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Cat Kidney Disease: What to Know About Symptoms & Treatment

This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.

Most cats will experience some degree of kidney disease in their senior years. This generally starts after the age of 10 years and progresses slowly over months to years. It’s important for you as a cat parent to know the warning signs of kidney disease and how to support your cat’s kidney function.

Symptoms of Cat Kidney Disease

There are two types of kidney disease in cats: acute and chronic. Acute kidney disease happens when kidney function is suddenly lost and causes your kitty to be very sick. Cats with acute kidney failure stop eating, vomit and generally feel awful. Chronic kidney disease happens gradually over months and years. Signs of chronic kidney disease include drinking more, urinating more (large clumps in litter) and weight loss.

Diagnosing Cat Kidney Disease

The good news is, if caught early, kidney disease can be managed for years. Kidney disease can only be diagnosed with lab work. Your veterinarian will need to test your cat’s blood and urine. This is one of the reasons that I recommend doing regular lab work for screening starting at 10 years of age. If your cat suffers from kidney disease, they are also more prone to developing high blood pressure. Make sure your veterinarian is checking your cat’s blood pressure every 6 months if they have diagnosed your cat with kidney disease.

Treating Cat Kidney Disease

If your cat is diagnosed with kidney disease, there are many ways you can support your cat! Many of these treatments are appropriate at certain stages of kidney disease. Your veterinarian can help you decide which of the following treatment options are appropriate:

  • Low phosphorus diet. In later stages of kidney disease, your cat may benefit from a low phosphorus diet. Some veterinarians recommend protein restriction as well.
  • Potassium supplementation. Some cats suffer from low potassium as their kidneys fail. This happens because the kidneys fail to keep potassium in the blood.
  • Eliminate kibble and switch to a wet diet. Wet food contains more moisture and less carbohydrates.
  • Promote water consumption with a water fountain. As the kidneys fail, your kitty will urinate more and become dehydrated.
  • Subcutaneous fluids. These fluids help flush the toxins that the kidneys normally filter.
  • Phosphorus binders (only if your cat has high phosphorus). Phosphorus can build up in your kitty’s blood stream, causing them to feel yucky. Fluids and phosphorus binders given orally can help your kitty feel better.

When to Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian:

  • Drinking more
  • Urinating more (large clumps in litter)
  • Vomiting
  • Losing weight

I would love to hear from you! Leave a question or comment below!

With love,

Dr. Angie

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