Making End-of-Life Pet Care Decisions
Prepare yourself for end-of-life pet care decisions.
Kidneys are important organs. They are most famous for filtering out waste from the bloodstream to make urine, but they also help produce hormones, manage fluid and salt levels in the body, control blood pressure, and develop red blood cells. Because of all these important jobs, it can be critical if your cat’s kidneys begin to fail. Kidney problems in cats can appear in any breed, size, and age, so it’s essential to keep an eye out for possible complications.
Kidney disease is a common kidney issue in cats and one of the top causes of death. There are two types of kidney disease, which are identified as chronic and acute. So, what causes kidney disease in cats?
As the name suggests, this type of kidney disease occurs because of a chronic or long-standing issue with the kidneys that interferes with their ability to function correctly. There are a number of potential causes for chronic kidney disease, including:
While any cat can develop chronic kidney disease, it’s more common in older cats—especially seven years of age or older. There are also some veterinary experts who believe it is more prevalent in Persian and Abyssinian cats. Chronic kidney disease can’t be reversed or cured, but treatment can slow or halt its progression and extend the cat’s life.
The acute form of kidney failure is a severe condition with a more sudden onset than the chronic type. It’s often due to a blockage of blood or urine flow to or from the kidney. Another common cause is ingesting a toxic substance that affects the kidneys, such as human medication, a harmful plant, or antifreeze.
Younger cats are more likely to have acute rather than chronic kidney failure. Unlike the chronic type, it can potentially be cured, and damage to the kidneys might be reversed if caught early and treated quickly.
It can be challenging to detect kidney disease in its initial stages, particularly since cats tend to hide or mask their symptoms (learn more by reading 5 Signs Your Cat is Sick). However, you can look out for these signs of kidney disease in cats to help detect kidney issues:
Some of these signs can point to other health issues, like diabetes, so it’s essential to visit your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. And remember that early intervention can help your cat live a longer life.
To diagnose kidney disease, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and likely order blood work and a urinalysis. These diagnostic tests can help determine if your cat does indeed have kidney disease and how far it has progressed. They may also be used to help uncover the cause of kidney disease, which may not always be detectable.
In cases where it is caught early and the specific cause is determined, treatment may be able to halt the progression of the disease. Your veterinarian will determine what’s suitable for your cat’s situation. Still, treatment for kidney disease in cats can include antibiotics if there is an underlying infection and intravenous fluid therapy for rehydration to help balance electrolytes.
Medications may be prescribed, although it can be tough to administer them to a finicky feline (see tips to get your cat to take a pill). In addition, a restricted diet may be recommended, not to cure the kidney disease but to slow it down and improve the cat’s quality of life. Cats with kidney disease should also be monitored regularly by their veterinarians to treat symptoms or complications as they come up.
Another form of treatment for this disease is a transplant. Kidney transplants have been successfully performed in some countries, but this surgery is controversial. There are ethical questions over where and how donor’s kidneys are found. It’s also not known if a cat with a new kidney will survive longer than one who is given good supportive medical care.
There is no surefire way to prevent kidney disease, but there are some things you can do to help reduce the chance that your feline friend will be afflicted. For example:
While these tips can be useful, you can’t completely protect your cat from kidney disease or other illnesses. However, by taking some preventive steps and staying aware of the causes and symptoms of this common disease, you can help keep your feline friend as healthy as possible.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian
title: Kidney Disease in Cats
author: Heather M.