Kidney Disease In Cats: What Cat Owners Should Know
Perhaps the most important thing to know about kidney disease in cats is that way too many cats are affected by it. In fact, studies show that 1 in 3 cats suffer from kidney disease, reports Dr. Celeste Clements. Cats can get kidney disease for any number of underlying reasons, and even worse, its difficult to spot. Most cats show no outward signs of kidney disease until the problem is very advanced. Even when they do, the first signals of kidney disease in cats are easy to miss, including subtle weight loss, urinating/peeing more often and drinking more water. Therefore, if you notice your cat is peeing on the floor, soaking the litter box, or if your cat is always thirsty, its time to visit your veterinarian. However, once these signs are present, theres typically already been a great deal of kidney damage. Fortunately, new advances in the veterinary world are making it easier to find kidney disease in cats earlier .
What is kidney disease in cats?Kidney disease in cats is notoriously hard to catch early and can have devastating effects on our feline friends. In general, kidney disease happens when your cats kidneys stop doing their job as well as they should. This damage, once done, is usually permanent and can be caused by a variety of issues. Kidney disease in cats is classified in two primary ways, as:
- Chronic kidney disease in cats
- Acute kidney injury in cats
Kidney disease quick tips:
Nursing The Cat In End Stage Kidney Failure
Nursing is an essential part of caring for a seriously ill cat. You should keep the cat indoors for her own protection. Bed the cat down on a comfortable padded surface, such as Vetbed or a puppy pad on top of blankets. Check the cat regularly in case she has soiled and is lying in urine. If she is not moving around, encourage her to change position when awake to reduce the risk of bedsores. She may feel the cold easily, so ensure the room is warm or provide a heat mat.
The cat will not want to walk far so place a litter box, food, and water within easy reach. Most sick cats feel better for a gentle brush and having their eyes, nose, and mouth wiped clean with damp cotton wool. Let her rest but also provide quiet companionship and fuss when she is awake.
|“Today I made the decision to put my Mister down. It wasn’t fair to him to prolong the inevitable. The vet was amazing and I held him through the entire process. I have a huge gaping hole in heart but I know that I did the right thing.” — Reader comment from Sherry Purdue|
A Mosaic Of Treatment
Dr. Vaden said about 2%-20% of all cats and 30% of cats over the age of 10 have chronic kidney disease. The recent advances in diagnostics and medical management mean veterinarians can now be treating some cats for extended periods.
When we look at that and were talking about treating some of these cats for three years or more, we really need to be very thoughtful in what we do and use an evidence-based approach to our treatment and diagnostics, she said.
Chronic kidney disease is usually diagnosed via imaging or by finding persistent azotemia or an increase in serum symmetric dimethylarginine concentration. The next step is staging according to the system from the International Renal Interest Society.
The IRIS stages, from 1-4, are based on serum creatinine and SDMA concentrations, the latter added recently. The staging system also offers substaging on the basis of severity of proteinuria and hypertension.
The staging becomes important because its a way to communicate where we are diagnostically, where we are therapeutically, where the animal is in regards to expected progression and symptomatology, Dr. Vaden said.
Dr. Vaden offered recommendations for controlling aspects of nutrition, proteinuria, hypertension, anemia, metabolic acidosis, renal secondary mineral disorders, hypokalemia, and gastrointestinal signs .
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What Are The Symptoms Of End
Sometimes, the signs of kidney failure in cats are not caught early enough and the disease progresses to its end-stage. Symptoms of end-stage kidney failure in cats include general symptoms listed above, as well as dull, sunken eyes, inability to walk, body odor, incontinence in bladder or bowels seizures, confusion, refusal to eat or drink, twitching, blindness, 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. There may also be a sudden improvement in their symptoms, but do not let this fool you.
With kidney failure, there are no easy answers, as different symptoms may be present at different times. These symptoms can also be signs of other illnesses, which is why early diagnosis, disease management and communication with your vet is critical.
When it comes to symptoms of kidney failure in cats, the stage is key to prognosis. 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 Kidney Failure
If your cats kidneys arent removing waste from his or her body, you may notice many signs. General symptoms of kidney failure in cats can include:
- Excess thirst
Additionally, indications of acute kidney failure include an arched back or stiff-legged gait , and either frequent or no urination.
Because chronic kidney failure may gradually progress over years, you may not notice it. By the time you see symptoms, the disease may already have advanced.
However, with appropriate treatment some cats that have experienced chronic kidney failure live a good quality of life for years to come.
Symptoms of chronic kidney failure include easily bruising or bleeding, and increased urination.
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Is Kidney Disease Treatable
Acute kidney failure is normally treatable, so long as it is caught early enough. If the vet can pinpoint the problem, treatment to relieve the cause can be given and then fluid treatment administered to flush out the bloodstream and the kidneys while keeping your cat hydrated.Once your cat is stable, you will be allowed to take them home to continue treatment. Normally, this involves keeping them well hydrated and well fed, giving them plenty of rest in a quiet corner of your home. Not all cats suffering from acute kidney disease will require a change in diet, however, your vets will be able to advise you on your individual cat. Unfortunately, chronic kidney failure in cats cannot be treated however it can be well managed with diet and medication to help slow its progression. In cases of chronic kidney failure, a special diet for kidney disease will most likely be recommended alongside any treatment your vet advises as your cat will now require a restricted phosphorus diet with high levels of EPA/DHA and antioxidants to help support the damaged kidneys.
Clinical Signs Of Chronic Kidney Disease
Poor coat condition
CKD can result in anaemia following a reduction in erythropoietin production, the hormone associated with red blood cell production in the inner renal cortex and outer medulla . Hypokalaemia is another potential outcome characterised by muscle weakness, inappetence, anaemia and lethargy. Supplementation with potassium via the diet, oral potassium gluconate, or intravenous potassium chloride is suggested . Hyperphosphataemia occurs as the kidney struggles to excrete phosphorus. High levels of circulating phosphorus leads to the development of secondary hyperparathyroidism, due to an increased secretion of parathyroid hormone . Increased mortality in humans, cats and dogs with CKD has been linked to high serum phosphorus concentrations so dietary management is an important consideration. Hypertension is commonly seen in between 2065% of cats with CKD .
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Treatment For Kidney Disease In Cats
Acute renal failure in cats is potentially reversible if diagnosed early and treated aggressively. A cat with ARF will require admission into the veterinary hospital for intravenous fluid support to correct rehydration, flush out toxins and balance electrolytes.
We can provide your cat with anti-sickness medications, gut protectants and, where appropriate, intravenous antibiotics to aid their recovery.
Increased Thirst And Urination
If your cat is experiencing a loss of appetite, he will also experience increased thirst and urination. This is because what little food he can eat does not have enough calories to sustain his body weight and he must constantly drink. A visit to the vet is highly recommended if you suspect that either of these symptoms are occurring in your cat.
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Helping Your Cat With Kidney Disease
You love your cat and it breaks your heart to see her so sick. By all means, do everything possible to comfort her, but know sometimes it is kinder to say goodbye than battle on. Euthanasia is hard for an owner, but know you are putting the cat’s best interests first and preventing suffering. Ultimately, saying goodbye is a brave decision made from a sense of self-sacrifice. It is not what you want, but what the cat needs, that is of paramount importance in the end.
How Will My Veterinarian Determine The Degree Kidney Failure In My Cat
Your veterinarian will use the IRIS staging system. IRIS staging is based on serum creatinine levels, with sub-staging based on the presence of protein in the urine and measuring your cats blood pressure. By using this staging, your veterinarian has a better idea on how to proceed with treatment, monitor progress, and to estimate your pets prognosis.
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Nursing Care During Hospitalisation
Ideally patients with CKD will be cared for in the home environment until their natural death or euthanasia. They may require temporary periods of hospitalisation to help them through a crisis point or when they become so unwell that the owner is unable to care for them at home . Patients may become ill due to chronic kidney malfunction, or because of comorbidities such as an acute case of gastroenteritis.
The role of the veterinary nurse in providing care to cats with CKD has been considered, in line with the Orpet and Jeffrey Ability Model . A holistic approach should be employed, considering all individual needs, for example a patient may also have osteoarthritis, or hyperthyroidism related to ageing. Factors such as lifespan, the owner’s feelings about the care they wish their pet to receive, and their ability to pay for services will impact on the delivery of care. Table 2 highlights some of the likely challenges faced.
|May be stressed due to hospital environment, proximity to other patients and separation from owner/family members.|
|Express normal behaviour?||Illness may interfere with ability to express normal behaviour particularly if mobility is compromised due to ill health or fluid therapy administration.|
Orpet and Welsh, 2011
Can A Cat Recover From Kidney Disease
Once the kidneys of a cat are severely damaged, chances are he already has a very limited chance to recover. But with the right management, most chronic kidney disease cases progress slowly. Thus, with proper treatment, your cat might have several years of active and good quality life ahead. On the other hand, if your cat has acute kidney disease, it can still be treated or reversed with immediate and aggressive treatment.
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Bad Breath And Body Odor
Most cats with chronic kidney disease have bad breath that smells like ammonia. This gets worse as the condition advances. While its possible to treat bad breath, it will only get worse and worse as toxin levels in the cats body increase.
If your cat is not suffering from kidney disease then bad breath can be a sign of dental problems, dehydration, or other health complications.
The accumulation of waste and toxins in the body eventually leads to body odor. It is, however, good to keep in mind that body odor can also be caused by dehydration or diabetic ketoacidosis. Make sure to seek veterinary assistance to be absolutely sure.
How Is Kidney Failure In Cats Is Diagnosed & Treated
Your vet will do a comprehensive examination of your cat, including blood and urine tests, X-rays, and possibly an ultrasound. A kidney biopsy might also be required.
If kidney disease is found, treatments could include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, vitamin injections, supplements, medications, and possibly surgery to remove blockages. When treating kidney failure the goal is to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.
You can support your cats treatment with a carefully managed diet and plenty of clean fresh water. Your vet will recommend that you gradually transition your cat to a kidney diet that is low in both phosphorus and protein and is enriched with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
For cats with end stage kidney failure palliative care will be required in their final days. This will include keeping them warm and comfortable, with food, water and a litter box nearby, as well as lots of loving human companionship.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of kidney failure contact our Greensboro Vets right away or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital.
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Signs A Cat Is Dying Of Kidney Failure
Cats form an integral part of our families, and our desire is to keep them healthy, happy, and full of life. Unfortunately, moments come when they are nearing the end of their lives and it is never enjoyable having to watch them suffer.
It can be hard to know when a cat suffering from chronic kidney failure is in his or her final hours. There are instances when cats recover from chronic kidney disease and go on to enjoy a quality life for weeks, months, or even years.
In this post, we will highlight the signs that indicate a cat is dying of kidney failure and ways to make your cats final days as peaceful as possible.
Reduced Urination & Inability To Urinate
While cats suffering from chronic kidney disease tend to urinate profusely, this changes once the condition is advanced. The cat will produce less and less urine over time, and the worst case is when they cannot urinate at all. This is mainly caused by kidney and urinary tract infections, but in some cases, it is due to kidney stones, which can still be treated.
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What Are The Stages Of Kidney Failure
An official staging system, developed by the International Renal Interest Society , assigns a stage to chronic kidney failure according to fasting blood creatinine levels. There are also sub-stages, which consider blood pressure and protein in the urine.
The main stages are 1 to 4 . Your cats stage of kidney failure will guide treatment.
You can find the most recent IRIS staging guidelines here.
Stage : Late Stage Kidney Insufficiency
Stage 2 kidney disease in cats will show creatinine levels above 2.2.
Your vet will note that your cats urine is not being concentrated, which is a clear sign that the kidneys are failing.
Stage 2 renal failure treatment includes everything in stage 1 plus a potassium supplement.
Your cat will likely be started on the kidney diet mentioned above.
Your vet may prescribe the medication Benazepril to help decrease blood pressure within the kidneys.
Blood pressure and all blood and urine testing should be increased to twice a year.
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Can Chronic Kidney Disease Be Cured
Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease cannot be cured and it is not a reversible disease. However, if your cat receives the appropriate veterinary care and supportive treatment, the progression of the disease can be slowed down. Increasing your cats lifespan and improving their quality of life.
As part of your cats annual veterinary examination as they get older, urine samples can be taken and their weight monitored. A decreasing body weight and declining concentration of urine will alert your vet that something may be wrong. They will recommend further investigations to check for kidney disease.
Stages Of Renal Failure In Dogs
The elevation of blood waste product and abnormalities in urine, including the presence of protein, can indicate the severity of chronic kidney disease.
According to the International Renal Interest Society , stages of chronic renal disease are numbered 1 through 4 . The higher the stage number, the more symptoms youll often see in your pet. Its best if some treatments are started when the pet is at a specific stage of chronic kidney disease.
Median survival time for dogs in Stage 1 is more than 400 days, while Stage 2 ranged from 200 to 400 days and Stage 3 ranged from 110 to 200 days.
End-Stage Renal Disease in Dogs
Chronic kidney disease is progressive, and there is no cure. By the time an animal shows signs of the disease, damage is severe. The nephrons that remain are working hard to compensate for the nephrons lost to damage or age. In time, these remaining nephrons will also fail.
As the disease progresses prognosis worsens and survival time decreases with each stage. Median survival time for Stage 4 kidney disease ranges from 14 to 80 days, according to IRIS.
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