Feline Kidney Disease Diet Recommendations

Feline kidney disease causes toxins to build up in a cat's body, leading to many other health complications. Though a diet change will not cure the problem, it can help a cat process certain nutrients and reduce toxins to improve overall health.

Symptoms of Feline Kidney Disease

The kidney functions to remove toxins from the body and filter out nutrients so the body can reclaim them. When the kidney stops functioning, toxins begin to build up in the body, and many nutrients are excreted rather than processed.

Symptoms of kidney disease include weight loss and loss of appetite, excessive thirst and urination, difficulty urinating, vomiting and dull coat.

Dietary Changes

The trend has always been to prescribe a diet low in protein, sodium and phosphorus for a cat with kidney disease. However, recent research has shown that since cats rely solely on protein for their nutrition, reducing protein can be more harmful than helpful.

Phosphorus, which is found in high levels in meat, is the harmful element, but it's hard to meet a cat's complete nutritional needs without protein. Thus, some people choose to continue feeding protein and others decide to reduce it. Both can be beneficial.

The most important thing to remember is that your cat must eat. If your cat won't eat a low protein diet, feed something else. Your cat will starve himself if he doesn't like the food. Feed him whatever he will eat. Allow him to eat as much as he wants when hungry.

Even though high in phosphorus, wet foods are preferable to dry foods because a cat with a kidney disease will have a very hard time maintaining an appropriate fluid levels. Cats are also more likely to eat wet foods. You can also add tuna or clam juice to increase fluids and entice your cat to eat.

Since your cat is also excreting essential nutrients, it's important to supplement taurine and antioxidants such as vitamins E and C.

Adding water or heating food may also entice your pet to eat. If he won't eat, force-feed vitamins separately. Encourage your cat to drink by keeping water fresh at all times. Add meat or fish broth once or twice a day to entice drinking.

Homecooked Diet

Many veterinarians are now recommending raw or homecooked diets for kidney disease because there are no unhealthy preservatives. Cats generally don't make a problem out of eating them, and the diets don't cause any damage to the system.

Before switching to a homecooked diet, do research on all the necessary nutrients. Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, recommends this homecooked diet for cats with kidney disease: Mix 3/4 pound ground turkey or chicken, 4 cups cooked rice, 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons cold-pressed safflower, soy or corn oil, 3 teaspoons animal essentials calcium, 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt, 1 teaspoon parsley, 5,000 IU vitamin A, 2,000 milligrams vitamin C, 250 milligrams taurine and 10 milligrams of 500-milligram level B-complex. Serve raw or cook 20 minutes in oven and mix in vitamins once cooled. Occasionally, substitute 1 to 3 teaspoons of liver for part of the meat.

Though there is no cure for kidney disease, an improved diet can help slow the progression of the disease.