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What Are The Signs Of Kidney Disease In Cats

What Is Chronic Renal Failure

Hillâs HOW-TOs: Signs of Kidney Failure in Cats

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.

What Are The Causes Of Crf

CRF is the end stage of a number of different disease processes rather than a specific disease in its own right. Diseases or conditions that can eventually lead to CRF include:

1. Congenital malformations of the kidneys – such as polycystic kidney disease in long haired cats

2. Pyelonephritis – bacterial kidney infections

3. Glomerulonephritis – inflammation and damage to the kidney’s filtration membrane

4. Neoplasia – various tumors of the kidney, most commonly lymphosarcoma

5. Amyloidosis – this is the build-up of an unusual protein in the kidney that prevents the kidney from functioning normally

6. Viral infections such as feline leukemia virus or feline infectious peritonitis virus

7. Kidney stones or ureteral stones

Stages Of Feline Kidney Failure

Veterinarians often use a staging system created by the International Renal Interest Society to categorize the severity of chronic kidney disease in cats. Each stage corresponds to the severity of kidney damage, with stage one being the mildest and stage four the most advanced.

Your vet will evaluate blood test results to determine the stage of your cat’s kidney disease. Staging information helps your vet give you a prognosis and advise the best treatments for your kitty.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Kidney Disease In Cats

Most of the changes are associated with weight loss, poor hair quality, halitosis , and variable appetite, which can lead to ulcers in the mouth, lethargy, and depression. When these symptoms are present, drinking or urinating, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia are frequently present.

Cats have two kidneys on each side of their abdomen. The kidneys in the body are in charge of regulating the bodys fluid, mineral, and electrolyte balance. Kidney disease in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, and cats have various forms of kidney disease. Acute and chronic conditions are frequently combined to form one. Blood tests and urinalysis are frequently used to diagnose kidney disease. In addition, it could be the result of underlying immune-mediated diseases, stroke-like events, clotting disorders, or even cancer. Despite best tests, there is no clear explanation of what is causing the condition.

Depending on the underlying cause and stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the life expectancy of a cat with kidney disease varies. It is possible for cats who have reached the early stages to live a normal life if the underlying disease is successfully treated. Quality of life can be maintained only if the patient is diagnosed and treated early.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Cat With Kidney Disease

Obtain What Are Signs Of Kidney Failure In Cats You Should Know ...

I know that this is the biggest question on the minds of any pet parent facing renal failure with their cats.

As much as I wish I could give you an answer, there simply isnt one set in stone.

Life expectancy for cats with kidney disease can be as short as a month or extend out for many years. There are far too many factors for each individual cat to give a direct answer to everyone.

For acute renal failure, life expectancy is heavily influenced by the original cause of the renal failure and any complications since.

If it was due to traumatic injury, and you responded immediately, your cats life expectancy will be greater than if he had received no treatment at all.

At the same time, certain injuries just cant be treated.

Cats suffering chronic renal failure tend to have a higher life expectancy than those suffering from acute renal failure.

This is especially true if the disease is caught early and intervention begins immediately.

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How Do You Diagnose Polycystic Kidney Disease In Cats

If you are worried your cat might have polycystic kidney disease, the first step is to take them to your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination, including feeling the size and shape of your cats kidneys to check for abnormalities. They will also take a thorough history, including asking about your cats drinking, appetite, and urination.

The next step is usually comprehensive blood tests to assess your cats kidney function, in particular, urea and creatinine levels. Blood tests will also check for secondary effects of kidney disease, such as anemia. Your vet will also need to look at a sample of your cats urine to check for bacteria, protein, and white blood cells, and to assess if the urine is well concentrated.

However, to identify PKD as the cause of a kidney problem, your veterinarian will need to perform imaging. This is most commonly an ultrasound scan of your cats kidneys to look for the characteristic renal cysts found in PKD.

What Causes Kidney Failure In Cats

The filtering system in your cats kidneys consists of thousands of microscopic tubes . While a kidney will still work if some nephrons are damaged, if too many nephrons stop working too suddenly for the good nephrons to compensate, the kidneys can fail.

The most immediate symptom of kidney failure is that they stop clearing the blood of dangerous toxins. Though cats kidneys may start to fail with age, they arent the only ones at risk .

Here are some common causes of both acute and chronic kidney failure in cats:

  • Acute Kidney Failure
  • Ingestion of toxins or harmful substances
  • Bacterial infection
  • Illnesses such as cancer
  • Specific medications

Chronic Kidney Failure

  • Autoimmune diseases

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Kidney Disease In Cats Faqs

What is the life expectancy of a cat with kidney disease?

The life expectancy of a cat with kidney disease varies depending on the underlying cause and the stage at which it is diagnosed. Cats in the earlier stages can, if the underlying disease is treated appropriately, live a normal life.

Are cats in pain with kidney disease?

For most conditions listed above, I wouldnt classify kidney disease in of itself as painful. The systemic effects and long-term implications, however, can certainly be debilitating and often lead to painful conditions.

Can a cat recover from kidney disease?

Some cats that experience acute kidney insults can recover, although there may be long-term effects that can lead to chronic kidney failure. Cats in chronic kidney failure will not recover, in the sense that they will have no lingering effects of the disease, as it is not curable. However, cats can go on to live a relatively normal life, with some lifestyle changes and long-term management.

Signs Your Cats Kidneys May Be Failing

Stages Of Kidney Disease In Catsð?±Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Cats
  • Frequent urinating. While you might think this is a sign your catâs kidneys are working well, it actually means they are no longer able to hold water. Urinating outside their litter box is another signal.
  • Drinking a lot of water this means your cat is trying to replace the fluid they have lost through urinating.
  • Bacterial infections of the bladder and kidney these develop more easily in the dilute urine produced by failing kidneys.
  • Weakness and indifference

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What Is Kidney Failure In Cats

When your cat’s kidneys are healthy they work to remove toxins, manage blood pressure, maintain a normal electrolyte balance, regulate hydration and calcium, and produce hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells.

If your cat is diagnosed with kidney failure – also known as renal failure – the kidneys are no longer functioning efficiently. This can be caused by a number of factors and conditions, such as infections, tumors or ingesting something toxic.

The immediate risk of failing kidneys in cats is that they cannot clear the blood of dangerous toxins.

The Signs Of Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats

Its estimated that one in three cats over the age of ten is affected by chronic kidney disease 1, a condition that causes a progressive deterioration in kidney function. Unfortunately, there is no cure for CKD, but early diagnosis and proper management can make a big difference to a cats quality of life and life expectancy2.

What Is Chronic 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.

Types Of Kidney Failure In Cats

Kidney Failure (Uremia) Symptoms 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.

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Symptoms Of Kidney Failure

If your cats kidneys arent removing waste from his or her body, you may notice many signs. General symptoms of kidney failure in cats can include:

Additionally, indications of acute kidney failure include an arched back or stiff-legged gait , and either frequent or no urination.

Because chronic kidney failure may gradually progress over years, you may not notice it. By the time you see symptoms, the disease may already have advanced.

However, with appropriate treatment some cats that have experienced chronic kidney failure live a good quality of life for years to come.

Symptoms of chronic kidney failure include easily bruising or bleeding, and increased urination.

Etiology And Concurrent Disease

The etiology of the ACKD was classified as ureteral obstruction , pyelonephritis, renal ischemia, other renal related etiology , or unknown. Ureteral obstruction was diagnosed based on compatible clinical signs , sonographic evidence of hydroureter, or pyelectasia of > 7mm, or both,23 and was confirmed by nephropyelogram in equivocal cases. Cats with UO were only included if there was a clear sonographic evidence of CKD in the obstructed or contralateral kidney, concurrent with the obstruction. Pyelonephritis was suspected based on positive urine culture and pyuria on urinalysis with consistent ultrasonographic findings . Renal ischemia was considered the etiology of ACKD in cats treated with furosemide or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, in those where the acute exacerbation had occurred after general anesthesia and in cases that had experienced traumatic injury just before presentation with ACKD. Additional etiologies , including proteinlosing nephropathy, cardiorenal syndrome , and infected renal cortical cyst, were allocated into other renal.

Pancreatitis was diagnosed in cats with compelling ultrasonographic findings,25, 26 serum 1,2odilaurylRacglycero glutaric acid ester lipase activity above the hospital’s laboratory upper reference limit , or both.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Polycystic Kidney Disease In Cats

The cysts in the kidneys do not cause any symptoms until they are large enough to cause damage to the kidney tissue, affecting how the kidneys function. The average age this starts to happen is 7 years of age, but it can range from around 3 to 10 years of age.

Once the function of the kidneys is affected, the signs we see are the same as chronic kidney disease in cats. It isnt possible to identify PKD as the underlying cause without performing further tests.

Clinical signs of kidney disease in cats include:

Stage : Early Kidney Insufficiency

Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats

At this early stage, your vet will often find a large amount of protein in your cats urine.

High blood pressure and a creatine level greater than 1.5 will likely be noted.

Treatment at this stage includes annual blood pressure, blood tests, and urine testing.

Dental care recommendations are common to prevent periodontal disease, which can exacerbate renal problems.

Calcitriol therapy will help replace vitamin D.

Abdominal x-rays may be ordered to rule out kidney stones.

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Signs Of Kidney Disease In Cats

The signs of acute kidney disease come on suddenly, often beginning with a poor appetite and lethargy. Other signs depend on the cause of the kidney injury and the severity of the damage.

Though it’s best to catch chronic kidney disease at an early stage, it’s often hard for pet parents to spot the beginning signs, Mears says. After all, cats are masters at masking their weaknessit’s a survival instinct. Your veterinarian is more likely to detect early-stage kidney disease through routine wellness testing. Urinalysis can show high protein levels, an indication of kidney problems. High blood pressure can be a red flag, too.

Chronic kidney disease usually occurs in older catsonly 10 percent of young kitties are affected. See your vet if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Increased thirst

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Could The Renal Failure Have Been Diagnosed Earlier

Until recently, early diagnosis of chronic renal failure was very difficult. Neither clinical signs of renal failure nor rises in BUN and creatinine are evident until significant loss of kidney function has occurred.

A recently developed blood test to assess levels of SDMA has been used to determine if early renal failure is occurring. SDMA concentrations increase above the normal reference interval well before serum creatinine becomes elevated. This will help your veterinarian provide for treatment for your cat at a much earlier stage in the disease.

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How Is Ckd Treated

Dietary management and correction and prevention of dehydration are crucial factors in treatment. Other treatments, such as supplementing with potassium or phosphate binders, and treatment for hypertension or anemia may also be recommended. Your veterinarian will thoroughly discuss your cats treatment plan and your role in it. We recommend that you prepare any questions you may have and actively participate in the conversation.

Cats with CKD need extra support, but theyll return your effort with the love only a cat can give hopefully for years to come!

Suggested reading:

This article was reviewed by Cat Healthy feline specialist Dr. Margie Scherk, DVM, DABVP andsponsored by IDEXX.

How Does Kidney Failure Occur

The Dangers of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Hypersensitivity reactions can occur with any medication, but tend to be very rare for Albon use in cats.

Kidney failure occurs when at least two-thirds of each kidney is damaged. With this much damage, the kidneys cannot perform their essential functions.

Kidney failure can be acute or chronic.

Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop working. Some of the many causes of acute kidney failure are toxin ingestion and shock.

Chronic kidney failure, also called chronic kidney disease, develops over many years. It usually begins when cats are about six years old and becomes progressively worse as the nephrons slowly die. When more nephrons die than can be replaced, kidney failure becomes apparent.

Chronic kidney failure is much more common than acute kidney failure in cats, so well focus on chronic kidney failure.

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How Is Kidney Disease Diagnosed In Cats

None of the signs are specific for chronic kidney disease in cats, so we will need to carry out a number of tests to find out what is causing them.

Initially, your cat will need a thorough clinical examination in a free consultation with one of our vets. In addition to the presence of the signs above, we may be able to feel that your cats kidneys are enlarged, painful or shrunken.

There will often be an increase in kidney values on blood tests. These include Urea, Creatinine, Phosphate and electrolyte imbalances. In addition, a newer, more sensitive marker SDMA is helping us to detect the condition at an earlier stage. Even so, we are unable to detect kidney failure until 66% or more of the kidneys are not working normally.

Before your appointment with the vet, we will ask for you to collect, or hospitalise your cat to obtain, a urine sample. Cats with kidney failure will usually have protein in their urine and sometimes blood or cells dependent on the cause.

If your cat is compliant, we will advise blood pressure testing. Blood pressure is often high due to excessive salt retention by the kidneys. We may also suggest X-rays or an ultrasound scan to check for conditions such as polycystic kidneys, kidney stones or tumours.


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