Cat Kidney Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
Cats are known for their liberty and self-sufficiency, but when it comes to their health, they depend completely on their owners. One of the most common and dangerous diseases that affect cats is kidney disease. Cat kidney disease is a common and potentially life-threatening condition that can afflict cats of all ages. As the name implies, this disease takes place when the kidneys fail to function correctly, leading to a build-up of toxins in the body. In fact, it is evaluated that as many as 30% of cats over the age of 10 have some form of renal disease. The kidneys play a vital role in filtering toxins and waste products from the blood, regulating the fluid balance in the body, and stimulating the production of erythropoietin. In this article, we will discuss the types, causes, symptoms, and prevention of cat kidney disease.
Types of Kidney Disease
CKD (chronic kidney disease) is a growing and irreversible condition that affects the kidneys’ capability to function properly. It is commonly seen in older cats and can develop gradually over a period of months or years.
AKI (Acute kidney disease), on the other hand, is a sudden and severe decrease in kidney function that can occur due to a variety of reasons such as toxins, infections, dehydration, and urinary blockage. AKI is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment, and if left untreated, it can lead to irreversible kidney damage or even death.
Causes of Cat Kidney Disease
Kidney disease in cats can be caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, it may be due to genetics, as certain breeds of cats are more prone to kidney disease than others. The most common causes of kidney disease in cats include:
As cat ages, their risk of developing kidney disease increases. Kidneys may not function as efficiently as they used to. This can lead to a gradual regression in kidney function over time.
Infections, such as urinary tract infections, can cause kidney disease in cats. Some bacteria and viruses can also lead to cause damage to kidneys for example viral illnesses such as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can both lead to kidney damage and eventual kidney failure.
Some cat breeds are more inclined to kidney disease than others. Some examples of this are Persians and Siamese cats, who are at higher risk of developing PKD (polycystic kidney disease). This is because they have a hereditary predisposition to the condition.
Some medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) affect the blood flow to the kidney, which may lead to renal failure in cats. So, it is essential to consult a veterinarian before administering any medication to your cat.
Certain toxins, such as antifreeze, pesticides, and lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. It is important to keep such toxins away from your cat.
Cats who do not drink enough water or who have a chronic condition that causes dehydration (hyponatremia or hyperosmolar), such as hyperthyroidism or kidney disease are more susceptible to developing kidney disease. Many cats will not automatically drink all the water they need. One great way of getting more hydration into your cat’s diet is to feed them wet foods.
A diet that is high in phosphorus and magnesium can put extra stress on the kidneys, which can eventually lead to kidney failure over time. Consult with your veterinarian to discuss your cat’s nutrition and ensure they are on the right path to stay healthy.
Symptoms of Cat Kidney Disease
The indicators of kidney disease in cats can vary depending on the intensity of the illness. It is essential to identify these symptoms to get your cat the necessary medical attention. Some common symptoms of kidney disease in cats include:
Increased thirst and urination
Cats with kidney disease have increased water consumption and urination. This results in the accumulation of toxins throughout the body because the kidneys are unable to filter waste products from the blood.
Loss of appetite
Cats with kidney disease might lose their appetite or eat less than usual. This is because they may experience queasy or vomiting, which can make them feel uncomfortable.
Cats with kidney disease may lose weight despite eating properly. This is because the body is unable to absorb nutrients correctly, leading to malnutrition.
Vomiting and diarrhea
Cats with kidney dysfunction may experience vomiting and diarrhea. This is because the toxins in the body can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Cats with kidney disease may have bad breath due to the build-up of toxins in their system. This is because the kidneys are unable to separate pollutants from the blood, leading to the accretion of toxins in the body.
Poor coat condition
The accumulation of toxins in the body can also affect a cat’s coat, making it dull and unkempt.
Cats with kidney disease may appear weary or listless and may not want to play or exercise. This is because they may experience weakness and fatigue due to the aggregation of toxins in the body.
Prevention of Cat Kidney Disease
Preventive measures include:
Routine veterinary check-ups can help catch kidney disease early when it is more curable.
Provide plenty of fresh water
Ensure your cat always has access to fresh, clean water. Consider using a cat fountain to encourage your cat to drink more water.
Feeding your cat, a high-quality diet can help ward off kidney disease. Avoid feeding your cat foods that are high in salt or phosphorus.
Regular exercise can help keep your cat healthy and reduce the risk of kidney disease. Make sure to play with your cat for about 10 minutes at a time, multiple times a day. This will ensure they stay in shape and healthier.
If your cat needs medication, make sure to discuss the potential side effects with your veterinarian, especially if the medication can affect kidney function.
Keep your cat away from toxic substances such as antifreeze, which can cause kidney damage.
Manage underlying conditions: If your cat has an underlying condition that can contribute to kidney diseases, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes, make sure it is well-managed.
Diagnostic Tests for Kidney Disease
There are a few different types of tests your vet can do to test for kidney disease.
Blood tests can help to evaluate kidney function by detecting levels of creatinine and nitrogen in the blood. Elevated levels of these substances can indicate kidney disease.
Urinalysis can help to evaluate kidney function by measuring levels.
Examining using imaging techniques like ultrasound or x-ray can be used to determine the size and shape of the kidneys, as well as any structural abnormalities that may be contributing to kidney disease.
Treatment of Cat Kidney Disease
Unfortunately, there is no cure for cat kidney disease, but treatment can help manage the disease and improve your cat’s quality of life. Treatment options may include:
Fluid therapy, either through subcutaneous or intravenous injections, can help rehydrate cats with kidney disease.
Medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of kidney disease, such as nausea and vomiting.
Prescription diets that are low in phosphorus and magnesium can help reduce the workload on the kidneys and slow the progression of the disease.
Regular monitoring of kidney function through blood and urine tests can help your veterinarian track the progression of the disease and adjust treatment as needed.
Dialysis is typically only recommended for cats with advanced kidney disease who are not responding to other treatments. Dialysis helps to remove waste products and drag out excess fluid.
Kidney disease is a severe condition that can affect cats of any age. As a pet owner, it’s essential to be aware of the causes, symptoms, and prevention of this disease. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian, hydration, diet, exercise, and avoidance of toxins are all important steps you can take to help prevent kidney disease. By staying informed and taking the necessary steps to care for your cat, you can help they avoid kidney disease.
If your cat is showing symptoms of kidney disease, Brown Veterinary Hospital in Terre Haute, IN is here to help! Reach out at 812-645-0715 or make an appointment today.