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How Long Do Cats Live With Kidney Disease

How Long Can A Dog Live With Kidney Failure

Feline Kidney Disease and Real Food for Life

Kidney disease continues to be a serious health problem for dogs and cats that usually cut their life short. Over the years the situation has been improving thanks to the greater awareness about the need for detecting and addressing kidney disease.;

Aging Causes Kidney Slowdown

Dogs end up with kidney problems for two reasons. One is the age factor that wears out the kidney tissues and second is unhealthy food. The aging complications are often linked with the size of the dog.

In small dogs, kidney failure issues generally show up after 10 to 14 years whereas in large dogs kidney problems can begin after six years of age. When age advances the filtration capability of kidneys becomes slower, inefficient, and ineffective.

Timely medical attention for a sustained treatment and use of food supplements and medications could lessen the scope of kidney failure among dogs, and extend a dogs life who is dealing with kidney failure.Therefore, a dog with kidney failure can live a long time.

However, kidney failure does not mean automatic death. Many dogs facing kidney failure can live on a small amount of function with the proper nutrition, supplements and medication.

Treatment For Dogs;With Kidney Failure

The treatment of chronic kidney disease is planned based on test results. However, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can help dogs carry on with a normal lifestyle for many months or years.

  • Dehydration
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Seizures

Kidney Shield

What Are The Causes Of Kidney Disease In Cats

In most cases, the exact cause of CKD is unknown and research is ongoing. Chronic kidney disease in cats is sometimes known to be caused by:

  • Ongoing inflammation of the glomeruli
  • Damage to the kidneys following a kidney infection
  • Toxin damage
  • Weakness due to muscle wastage, anaemia and low blood potassium
  • Dehydration due to excess water loss into the urine
  • Bad breath Due to toxin build-up and oral and gastric ulceration;

In the latter stages of kidney disease in cats, the animal will start to feel very unwell, feeling constantly sick, dehydrated and weak. They will also be in significant pain from ulceration of the mouth and stomach lining and toxin build-up leading to headaches, blindness and eventually collapse.

In acute kidney failure, the cat will show signs in a matter of hours or days. They can include:

  • Sudden anorexia
  • Seizures
  • Some cats may urinate more than usual, while others may produce no urine at all.;

Cats with acute renal failure will feel very unwell in a short space of time. They often seem to be in significant pain due to swelling of the kidneys and may collapse or cry constantly.;

Hyperthyroidism In Older Cats

The term hyperthyroid means too much thyroid hormone. This chemical, manufactured by the thyroid glands in the neck, sets the running speed of the body. Levels of this hormone can be measured by a blood test. If too much thyroid hormone is being produced, all the body functions speed up. A pet with hyperthyroidism will eat lots but still lose weight and the cat may also be active, or even aggressive. Their heart rate will be rapid and permanent heart damage may result. Blood pressure can go up too. Vomiting and diarrhoea are common symptoms, although hyperthyroidism is not necessarily the only cause. The underlying reason for hyperthyroidism is unknown.

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How Is Chronic Kidney Disease Managed

If a specific cause for the CKD is identified , treatment may be possible to arrest the progression of the disease. In most cases though, treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Some cats may require initial intravenous fluid therapy to correct dehydration , but once stable, treatment is aimed at supporting kidney function and minimising the complications of CKD. Despite therapy, CKD cannot be reversed and in most cases will also progress over time.

Optimal management of kidney disease usually requires repeat investigations at regular intervals to identify treatable complications as they arise, eg, anaemia, low potassium, high phosphate, urinary infections, and hypertension. Dietary modification is important in cats with CKD to improve quality of life and slow progression of disease, but a variety of other treatments may be valuable also, depending on individual needs. Sometimes multiple drug therapies may be needed, but if it is difficult to administer medications to your cat, these may need to be prioritised. Monitoring progression of kidney disease si also important thorugh regular blood and urine tests.

What Causes Kidney Failure In Cats

Advice on Kidney Disease in Cats

The filtering system in your cats kidneys consists of thousands of microscopic tubes . While a kidney will still work if some nephrons are damaged, if too many nephrons stop working too suddenly for the good nephrons to compensate, the kidneys can fail.

The most immediate symptom of kidney failure is that they stop clearing the blood of dangerous toxins. Though cats kidneys may start to fail with age, they arent the only ones at risk .

Here are some common causes of both acute and chronic kidney failure in cats:

  • Acute Kidney Failure
  • Ingestion of toxins or harmful substances
  • Dehydration
  • Bacterial infection
  • Illnesses such as cancer
  • Specific medications
  • Trauma
  • Shock

Chronic Kidney Failure

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cysts

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The Stages Of Kidney Disease

Its important for cat owners to know the distinction between chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney failure. With treatment, cats with chronic kidney disease can live happily and healthily during the diseases first three stages. During this time, you might not even notice that anything is wrong. Most cats show few symptoms of chronic kidney disease in the early stages, which is why owners often dont detect the condition until significant damage has been done.

If left untreated or if it progresses significantly, chronic kidney disease will lead to stage four, or end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal. Cats experiencing end-stage kidney failure are most likely to display severe symptoms. Among the most common symptoms are loss of appetite and recurring nausea. Once kidney disease advances to stage four, the disease has caused irreversible damage to your kittys health, and the end may be near.

Prognosis Of Kidney Disease In Cats

The prognosis is always guarded as the kidneys have very limited capacity to regenerate. Short term survival and long term outlook is dependent on the cause, how soon treatment is given following the insult to the kidneys and whether there was already an underlying kidney condition or another disease that made your cat more susceptible.;

For example, a cat with acute kidney disease due to urinary tract obstruction or infection could make a full recovery from the kidney disease when appropriate treatment is given to relieve obstruction or infection. Sadly, in contrast, most cats with antifreeze toxicity do not survive as severe, irreparable damage has been done to the kidneys by the time they show symptoms.;

Therefore, the aim of treatment for chronic kidney disease is to improve the cats quality of life by controlling the symptoms and to slow down the progression of the disease.;

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Medication For Kidney Disease

Phosphate binders e.g; Pronefra, Ipakitine can be used to reduce excessive phosphate and toxin levels in your cats blood.

ACE inhibitors e.g; Benazecare, Fortekor may be used if your cats blood pressure is raised to prevent further damage to the kidneys and any other secondary effects of high blood pressure e.g; stroke, heart disease and blindness.;;

Angiotensin blockers such as Semintra can be used to reduce blood pressure and protein loss through the kidneys. Excessive protein loss through the kidneys is associated with a shorter life expectancy in a cat suffering from CKD.;

Potassium supplements may be required in addition to diet, and appetite stimulants and antacids may be prescribed for cats with poor appetite or gastric ulcers.

The Mosaic Of Treatment For Ckd In Cats

Kidney Failure, End Stage Kidney, Chronic Interstitial Nephritis in the Cat

Dr. Shelly L. Vaden, a professor of internal medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, offered the following recommendations for controlling various aspects of chronic kidney disease in cats, during a session at the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020.

Nutrition: A renal diet is a cornerstone of managing CKD and can improve quality of life and prolong patient survival. Enhance the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids; restrict protein, phosphorus, and sodium contents; and increase potassium, vitamin, and fiber contents and caloric density.

Proteinuria: Persistent proteinuria is associated with a greater frequency of morbidity and mortality associated with CKD. Manage with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers.

Hypertension: Control of blood pressure is essential for CKD management, in that hypertension can cause a more rapid decline in renal function. Because amlodipine can activate the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, an ACEi or ARB needs to be given concurrently to block this activation. Telmisartan, an ARB, lowers blood pressure and can be used as a single agent to control hypertension in cats with CKD.

Metabolic acidosis: Cats with CKD and metabolic acidosis will not feel well and may be anorexic. Renal diets help address acidosis. However, alkalinizing agentssodium bicarbonate or potassium citratemay be needed.

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The End Stage Of Cat Kidney Disease

One of the most deadly diseases or conditions which afflicts felines is cat kidney disease.This condition is relatively common amongst older cats. As your cat ages, his kidney begins to lose nephrons, which are the functional cellsthat operate within the kidneys and help them to continue their filtration and detoxification processes. As this happens, toxins can begin to build up in the blood as kidney tissue begins to die.

There are a number of different stages of cat kidney disease, and they generally correspond to a difference in kidney function and overallhealth in your cat. The end stage of kidney function is the last and most severe of these stages.

Medication For Cats With Kidney Disease

Cats with kidney disease may also need to receive various medications. Again, you’ll need your veterinarian’s guidance in deciding which medications are necessary and/or appropriate for your cat. ACE-inhibitors such as enalapril or benazepril are often recommended. High blood pressure is a common consequence of kidney disease and may need to be treated as well. Medications such as amlodipine are sometimes recommended to treat hypertension . However, each cat is different and your cat’s treatment protocol will need to be tailored to fit your cat’s individual needs. Consult with your veterinarian and administer any medications as directed. Do not increase, decrease, or discontinue medications without speaking with your veterinarian first.

Dr. Lorie Huston

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When To Contact Your Vet

If you notice any of the symptoms above, contact your vet. The earlier kidney disease is detected, the better the chance of slowing further damage and the longer your cat is likely to live.

Kidney disease is much more common in older cats. Have your cat checked by your vet regularly especially once they are in their senior years .

You know your cat best. If they dont have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned its always best to contact your vet.

Can Kidney Disease Be Reversed

How much does a cat with kidney failure live?

Kidney disease can be managed and deterioration can be slowed down, but it cant necessarily be reversed.

Through proper management, you can certainly improve their kidney values and prolong their life, but you wont ever completely eradicate the disease.

The only situations in which you could reverse kidney failure is when the acute damage is due to infectious disease, urethral obstruction, toxin ingestion, or any other treatable situation.

If kidney damage is the result of an acute and treatable illness, then it is possible to reverse the damage with aggressive care.

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How Do I Know If My Cat Is Suffering

Behaviour signs of a cat in pain Reduced appetite. Lethargy. Decreased interest in positive things like playing, social interaction and exploring outside. Being withdrawn and hiding away. Appearing lame and experiencing increased sensitivity to touch in specific areas of their body. Reduction in movement and activity.

Symptoms Of Kidney Failure In Cats

If your cats kidneys arent removing waste from his or her body, you may notice that your cat is drinking more water and attempting to urinate more. Because the toxins build up in the cat’s body, they may feel nauseous and stop eating their food. In general, your cat will appear to be lethargic and not very happy.;

General symptoms of kidney failure in cats can include:

  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Bad breath

If your cat is suffering from acute kidney failure you may also notice an arched back or stiff-legged gait, symptoms that your cats kidneys are causing pain.

Chronic kidney failure gradually progresses over years, and the signs may not be noticeable. By the time you do see symptoms, the disease may already be leading to total kidney failure.;

While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, if its detected and treated early your cats longevity and quality of life can be improved.

Symptoms of End Stage Kidney Failure in Cats

Symptoms of end stage kidney failure in cats include dull sunken eyes, inability to walk, body odour, incontinence in bladder or bowels, refusal to eat or drink, seizures, confusion, pacing and restlessness, withdrawing, hiding and running away.

Though more than one of these symptoms will be present, you may not see all of them in your cat. With kidney failure, there are no easy answers, as different symptoms may be present at different times.;

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Is There A Difference Between Kidney Disease And Kidney Failure

Though the two are tied together, there is a major difference between kidney disease and kidney failure.

Kidney disease is the chronic decline of kidney function over time, while kidney failure is the actual failing of the kidneys to the point where they cannot function properly any longer.

The kidneys are an impressive set of organs, as they can continue to function until 65-70% of the kidneys have been impaired by chronic disease.

Kidney failure would be the period in time of where the cats kidneys have already experienced severe damage, and can no longer function properly.

How Kidney Disease Affects Cats

Cat Kidney Failure Symptoms

Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys lose some of their function. The kidneys primary job is to filter waste and toxins out of the blood and into the urine, but they also regulate mineral levels and trigger the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.;

When the kidneys arent performing well, harmful substances build up in blood. Cats with kidney disease can also develop anemia, or lack of red blood cells.;

There are two types of kidney disease in cats: acute and chronic . Acute cases usually happen when a cat eats something poisonous, like antifreeze or Easter lilies, or has an infection, says Erick Mears, DVM, DACVIM, medical director of BluePearl Pet Hospital in Tampa Bay, Florida. But kidney disease in cats is mostly chronic. Previous infection, another disease, or an unknown cause may damage the kidneys.;

When part of the kidney is damaged, the rest has to work harder to keep up with the bodys demands. Eventually, the extra effort wears the kidneys out, and their function further decreases. This is why chronic kidney disease gets worse over time.

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How Long Do Cats Live With Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease is a type of kidney disease where cats have cysts in their kidneys, but their number and the rate at which they grow bigger varies from cat to cat. In most cases, this disease will not show any signs, until your cats get to an older age, typically around seven. This illness needs to be treated and with the proper treatment, your cat can have many months and years of high-quality life ahead.

What Are The Causes Of Crf

CRF is the end stage of a number of different disease processes rather than a specific disease in its own right. Diseases or conditions that can eventually lead to CRF include:

1. Congenital malformations of the kidneys – such as polycystic kidney disease in long haired cats

2. Pyelonephritis – bacterial kidney infections

3. Glomerulonephritis – inflammation and damage to the kidney’s filtration membrane

4. Neoplasia – various tumors of the kidney, most commonly lymphosarcoma

5. Amyloidosis – this is the build-up of an unusual protein in the kidney that prevents the kidney from functioning normally

6. Viral infections such as feline leukemia virus or feline infectious peritonitis virus

7. Kidney stones or ureteral stones

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Can A Cat Recover From Kidney Failure

How long can I expect my cat to live? Unfortunately, once the kidneys are damaged, they have very limited ability to recover. However, with proper management, most CRF cases progress very slowly. With treatment, your cat may have several years of good quality, active life ahead.

Turn Treatment Into Social Time


Giving subcutaneous fluids at home is easy and relatively painless to your cat, especially if you bring a positive attitude to the project. Your veterinarian will show you how to administer the fluids at home. Make this a special time for you and your pet and youll both enjoy the the experience, rather than dreading it.

Subcutaneous fluids are generally only part of treating feline kidney disease; a special diet and medications may also be necessary. But providing fluid therapy in a home environment is a vital part of older cat care for many pets and pet owners, and its truly a lifesaving gift of love to a special pet.

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