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Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?


Chronic Kidney Disease is a common and progressive condition that affects the kidneys' ability to function properly. In cats, CKD occurs when the kidneys are unable to filter waste products from the blood and reabsorb key substances like electrolytes and water.


Causes of CKD:

Chronic kidney disease in cats is usually considered a disease of old age, but these other factors can play a part:

  • Age: CKD is more common in older cats, usually developing in cats over the age of 7.

  • Genetics: Certain breeds are more prone to developing CKD, such as Persian and Siamese cats.

  • Diet: Poor quality or high-phosphorus diets may contribute to kidney damage over time.

  • Infections: Repeated or severe kidney infections can lead to kidney damage.

  • Toxins: Ingestion of certain medications, plants, or toxins can harm the kidneys.

  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension can damage kidney tissues.

  • Other Conditions: Conditions like thyroid disease or urinary tract issues can increase the risk of CKD.


Symptoms: Early stages of CKD may not show noticeable symptoms, but as the disease progresses, you might see:

  • Increased thirst and urination

  • Decreased appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

  • Lethargy or weakness

  • Poor coat quality

  • Bad breath

  • Behavioral changes


Diagnosis: If you suspect your cat may have CKD, a vet can help confirm your thoughts. Diagnosis involves:

  • Physical Examination: Checking for signs of dehydration, weight loss, and other symptoms.

  • Blood Tests: Measuring kidney function through blood tests to assess levels of creatinine, BUN, and other markers.

  • Urinalysis: Checking the urine's concentration, protein content, and presence of abnormal cells.

  • Imaging: X-rays or ultrasounds to look at the kidney size and internal structure.



Treatment: While CKD is not curable, early detection and good management by pet parents can help slow its progression and improve your cat's quality of life in the long term:

  • Dietary Changes: Specialized kidney-friendly diets can reduce stress on the kidneys.

  • Fluid Therapy: Subcutaneous or intravenous fluids may be needed to maintain hydration.

  • Medications: Medications can manage symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and hypertension.

  • Regular Check-ups: Monitoring kidney function and blood presure at regular vet visits, usually every 3 months.

  • Environmental Enrichment: Providing a stress-free environment can improve your cat's well-being.


FAQ


How long will my cat live after a diagnosis of CKD?


Every cat is different, but the mean survival time is around two years with treatment.


I have two cats, can I feed them both a diet to help with kidney disease?


No, if your other cat is healthy they do not need a diet specifically for chronic kidney disease. Another option would be to consider microchip feeders or feeding your pets in separate rooms to avoid sharing of food types.


I am frightened of needles, how will I give the fluids my cat needs?


There are many options, including taking your cat to the vet for subcutaneous fluid administration or using a mobile vet nurse or veterinarian to come to the home to give the fluids.



Summary: Chronic Kidney Disease is a serious condition that requires ongoing care and attention. With early detection and appropriate management, you can ensure your beloved feline companion enjoys the best possible quality of life. If you notice any changes in your cat's behavior, appetite, or litter box habits, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian.


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