • 1/4 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons safflower
  • 3 teaspoons calcium
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Additions of vitamin A, C, B-complex
  • Taurine or a cat vitamin complex

Feed your cat as much as he will eat, and feed it to him raw if he will eat it. It can also be cooked for about 20 minutes at a moderate heat. Wait until it cools to mix in the vitamins.

If your cat won't eat, make sure to feed the vitamins every day, either by forcing them or putting them in cat treats, such as pill pockets, cream cheese or tuna.

There are many different possibilities of homemade, raw or commercial diet, but it's important to feed your cat as high quality food as he will accept. No food is going to work if he won't eat, so work with him to find a diet that works and then consult your veterinarian about any additional supplements he may need.