Managing Cat Calcium Imbalances with Calcitriol

Calcitriol is a type of drug that’s administered to pets suffering from calcium imbalance, most commonly associated with renal failure. Although calcium is required by cats of all ages and breeds, the amount varies. The ratio of calcium to phosphorous has to be maintained to ensure proper utilization by the body. If the balance of calcium and phosphorous isn’t maintained, the pet may be at risk of developing bone problems. The most common cause of calcium imbalance in cats is attributed to feline chronic renal failure (CRF). In order to understand how calcitriol benefits pets suffering from calcium imbalance, it’s important to understand CRF and its implications.

Feline CRF

Feline CRF may develop due to various causes. However, once CRF develops, the kidneys don’t perform their routine tasks of filtration of waste products and regulation of electrolytes such as phosphorous. If the cat suffers from kidney disorders, the body doesn’t produce sufficient calcitriol to absorb calcium and phosphorous from the food consumed. Due to low amounts of calcium present in the blood, the parathyroid gland increases the production of the parathyroid hormone to ensure normal levels of both calcium and phosphorous. However, elevated levels of parathyroid hormone increase damage to the kidneys. Once the kidney is damaged it cannot perform the task of regulating the amount of phosphorous in the body, which eventually leads to calcium imbalance. Persistently high levels of phosphorous in the blood also lead to soft tissue damage. In order to correct this, cats are administered calcitriol.

Calcitriol for Cats

Calcitriol isn’t available as a veterinary formulation. However, with accurate dosage and administration it can help pets suffering from renal failure and related calcium imbalance. It works to regulate the calcium and phosphorous level in the blood and prevents the parathyroid gland from over producing the parathyroid hormone. Pet owners should watch for signs of renal disease in cats to initiate early administration of calcitriol and avoid over production of the parathyroid hormone. If excess production already exists, the dosage of calcitriol has to be adjusted frequently to maintain normal calcium levels.

Dosage and Administration of Calcitriol

Calcitriol is available in varying potencies in both oral and injection form. The ideal dosage varies according to individual pet needs. Since the medication isn’t available as a vet formula, it should be administered according to vet instructions for the period determined by the vet. Although cats suffering from CRF benefit from calcitriol administration, it’s important to take certain precautions during administration.


  • Since calcitriol may cause certain drug interactions, it’s important to inform the vet about other prescription drugs administered to the pet.
  • Serum assay tests are necessary during administration to determine response to treatment.
  • It’s not safe for use in pets with known hypersensitivity to the drug and cats that are pregnant.
  • A few pets may suffer from adverse reactions that should be treated with prompt vet care.

Since CRF isn’t a curable condition, pet owners should work with the vet to adopt supportive measures to keep the cat comfortable. The vet will also prescribe other medication to help control the symptoms. Although kidney transplant surgeries are performed to treat kidney disorders, it has its own risks associated with the surgery. In addition, the cost of surgery and the availability of trained surgeons should be considered before choosing kidney transplant as an option.