Managing Feline Renal Failure with a Low Protein Diet

The management of feline renal failure can be accomplished in a number of ways. One of the most important ways to comfort and assist your cat in maintaining a good quality of life is by introducing a low protein diet. A diet low in proteins helps to reduce the amount of work necessary for the body by limiting the amount of waste materials sent through the kidneys. A low protein diet may potentially slow the progression of feline renal failure.

The Importance of Protein for Cats

While high protein content may contribute to excessive toxins in the kidneys, protein has important benefits for cats. Due to their unique physiological makeup, cats require certain levels of protein to maintain a healthy energy balance. Unlike other species, cats cannot convert carbohydrates into a healthy source of energy. Switching your feline renal failure patient to a low protein diet must be done with care and consideration. While low protein does limit the amount of chemicals and waste, too little protein will significantly, and rapidly diminish overall health.


There are common misconceptions associated with protein. There are, of course, healthy proteins and unhealthy proteins. Proteins that come from organ and muscle meat are healthy, as they contain all of the essential amino acids. Proteins that come from grains are incomplete and cannot provide all the necessary elements of a healthy protein. There are high-quality, low protein diets on the market made especially for cats in feline renal failure. Be sure you are feeding your cat at least 20 to 25% protein that is derived from a healthy source.

Introducing the Low Protein Diet

Many cats are finicky, especially when it comes to eating. Most low protein diets are less palatable, and your cat may refuse to eat. In order to maintain overall health of your feline, it is very important to make sure the cat's intake of food and water is sufficient. There are many different ways to encourage your cat to change eating habits.

Gradual Introduction of New Food

Introduce low protein diets gradually. Begin by mixing your cat's normal diet with the new food. Slowing increase serving portions of the new diet, while decreasing the amount of old, familiar food. This gradual switch may ease your cat slowly toward better eating habits.

Attempt Different Varieties

Many varieties of low protein foods are available on the market. If your cat refuses to eat one particular brand or flavor, attempt other selections until you find one your cat enjoys.

Other Possibilities for Finicky Eaters

Your cat may have a preference of wet, canned food over dry, or vice-versa. Mix flavors, warm meals in the microwave, or add water, tuna juice or chicken broth. Be sure to select additives with little or no salt, and avoid ingredients containing onions.

Refusal to Eat

Cats experiencing feline renal failure need to stay as healthy as possible. If your cat refuses to eat a low protein diet, return to your cat's normal food for a period of time. Lack of eating contributes to rapid weight loss, which can be significantly more detrimental when feline renal failure is already present.