Treating Feline Renal Failure With Dialysis

Feline renal failure can be fatal, if not treated properly. By undergoing regular treatment early on, you can increase your cat's lifespan by years.

Renal Failure Caused by Kidney Disease

Feline kidney disease or cancer can cause renal failure in your cat. Because symptoms of kidney disease only present themselves when your cat's kidney function has decreased below 30%, it's important to take immediate action.

Because your cat's kidneys aren't efficiently filtering waste products, like urea, a byproduct of protein digestion, toxins enter the bloodstream. These waste products will accumulate in your cat's bloodstream, which causes illness. If too much urea enters the bloodstream, your cat will experience uremia, which is poisoning of the blood.

Dialysis Replaces Function of Failed Kidney

Dialysis filters toxins from the bloods to replace the function of the kidney. Dialysis is an expensive treatment, yet one that is a common enough practice in humans. There are few animal hospitals that offer the service for the treatment of cats.

However, if you are near an animal hospital that offers dialysis, you should consider the treatment for a cat in the early stages of renal failure. The Northeast offers a number of hospitals that offer the treatment, like the Animal Medical Center in New York, and the University of California at Davis provides pet dialysis as well.

Cat dialysis is a weekly commitment, where your feline will undergo treatment for a few hours. In combination with a low protein diet and proper hydration, dialysis can increase your cat's life by years.

Hemodialysis to Filter Blood of Cat with Renal Failure

Hemodialysis filters your cat's blood. The treatment is usually available only to cats in the acute stage of renal failure, while there the kidneys still have some degree of functionality. For chronic renal failure, hemodialysis will only be performed before a kidney transplant.

Your vet will insert a catheter into the external jugular vein, which will then pass blood into the hemodialyzer. The hemodialyzer is known as an artificial kidney because it performs the same function that a working kidney would perform. The hemodialyzer filters the blood, and reenters your cat's body through a second compartment in the catheter.

During a treatment, your cat's blood will be filtered several times. You will use the same catheter for each session, and your vet will check the catheter and evaluate the health of the cat before and after each treatment.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is a dialysis option that uses the stomach rather than the blood. Your vet will use a tube to fill your cat's stomach with dialysis fluid. The waste products in the food in the stomach enter the liquid. Your vet will then flush the cavity and discard the liquid, repeating until the waste products are diminished.

Peritoneal dialysis is a great tool for reversible renal failure in the early stages. The process isn't painful and is easy to do. However, the constant need for veterinary assistance makes peritoneal dialysis difficult to find.