Kidney problems in cats
Cat's kidneys play several important roles in keeping your pet healthy including removing toxins, maintaining their blood pressure and helping to produce hormones for new red blood cells. With so much to do, it’s perhaps not surprising that as cats get older, it’s quite common for their kidneys to wear out after working so hard.
Signs of kidney disease in cats
As your cat's kidneys become less able to concentrate their urine, they will urinate more and drink more to replace the lost fluids.
Poor appetite and lethargy
Because the toxins that would normally pass in their pee build up in cats with kidney disease, they may feel nauseous and vomit, retch or go off their food. This can also makes them seem tired and generally not very happy, and you might notice bad breath.
Do be careful before you diagnose kidney disease, as these same symptoms could also be connected to other illnesses, so see your vet for a proper diagnosis and for advice on treatment of kidney disease.
Cat kidney disease diagnosis by your vet
As part of their investigation to see if your cat has kidney disease, your vet may want to test a sample of your cats pee - this will show if your cat’s urine is being concentrated, whether protein is being lost in the urine and whether there are any other problems such as underlying infections to take into account. They may also take a blood test to gain a full health profile of your cat and to see if the toxin build up has had any effect on other organs.
Treatment of kidney failure in cats
Depending on how severe your cat’s symptoms are, treatment for cats with kidney disease is usually a mix of medical and dietary interventions.
Cat kidney medication
There unfortunately is no medication that can cure kidney disease. However your vet may be able to prescribe medication to help with associated conditions that cats with kidney failure may develop, such as high blood pressure and anaemia.
Kidney diet for cats
A special diet can reduce signs of kidney failure and slow the progression of the disease. Your vet may suggest a carefully tailored prescription diet that has been formulated to meet your cat’s specific needs. The protein in cat food for kidney disease is highly digestible, so there’s not much waste for the kidneys to flush it out. It also has reduced phosphorous and essential fatty acids that work as natural anti-inflammatories to support your cat’s kidneys.
One of the downsides of a prescription diet is that they’re made to very strict recipes so aren’t as tasty as your cat’s usual food. Even if your cat turns their nose up at first, which is quite likely given their sense of taste is 200,000 times more sensitive than yours, it’s important to persevere for your cat’s sake – they will come around in the end.
When feeding cats with kidney disease, introduce their new diet very gradually so they can slowly adapt to the blander flavours and different textures. Unless your vet says otherwise, blend the new diet thoroughly into your cat’s original diet. Then increase the quantity of the new diet by very small amounts every day while, at the same time, reducing the amount of their original diet. You might find that the quantities differ from your old food to the new cat food, so check the packaging or ask your vet’s advice about portion sizes.
While your cat’s getting used to their new regime they may prefer smaller meals more regularly rather than one or two larger meals. You’ll need to avoid giving them treats when they’re on their special cat diet, so more regular feeding might help.
You can also try to make their new cat diet more palatable by warming wet food in a microwave (never hot) to release aromas and soften its texture. If your cat's new diet is dry and they’re used to wet food, try soaking it briefly in warm water to soften it slightly.
The changeover process can take anything from two to six weeks to complete, but it’s worth all the effort to keep your cat as fit and healthy as possible. Both you and your cat should then be able to enjoy a healthy and happy life together without any worries.
If you’d like more information on cat kidney problems or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM.