Feline Kidney Disease

Feline kidney disease is one of the most common health conditions in cats, particularly as they grow older. Although it can cause serious health problems, the disease is manageable. With the right treatment and care, your cat can continue to lead a good quality of life.

What Is Feline Kidney Disease?

The kidneys filter toxins and impurities from the blood and also help to regulate blood pressure and the levels of minerals in the body. As your cat's body converts food into energy, waste products like urea and creatinine are produced. These are toxic to the body, so the kidney removes them and sends them to be passed out of the system in your cat's urine.

If the kidneys stop functioning properly, the levels of these toxic substances build up. This can be very harmful to your cat. The toxins can prevent certain organs from working properly and, eventually, can cause death. The kidneys are very efficient organs. Usually it's only after 75% of your cat's kidney function has been destroyed that you will start to see symptoms.

The condition can be caused by a number of things. It may be the result of another underlying condition, a product of general wear and tear as your cat gets older or something that was genetically inherited.

There are two types of kidney failure, chronic renal failure and acute renal failure. Chronic renal failure happens over a long period of time. The kidneys deteriorate more and more until symptoms suddenly show. Acute renal failure is a sudden failure of the kidneys. This is often caused by an infection, a urinary obstruction, poisoning or injury. It is possible to treat both types of the disease but in most cases, the kidneys don't regain their full functioning capacity.

Symptoms of Feline Kidney Disease

The most common symptoms of feline kidney disease are as follows:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Symptoms of dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Signs of blood in the urine
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Excessive sneezing and coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid retention
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Although all of the above are signs of feline kidney disease, they could also be an indication of other underlying diseases. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, it's important to see a vet immediately.

Treatment for Feline Kidney Disease

Feline kidney disease can't be totally cured, as kidney damage is irreversible. However, it is possible to manage the condition so that your cat can lead a quality of life that is as normal as possible. There are many ways to manage the condition, and the methods you use will depend on your cat's exact condition.

There are special diets available for cats with kidney problems, which have reduced levels of chemicals like proteins, sodium and phosphates. Your vet might also prescribe Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which reduce the amount of protein expelled in the urine. To avoid dehydration, your cat might have a drip for a certain amount of time.

Although feline kidney disease can be debilitating, it is possible for your cat to recover and, with the right management, continue to live a happy, comfortable life.