What Is Kidney Failure In Cats
Kidney failure can be caused by a number of conditions that affect the kidneys and related organs.
Healthy kidneys eliminate waste from the blood, maintain a normal electrolyte balance, regulate hydration and calcium, manage blood pressure and stimulate production of red blood cells. If your cat experiences kidney failure, the kidneys are no longer functioning efficiently.
What Are The Causes Of Kidney Disease In Cats
In most cases, the exact cause of CKD is unknown and research is ongoing. Chronic kidney disease in cats is sometimes known to be caused by:
- Ongoing inflammation of the glomeruli
- Damage to the kidneys following a kidney infection
- Toxin damage
- Weakness due to muscle wastage, anaemia and low blood potassium
- Dehydration due to excess water loss into the urine
- Bad breath Due to toxin build-up and oral and gastric ulceration
In the latter stages of kidney disease in cats, the animal will start to feel very unwell, feeling constantly sick, dehydrated and weak. They will also be in significant pain from ulceration of the mouth and stomach lining and toxin build-up leading to headaches, blindness and eventually collapse.
In acute kidney failure, the cat will show signs in a matter of hours or days. They can include:
- Sudden anorexia
- Some cats may urinate more than usual, while others may produce no urine at all.
Cats with acute renal failure will feel very unwell in a short space of time. They often seem to be in significant pain due to swelling of the kidneys and may collapse or cry constantly.
Medication For Kidney Failure In Cats
There may also be medications that help your cat feel better and will slow the progression of kidney failure. Our vet prescribed a very cheap blood pressure medicine that we are giving our cat in conjunction with his fluids. It is a once-a-day pill that she believes may help alleviate the pressure on his kidneys and make him feel more like himself for longer.
Again, treatments are individualized based on the stage of kidney failure and your particular cat’s tolerance and needs. Working with your vet and letting them know what you want and what you are willing to do will help you build the best action plan.
Cats need extra fluids when they have kidney failure.
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Common Illness In Elderly Cats
As our cats reach their senior years, they may begin to experience illness and overall decline in their health.
While some cats simply deteriorate in health due to old age, others struggle with chronic illness.
To help you understand the possible ailments that your senior cat may experience, lets discuss some of the most common health conditions in elderly cats.
How Long Can My Cat Survive If It Has Kidney Failure
First and foremost, it is probably ambiguous as to how long your cat may actually live with kidney failure. It can be scary too because watching your cat go through all the pain when you could just put it down to relieve it can be tough.
But many times, cats with kidney failure end up surviving and living a healthy life, so it is important to have an idea of what time range you are looking at for your cat.
Now, we know that every cat is different, and a lot of factors come into play when we talk about how long kidney failure takes a cats life.
But generally, if your cat with kidney failure is old, then it may survive for around 2 months, with medications at most.
Kidney failure is very common in cats above 14 years, and their chances of survival significantly drop after that age.
However, the survival period may vary in younger cats, because their other organs are working well and work together to keep the cat alive.
Do note, that no one can affirm when your cat will pass away, vet estimates are the closest thing you can find to accuracy and even then some cats outlive these deadlines, which is a good thing.
Learning these facts will help you analyze whether your cat needs to be euthanized or not.
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Cat Has Lack Of Energy
When our cats are nearing the end of their life, they will often experience a lack of energy.
They may not be as willing to do things they once loved, and you may find them sleeping the days away.
If its becoming harder and harder to get your cat up and moving each day, you may need to discuss your cats quality of life with your veterinarian.
What Causes Acute Renal Failure
There are numerous causes of ARF. Some of the more common causes include:
- ureteral or urethral obstruction
- antifreeze poisoning
- systemic shock
- hypotension or low blood pressure
- clotting disorders
- ingestion of drugs such as NSAIAs or certain antibiotics
- insect or snake bites
- ingestion of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, or thallium
- ingestion of toxic plants, especially lilies
- ingestion of rodenticides
- feline infectious peritonitis
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Is Kidney Disease Treatable
Acute kidney failure is normally treatable, so long as it is caught early enough. If the vet can pinpoint the problem, treatment to relieve the cause can be given and then fluid treatment administered to flush out the bloodstream and the kidneys while keeping your cat hydrated.Once your cat is stable, you will be allowed to take them home to continue treatment. Normally, this involves keeping them well hydrated and well fed, giving them plenty of rest in a quiet corner of your home. Not all cats suffering from acute kidney disease will require a change in diet, however, your vets will be able to advise you on your individual cat. Unfortunately, chronic kidney failure in cats cannot be treated however it can be well managed with diet and medication to help slow its progression. In cases of chronic kidney failure, a special diet for kidney disease will most likely be recommended alongside any treatment your vet advises as your cat will now require a restricted phosphorus diet with high levels of EPA/DHA and antioxidants to help support the damaged kidneys.
What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Failure In Cats
If your cats kidneys have stopped removing waste from his or her body, you may notice your cat is drinking more water and trying to urinate more. Because toxins are accumulating in the cats body, they may feel nauseated and quit eating their food. Generally, your cat will appear lethargic and not very happy.
Typically, symptoms of kidney failure in cats may include:
- Excess thirst
If your cat is suffering from acute kidney failure you may also notice an arched back or stiff-legged gait, symptoms that your cats kidneys are causing pain.
Chronic kidney failure gradually progresses over years, and the signs may not be noticeable. By the time you do see symptoms, the disease may already be leading to total kidney failure.
While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, if its detected and treated early your cats longevity and quality of life can be improved.
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Possible Complications To Watch For
Chronic kidney failure is a progressive disease, but the speed of the decline can vary greatly between individuals. Some cats enjoy good quality of life for many months, or even years, while others have to be euthanized soon after diagnosis.
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your cats condition, particularly if you notice a worsening of:
- lethargy, depression, or other abnormal behaviors
- poor appetite
- weight loss and/or muscle wasting
- vomiting or diarrhea
- bad breath
How Long Can A Cat Live With Chronic Kidney Disease
The life expectancy of a cat with chronic kidney disease will vary with each cat. With proper management of the disease, life expectancy can range anywhere from a few months to several years.
Early diagnosis of the disease truly makes a difference when it comes to prognosis. As long as you follow your veterinarians recommendations for management, you have all the tools needed to prolong their life.
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When To Contact Your Vet
If you notice any of the symptoms above, contact your vet. The earlier kidney disease is detected, the better the chance of slowing further damage and the longer your cat is likely to live.
Kidney disease is much more common in older cats. Have your cat checked by your vet regularly especially once they are in their senior years .
You know your cat best. If they dont have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned its always best to contact your vet.
Stage : Cats Kidneys Are Now Functioning At Less Than 15%
With creatine levels above 5, stage 4 kidney disease in cats can be scary.
Treatments from stage 1 through 3 will continue.
Anemia will likely be a problem at this point, so your vet will want to treat that with medications.
Making your pet comfortable will be a top priority now.
Acute renal failure or any sudden worsening of symptoms could require extended hospitalization for your cat.
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Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats: Stages & Life Expectancy
Kidney disease in cats is an illness that nearly 30% of senior cats will face. Understanding the stages and signs of kidney disease can help to extend your cats life, and keep them comfortable for as long as possible through this stage of their life.
In this article, we discuss the essential information you need to know about CKD in cats, and what that means for your feline.
- How Long Can Cats Live with CKD?
- Signs of End of Life
- Final Thoughts
Taking A Cat Urine Sample
The best time to take a urine sample is first thing in the morning. Youll need to keep your cat indoors and, as always, provide them with a clean bowl of fresh water. Replace your normal litter with a non-absorbent litter or any other non-absorbent material, like polystyrene packing shapes.
Your cat can use their litter tray as normal and you can then collect their pee either in a sterile container provided by your vet, or a clean jam jar .
The fresher the sample, the more accurate the tests will be, so try not to delay in getting the cat urine sample to your vet.
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Why All Cat Parents Should Know About Cat Kidney Disease
Cat kidney disease, the leading cause of death in elderly cats, is a frustrating condition for pet parents and veterinarians alike. The cause of cat kidney failure has not been determined, and cat kidney disease doesnt cause cats to act sick until it is too late.
When it comes to acting healthy, cats are masters of disguise. They will look and act healthy until they are physically unable to do so because of their instinct to survive. Unlike dogs, who have been evolving alongside humans for multiple millennia, cats are not so far removed from their wild ancestors. If a cat in the wild showed that she was sick, she would be easy prey to larger predators. That instinct drives a cat to act normal even when they are sick and to hide themselves when they can no longer do so.
Kidney failure in cats is typically a slowly progressive disease. What this means is that no signs of kidney failure in cats will show other than your cat drinking lots of water and peeing more until the cat kidney disease is far advanced.
I have several feline patients that get their blood tested yearly. On their bloodwork, the BUN and creatinine, which are historically used to determine kidney function in cats, are normal, but their SDMAs are abnormal. Kidney changes was caught early in these patients because of SDMA, and would have been missed if we were just checking BUN and creatinine. Because we caught them early, we can start treatment earlier and preserve kidney function for longer.
Chronic Kidney Failure In Cats
The term “chronic kidney failure” suggests that the kidneys have quit working and are, therefore, not making urine. However, by definition, kidney failure is the inability of the kidneys to remove waste products from the blood. This definition can occasionally create confusion because some will equate kidney failure with failure to make urine. Kidney failure is NOT the inability to make urine it is the inability of the kidneys to remove toxic and waste products from the blood. Ironically, most cats in kidney failure are actually producing large quantities of urine, but the bodys wastes are not being effectively eliminated.
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Unproven Treatments For Kidney Disease In Cats
Its scary when your beloved companion is diagnosed with kidney disease.
The thought of losing your best friend may push you to investigate unproven treatments.
While nobody can blame you for exploring every available avenue, you should never treat your cat for renal failure without the supervision of your veterinary team.
With that said, some controversial and complex therapies can be discussed with your vet.
They include hemodialysis, which removes toxic waste products from the bloodstream, and kidney transplantation.
Or I came across this site that delved into the area of holistic healing using the EFT Tapping Method.
It may sound a bit woo-woo or just plain unbelievable but keep an open mind.
Not all vets are right.
Not all vets know holistic ways of healing.
Not all vets know everything.
When you feel totally helpless and your cat is suffering, you WILL try anything to make them better.
How Is Kidney Failure In Cats Diagnosed And Treated
Your vet will do a comprehensive examination of your cat, including blood and urine tests, X-Rays, and possibly an ultrasound. A kidney biopsy might also be required to diagnose kidney failure.
If kidney disease is found, treatments could include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, vitamin injections, supplements, medications, and possibly surgery to remove blockages. When treating kidney failure the goal is to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.
You can support your cats treatment with a carefully managed diet and plenty of clean fresh water. Your vet will recommend that you gradually transition your cat to a kidney diet that is low in both phosphorus and protein, and is enriched with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
For cats with end-stage kidney failure, they will require palliative care in their final days will mean keeping them warm and comfortable, with food, water and a litter box nearby, as well as lots of loving human companionship.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
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Cat Has Mental Changes
Similar to humans, cats can experience mental changes when they are nearing the end of their life.
Cats can experience dementia-like symptoms in their old age in general, and some medical conditions can make these symptoms even worse.
If your cat is no longer mentally coherent, it might be time to think about saying goodbye.
Can Kidney Disease In Cats Be Reversed
As with most of the questions posed in this article, this one has a multi-faceted answer. It really depends on a lot of factors.
Chronic kidney disease cant usually be reversed. The fact that its chronic means its been happening over a period of time or has happened repeatedly.
Each episode causes damage, which builds up over time.
Acute kidney disease, however, may be reversed if treated quickly.
Thats not to say your cats kidneys will fully recover and never cause him any further issues, but fast treatment could mitigate damages to the point that your kittys life isnt shortened.
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Types Of Kidney Failure In Cats
There are two types of kidney failure in cats. Each type differs in causes, treatment options and prognosis.
Acute Renal Failure
If your cat is suffering from acute kidney failure, it means that their kidneys are suddenly unable to function properly. This type of kidney failure occurs suddenly, within days or weeks. If diagnosed in time, acute renal failure can often be reversed.
It can happen in cats of any age and typically results from poisons, trauma, infection, organ failure, urethral blockages, dehydration and other causes. Poisons, such as toxic plants, pesticides, cleaning fluids and human medications, are the most common cause of acute renal failure.
Chronic Kidney Failure
Chronic kidney failure in cats is a gradual condition that typically develops over several months or even years. This type of kidney failure is typically caused by autoimmune diseases, cysts in the kidneys, and genetics.
Chronic kidney failure is a progressive illness that can lead to total kidney failure, where the kidneys gradually stop working as they lose the ability to filter toxins out of the blood.
Many Owners Feel Overwhelmed
When your cat is diagnosed with a serious ailment, it can be a very stressful time for both the cat and the owner. While none of us want to lose our pets, realize that while your cat will ultimately get beyond treatment, some owners have been able to prolong their pets’ lives by as much as three years. For others, it may only be a few weeks. For many owners, even a little bit of extra time is worth the effort.
Don’t forget to give them lots of extra love and comfort during this time and don’t be embarrassed about facing your own emotions of worry, fear, and grief. It is all a natural part of our bond and a part of the process of caring for an aging or ill cat.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the authors knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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