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How Can I Help My Cat with Kidney Disease?

22 October 2015

UK - Kidney disease is just as common in cats, as it is in humans. If you have just discovered that your cat has kidney disease, then The Mayhew’s Chief Vet Ursula Goetz, MRCVA, GPCert (SAS) is on hand to explain more about the disease, clarify how to identify it and advise how it can be managed to ensure your cat lives a happy, healthy life.

What is kidney disease?

“A cat’s kidneys are an important organ in the body that maintain blood pressure and remove waste from the animal’s blood through the urine. As a cat gets older, its kidneys naturally start to weaken and kidney disease (or renal failure as it is also known) can occur. This means the kidneys slowly stop functioning and could lead to a toxic build-up in the bloodstream.”

Is it preventable?

“Making sure your cat always has access to fresh water means they are less likely to become dehydrated. It won’t guarantee they never have kidney problems, but will reduce the chances of it occurring.”

Does it only affect older cats?

“It is more common as cats get older, but it can also occur from birth or could be caused by trauma, infection or other diseases. It can occur very suddenly or it could build up over a long period of time, so it is important that you monitor your cat’s health throughout their life and take them for regular check-ups at the vet.”

What are the causes of kidney failure?

The main causes of kidney problems are:

  • Poisons and toxins: pesticides, toxic plants such as lilies, cleaning products, antifreeze and some human medications (for example, ibuprofen), are all highly poisonous to your cat’s kidneys.

  • An accident or trauma, especially involving the abdomen, pelvis or bladder, can lead to kidney failure.

  • Rapid loss of blood or dehydration from overheating or illness can cause your cat to lose fluids in the body, leading to kidney failure.

  • Kidney infection or heart failure , resulting in reduced blood flow to the kidneys.

What are the symptoms?

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, they may have or be developing kidney disease so it is important that you take them to your vet as soon as possible:

  • Frequent urinating (more than usual)
  • Urinating in abnormal places or an aversion to using the litter tray
  • Cloudy/blood in the urine
  • Pain/discomfort around the kidneys
  • Appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Mouth ulcers and bad breath
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Stumbling or acting “drunk””

Is it treatable?

“If left untreated and the condition becomes chronic, then there is no cure. However, if it is identified early then it can be managed. Some cats may require surgery or IV fluids but for many it can be easily controlled with a special diet and medication. Your vet will advise you on the best course of treatment and a special diet, which is low in protein and phosphate and high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.”

For more information, visit The Mayhew Animal Home.

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