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How To Tell If Cat Has Kidney Disease

What Is Chronic Renal Failure

What Are The Symptoms Of A Cat Dying Of Kidney Failure?

Chronic renal failure is a condition where over time, the function of the kidneys deteriorates. This results in the bodys inability to remove waste matter and purify the blood. The signs that your cat is experiencing kidney problems will likely only become obvious when the disease has already progressed. Being aware that this is a common disease will assist you in spotting the symptoms earlier.

Can A Kitten Be Born With Kidney Disease

Kittens can be born with kidney diseases. Trauma, toxins, and infection are also causes. There are two types of kidney failure in cats. Each has different causes, treatments, and outlooks. Acute renal failure develops suddenly, over a matter of days or weeks. It happens in cats of all ages and is usually the result of:

Weight Loss And Appetite Loss

Cats who are dealing with kidney disease or kidney failure will likely not feel like eating very much. They may be completely uninterested in food or may only want to eat specific types of food. At the same time, they may lose weight.

These symptoms are not specific. A wide variety of cat health problems can cause weight loss and decreased appetite. If these are the only symptoms you notice, kidney disease could be the culprit, but so could any number of other diseases. Your veterinarian will need to run some tests to know for sure.

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Recovery And Management Of Kidney Disease In Cats

Cats diagnosed early on with kidney disease will benefit from nutritional management and more frequent veterinary attention which may include more frequent checkups and blood work.

Cats in stages I and II may often be monitored for further progression of signs, and some may be given a prescription diet specifically geared to help the kidneys by limiting the amount of work they have to do. Many cats can go on to have a decent quality of life for many months or years, depending on the specific diagnosis.

Cats in stages III and IV often require more medical and dietary assistance:

  • If secondary anemia is present, erythropoietin injections can be given at the direction of your veterinarian.

  • Dietary supplements may be prescribed to help with low potassium.

  • Phosphorus binders may be prescribed to treat high phosphorus levels.

  • Anti-nausea and anti-emetic medications can be given to cats with a poor appetite, vomiting, or nausea.

  • Fluids given either intravenously or underneath the skin can help with dehydration, and your veterinarian can show you how to administer these fluids at home.

Because of the severity of signs often seen in cats in stages III and IV and the amount of care and effort required to support these cats, some may be humanely euthanized.

How Kidney Failure In Cats Is Diagnosed & Treated

Signs Of Kidney Or Liver Disease In Cats

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.

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.

Palliative care is required for cats with end stage kidney failure. In their final days this 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor’s advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.

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What Is Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is most common among senior cats 10 years and older. It most often develops over time, with cats showing signs of gradual decline. Accidental poisoning can also cause acute kidney failure in cats of all ages, requiring immediate emergency care.

The kidneys help maintain fluid balance, produce key hormones, regulate electrolytes and blood pressure. And, of course, they excrete bodily wastes in urine. In CKD, all of these important functions are disrupted, leaving wastes to build up in the body.

CKD is not a curable or reversible disease, however, with early detection, support and treatment can improve your cats quality and length of life by slowing progression of the disease. In fact, cats can live for many years with consistent management.

Treatment For Feline Kidney Disease

Cats in early stages of kidney disease usually do not show signs of the disease. Typically, signs do not appear until 75 percent of kidney function has been lost. With early diagnosis, acute renal failure can be detected and managed. However, chronic renal failure is an incurable condition that mainly affects older cats and is treated with palliative care. Depending on the condition, your vet may recommend fluid therapy, food modification, blood pressure drugs, dialysis or a transplant.

Because symptoms may not be apparent until your cats kidney functions have been lost, it is important to make sure your cat gets her regular check-up at the vet. This could be the difference in catching it early and catching it too late. Also, it is helpful to document unusual tendencies you notice in your cat from the onset such as the ones listed above this can be very helpful in helping your vet to determine if your cats kidneys need to be further examined. Its recommended that all cats 7 years and older get a senior screening at their annual check-up in order to determine if your cat has kidney issues.

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Symptoms Of Kidney Disease In Cats

Clinical signs are often related to the severity of the kidney disease and underlying cause. Most cats will exhibit symptoms including:

  • Increased thirst and urination

  • Urinary accidents, incontinence, or inability to urinate

  • Lower back pain

Some cats may show muscle-wasting and signs attributed to high blood pressure, such as vision loss and weakness.

Not Eating Or Drinking

I Adopted Fergie, a Kitten with Kidney Disease

If your cat is suffering from kidney failure and reaches a point where they refuse to eat or drink, you should be concerned. Failure to eat or drink will lead to lethargy, dehydration, and weight loss.

You can seek veterinary assistance for medications to help boost your cats appetite. Your veterinarian will recommend medications to combat nausea and appetite stimulants to encourage your cat to eat. Be careful not to force your cat to drink more water than it can as this can cause aspiration pneumonia.

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Plan For The Inevitable

Time might come when euthanizing your cat will be the only option left. If such a moment comes, talk to your veterinarian and compare the options available to you, including home euthanasia.

Final thoughts

Saying goodbye to your lovely pet is never easy. However, you should try to make her final days as peaceful and stress-free as possible. We hope the signs a cat is dying of kidney failure that we have highlighted above will help you know when your pets condition is getting worse.

Diagnosing Kidney Disease In Cats

The primary indicator of kidney disease in cats is dilute urine. The vet needs to take some blood and urine tests including a chemical blood profile and a complete blood picture. Cats with kidney disease may have abnormal electrolyte levels, anemia, elevated blood pressure, and abnormally high levels of blood creatinine and blood urea nitrogen .

Other tests may include X-rays and ultrasounds to check the size and shape of the kidneys. The severity of kidney disease can be estimated based on blood waste product elevations. It is also measured by abnormalities in urine like the presence of protein in the urine. Sometimes, a kidney biopsy is required to identify the cause of kidney disease in cats.

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What Treatments Are Available

The treatment of CRF depends on the results of blood tests, and specific treatments are aimed at resolving specific abnormalities. The majority of cats are effectively managed with diet change including supplementation and one or two other treatments. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best treatment for your cat.

“Different treatments are available and the majority of cats are effectively managed with diet change including supplementation and one or two other treatments.”

  • Special diets – feeding low protein and low phosphorus diets help lower the level of waste products in the bloodstream. These can be prepared at home or are available ready prepared from your veterinary practice.
  • Phosphate binders – despite low phosphate in the diet, blood phosphorus levels remain above normal in some cats. Reducing blood phosphorus can have a major effect on improving your cat’s well being and slowing disease progression. Oral phosphate binders such as aluminum hydroxide help to lower the amount of phosphorus absorbed through the gut wall.
  • Antibiotics – many cats seem to respond well to antibiotics though the reason for this is not always clear. Cats with CRF develop bladder infections more frequently and routine urine cultures are recommended for many patients.
  • Vitamins B and C – when the failing kidneys are unable to concentrate the urine, these water-soluble vitamins are lost and affected cats need daily supplementation.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Cat Dying Of Kidney Failure

Kidney Renal Disease In Cats

Some of the symptoms of a cat dying of kidney failure include excessive thirst and increased urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, depression, and drooling. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms may also be present with other medical conditions, and your cat may not show all of the symptoms of kidney failure in cats.

If you spot any of these symptoms of kidney failure in cats, you should take your cat to the vet right away for a diagnostic blood test. The earlier you detect kidney failure in cats, the easier it is to treat. Early detection is especially important if your cat has ingested a toxin or medication.

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End Stage Of Kidney Disease

At the end of your pet’s bout with kidney disease, he’ll likely have lost a great deal of his kidney function. His body will no longer be able to adequately process the toxins that it typically would have been able to. Unfortunately, the prognosis at the end stage of kidney function is very poor it is typically only a matter of stabilizing yourcat’s system to allow him to die in a peaceful and comfortable manner.

End stage kidney disease is represented with a few distinctive symptoms. In addition to the various other symptoms that will accompany decreased kidney function throughout the earlier stages of the disease , watch out for these end stage kidney disease symptoms:

Types Of Kidney Disease In Cats

In cats, there are two types of kidney disease. Acute kidney disease comes on suddenly and is a short-term disease that is reversible in some cases. Chronic kidney disease is a long-term illness that gets worse over time. CKD is sometimes called kidney insufficiency or renal insufficiency.

Acute kidney disease, sometimes called acute kidney injury, is fairly uncommon in cats. CKD, however, is more prevalentespecially in older cats. One study found the prevalence of CKD to jump from 13 percent in cats under 4 years old to 32 percent in cats 15 and older.

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Dietary Treatment For Kidney Disease

In the early stages, CKD can often be successfully managed with a specialised kidney diet. These diets are balanced to help support the reduced kidney function. They have restricted nutrient levels of protein, as protein breakdown products have to be excreted via the kidneys and can cause further damage. They are often also lower in phosphate, which the kidneys can no longer excrete efficiently, and higher in potassium, which the kidneys can no longer retain.

Low Heart Rate And Respiration

Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Likewise, your cats heart rate and respiration may slow as its body begins to shut down. The resting heart rate for a healthy cat ranges from about 150 to 200 beats per minute, and a healthy cat takes about 20 to 30 breaths per minute. If you check your lethargic cats heart rate and find it sluggish, and if you notice your cat taking fewer breaths than usual, these are likely warning signs.

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How To Treat Your Cat’s Kidney Disease

Most cats with chronic kidney failure can be treated with either dietary changes or medications. This includes feeding them a diet that is high in protein and low in phosphorus and sodium, which can be supplied through commercial cat food. They will also be given supplements to make up for the nutrients they are not getting from their diet.

Even if your pet has been diagnosed with kidney disease, he can live for many years if he is given the right treatment and care. This all starts with a visit to your vert.

When Is The Right Time To Euthanise A Pet

None of us have a crystal ball, and our cats cant tell us when theyve had enough. We have to make the best decision we can, but with the added complication of wanting to fight for our cats, clinging to hope and not wanting to let go. Reaching the decision to euthanise is a complex and difficult decision.

Dr. Mary Gardener, founder of Lap of Love, an in-home pet euthanasia practice, identifies four types of budget that families should consider.

  • Financial budget: End-of-life veterinary care often be expensive and put a strain on the household budget.
  • Time budget: A terminal pet often requires intensive home care, which can take up a considerable amount of time. If you work full-time out of the house or travel a lot, this can impact your ability to provide optimal care.
  • Physical budget: Are you physically able to care for a terminal cat? Are you capable of lifting him or her out of the litter tray if they are unable to walk, managing accidents, taking the cat for vet check-ups?
  • Emotional budget: Caring for a terminal cat carries a huge emotional toll. For me, caring for my beloved cat for over 6 months during her cancer treatment was emotionally hard. Some of our pets are a link or a bridge to the past. They might represent our childhood, a marriage, a difficult period in our lives, or a family member who is no longer with usall of which can make it even harder to let go.

Questions to consider when deciding when to euthanise your cat

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Caring For Cats With Chronic Kidney Disease

Of all the major diseases afflicting cats, chronic kidney disease is one of the stealthiest. It usually creeps up on cats as they get older, but it can also show up more dramatically and have devastating effects. When your cats kidneys arent able to do their job as usual, it can lead to renal failure and death.

Choosing Euthanasia For A Dying Cat

How to Treat and Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

If your cat is exhibiting signs of being near death, you may want to consider talking to your vet about euthanasia. This can be the more humane choice in cases where there is significant pain and suffering involved.

If you choose to put your pet to sleep, your vet will give him an injection that will slow his heart to a stop. This takes only seconds and is not a painful procedure. You will usually be given the opportunity to stay with your cat throughout the process if you wish. Euthanasia can put an end to a pets suffering as well as shorten the emotional distress you feel. Some areas may even offer a house-call euthanasia service.

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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.

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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Bad Breath And Body Odor

Most cats with chronic kidney disease have bad breath that smells like ammonia. This gets worse as the condition advances. While its possible to treat bad breath, it will only get worse and worse as toxin levels in the cats body increase.

If your cat is not suffering from kidney disease then bad breath can be a sign of dental problems, dehydration, or other health complications.

The accumulation of waste and toxins in the body eventually leads to body odor. It is, however, good to keep in mind that body odor can also be caused by dehydration or diabetic ketoacidosis. Make sure to seek veterinary assistance to be absolutely sure.


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