One of the most common diseases of senior cats is chronic kidney disease (known as Chronic Renal Failure, CRF). Due to advanced nutrition and medical care our pets are living longer than ever before. Your vet can support you to ensure that your cat is happy, comfortable with high quality of life alongside their diagnosis of CRF. Understanding kidney disease and being aware of the best treatment practices will ensure you are able to offer your pet all the support and care they need.
Symptoms of kidney disease in a cat
One of the earliest signs of kidney disease is an increase in your cat’s thirst. It can be easy to overlook the volume cats are drinking, but as early treatment results in better long-term management, it is worth monitoring both the amount your cat is drinking, and the amount of urine they are passing. Any increase – not matter how subtle – could be an early sign of CRF so it is worth taking your cat to the vet and/or requesting they check a urine sample. Special cat litter is available to help collect urine samples and is an easy and affordable way to assess kidney function.
In cases where the disease has progressed you may observe symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, or weight loss. If you are in any way concerned, please consult your vet asap.
Your vet will usually diagnose kidney disease with a combination of urine and blood tests. Once your cat has a diagnosis of CRF, the goal of treatment is to slow the progression of disease and ensure your cat has a good quality of life for as long as possible. We do this with a combination of dietary management, medication, and supportive therapies. Regular veterinary visits are vital, and we recommend that all senior pets are seen by their vet every 6 months, with this increasing to every 3 months once we start to manage chronic disease. As CRF progresses, the recommended treatment will change and be tailored specifically to your cat, so regular visits with a trusted vet become increasingly important.
Avoiding dehydration of your cat
Maintaining good hydration helps support the kidneys and ‘flush out’ any toxins in the body. Avoiding dehydration is very important and there are lots of things owners can do to help their cat.
Encouraging your cat to drink water can be done by providing drinking fountains, or simply leaving a tap/faucet dripping. Many cats prefer to drink from moving water than from a bowl.
Increasing the water content of food can also be of benefit. Always offer pouches or tins above dry kibble and consider adding a little additional water to the food you give. Stirring a few teaspoons of water into a pouch of food is a quick and easy way to ensure you cat gets a little extra fluid with every meal.
At some point, almost all cats with CRF will become dehydrated. At this point vets can administer fluids intravenously or under your cats skin to give them a ‘boost’ of fluids.
Intravenous or subcutaneous fluid administration would usually occur at the veterinary clinic, although we do have a home visit service should you or your cat find travelling difficult. The specialist vets at Amity Vet Clinic in Dubai will offer advice on how frequently your cat may need additional fluids, what volume is appropriate and how this can be done in a safe and comfortable way.
Diet management with kidney disease
Just like for humans, diet is a powerful tool in managing illness. Different diets are suitable for different stages of CRF and can have a huge impact of the life expectancy of your cat. Cats with kidney disease that are fed a veterinary prescription diet can live 30% longer than those fed a ‘regular’ cat food.
Any changes to your cats diet should be made gradually as cats are notoriously fussy with food. Please ask our vets for the best introduction plan for a new diet and expect any change to take several weeks.
Kidney disease medication for cats
In the early stages of CRF, diet alone is often enough to support and manage kidney disease. Over time renal disease will progress, and medication will be required to support your cat’s health. It is also very common for cats with CRF to have high blood pressure, so hypertension should be checked for regularly and treated if identified. We use small ‘cuffs’ on our patients’ arms – using the exact same technique as doctors use in people – to check cats blood pressures easily and painlessly. And again, this can be done either at Amity Veterinary clinic or in the comfort of your own home.
All cats are different, and treatment plans for kidney disease should be tailored to the individual needs of your cat and your family. We believe that with the right care, cats with CRF can continue to live happy and fulfilling lives. Amity’s specialist Veterinary Doctors are here to support you every step of the way.