Kidneys help produce good-quality urine, eliminate protein wastes, and promote the balance of salts, acids, and water in a cat’s body. Usually, the kidneys start to weaken as your cat ages. So when kidney failure occurs, the kidneys would not be able to perform the mentioned tasks. However, senior cats are not the only ones who are at risk of developing kidney diseases. In some cases, there are kittens that are born with kidney problems. There are two types of kidney diseases in cats:
Acute Kidney Disease – this kidney disease can develop in a short time, possibly in just weeks or even days. Cats of all ages are susceptible. This kidney problem can lead to death. But if diagnosed on time, acute kidney failure can be reversed. Possible causes of kidney failure are:
- Kidney infections
- Poisons (most common cause for acute kidney disease)
- Toxic plants such as lilies
- Cleaning fluids
- Human medicines (extremely harmful to cat’s kidneys; an ibuprofen tablet is believed to shut down cat’s kidneys)
- Other liquid substances found at home that can be poisonous for cats
- Blood loss
- Overheating due to hot climate
- Significant increase in activities
- Low blood pressure that minimises the blood that flows to the cat’s kidneys
- Blockage that affects the blood flow into the kidneys as well as the urine flow
Chronic Kidney Disease – this kidney failure usually occurs in middle-aged cats or around seven years old. This kidney disease can develop over months or years, and is quite more difficult to treat. Dehydration and milder signs of disease will ascend as the disease augments. The specific causes of this kidney failure are usually difficult to identify; however, these include the following:
- Bacterial infections of the kidney and the bladder
- Kidney blockages
- Urinating frequently (urinating outside the litter tray can be another sign; this could mean that your cat cannot hold water anymore)
- Too much water intake (to replace the fluid your cat has been urinating)
- Weight loss
- Mouth ulcers
- Pale gums
- Tongue turning into a brownish colour
- Foul-smelling breath accompanied by an ammonia-like smell
- Weakness and/or change in behaviour
- Unkempt coat
- Cloudy or bloody urine
Kidney disease should be diagnosed whilst early for better chances of treating and underlying cause, to protect the kidneys, to slow down the progress of the disease, and most importantly, to help your cat live a healthier, longer life.
Diagnosing the Kidney Disease
The veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination. The vet will be able to detect abnormal shape and size of the kidney stones in the urinary passageways with cautious abdominal palpation. Routine or regular physical examination is recommended to help monitor your cat’s health and protect it.
Kidney Disease Stages
The chronic kidney disease stages are measured on how severe it is. The severity depends on the level of wastes that can be found in the blood as well as the differences found in the urine. The first stage of the disease means less severity, whilst the fourth stage is the peak of its severity; this is according to the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS). Staging the kidney failure is a way to monitor the patients with this disease for both severity and treatment.
Stage one: Waste product in the blood is not very significant; however, there can be other abnormalities in the kidney.
Stage two: When the levels of creatinine are between 1.6mg and 2.8mg for every decilitre.
Stage three: The level of creatinine in the blood has reached 2.9mg to 5mg per decilitre. There is an accumulation of waste in the blood and other symptoms have appeared.
Stage four: The creatinine level is now over 5mg per decilitre. There is severe build-up of waste products in the blood and multiple symptoms are visible.
Diet for Cats with Kidney Disease
A cat with chronic kidney disease should have a diet consisting of high-quality protein as well as less-than-normal amounts of phosphorus and sodium intake. Control of the phosphorus intake has proved to be essential in limiting the progress of the kidney problem. Cats with kidney issues are recommended to eat a balanced diet that is fresh or excellent-quality, human-grade canned food. If your cat is still eating kibble, its diet should be transitioned to a diet that gives more moisture to aid the nourishment of the kidneys as soon as possible. Access to unlimited, fresh, drinkable water is a must.
The goals of the treatment for cats with kidney failures are the following:
- Keep the quality of life of the cat for as long as it should.
- Control the build-up of the waste products that are found in the blood.
- Slow down the progress of the kidney disease.
Initially, the cat will be recommended ‘fluid therapy,’ which is usually given to cats suffering from anorexia, vomiting, and dehydration, and also to expel the waste products in the cat’s system. Usually, fluid therapy is done in the hospital. However, when the cat is rehydrated and stable, pet owners are likely to want to learn to give the fluids in the comforts of their homes. These fluids are subcutaneous, meaning they are injected underneath the skin.
Know more about preventive measures to different cat health concerns here!