KIDNEY FAILURE IN CATS

We have diagnosed your cat with kidney failure

It is very upsetting when a pet has been diagnosed with a serious health condition such as kidney failure, especially when a cure is not available. However, there are several ways we can help improve not only you cat’s quality of life but help them live longer with this condition.

What causes kidney failure?

Chronic kidney failure refers to a condition whereby the kidneys are no longer able to function efficiently and occurs when approximately two thirds of the kidney tissue has been damaged.

The disease is most commonly seen in older cats and the gradual loss in functioning kidney tissue can often be attributable to the normal ageing process. In these cases, the progression of the kidney failure tends to occur over several months to years. There are also some more specific causes of kidney damage such as infections, cancers and various inherited disorders which can potentially lead to kidney failure.

What are the symptoms of kidneys failure?

One of the main functions of the kidney is to filter out toxins from the blood and remove them from the body in the form of urine. Being originally desert animals, cats have evolved to preserve body water by producing small amounts of very concentrated urine and so one of the early signs of kidney failure is that cats start to produce larger volumes of more watery urine. In order to avoid getting dehydrated, affected cats will be seen to drink much more water than normal.

As kidney failure progresses, the toxins which the kidney would normally remove from the body start to accumulate in the blood stream leading to symptoms such as appetite loss, nausea, lethargy, weight loss, mouth ulcers, halitosis (bad breath), vomiting and diarrhoea.

How is kidney failure managed?

Once kidney tissue is damaged the body is unable to regenerate it and so treatment is aimed at helping your cat cope with its remaining kidney function and ideally minimise further damage.

Diets: Special renal diets are recommended to reduce the workload on the failing kidneys. These have been shown to be very important in improving life expectancy with this condition.

Water: It is also important to make sure your cat drinks plenty of water since they have a much higher risk of becoming dehydrated. This can be achieved for example by having more water bowls around the house, using drinking fountains, flavouring the water or mixing small amounts of water into the food.

Medicine: We have prescribed medications such as Benzacare, Fortekor or Semintra. These improve kidney function in cats with kidney failure and slow further progression of the disease. They have also been shown to improve appetite and quality of life.

Monitoring your cat at home

It is important that you monitor your cat closely especially how much food and water they are consuming since changes in this can be a sign of the condition worsening. Other signs such as vomiting, lethargy or pungent odour from the mouth should prompt further veterinary attention.

Nurse/ vet check

We would advise regular monitoring of your cats blood pressure, urine samples and weight with one of our vets or in our nurse clinics. This will allow us to check the progression of the kidney disease and address any additional issues.