Chronic Kidney Disease

  What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

 Chronic kidney disease is a progressive disease of the kidney which has occurred over months or even years. The kidney is an important organ as it filters toxins out of the blood and produces urine. When a cat develops kidney disease its ability to filter the blood efficiently is decreased.

The cat may have had a previous history of kidney problems, they will probably have been drinking and urinating more and they may have lost some weight.

It is more common in middle to old age cats, although it can occur in younger cats as well.

Unfortunately this disease cannot be reversed, however there are ways we can help manage the disease.


What are the signs?

Your cat may show signs such as increase in drinking and urinating, progressive weight loss and loss of body condition. Unfortunately these signs are common to several different diseases so tests need to be run to diagnose the condition.

Should your cat not be diagnosed early in the progression of the disease then further signs may include: vomiting, ulcers in the mouth, lethargy, and ammonia-smelling breath.


How is it diagnosed?

As the signs are often not specific blood tests, urine tests are usually performed along with x-rays and ultrasound, blood pressure will also be measured. There may be underlying causes that speed up the progression such as infection which can be treated; however this is not always the case.

Monitoring of blood pressure is important as animals can become hypertensive (have a high blood pressure) and this can lead to further problems (such as bleeding into their eyes and retinal detachment leading to blindness, or bleeding into the brain causing neurological signs) in addition to the high blood pressure probably further damaging the kidneys. It is important, therefore, to treat hypertension when it is diagnosed and this is usually straightforward.

Monitoring of the urine is also important to ensure loss of protein through the urine is at a minimum; protein in the urine is one of the signs we look for when we are diagnosing chronic kidney disease, as this can occur when the kidneys are damaged.

The vet will give your cats disease a stage, this is in line with the IRIS (International Renal Interest Society)guidelines. The stages are 1-4, (1 being the least affected and 4 being the worst) these are given due to a number of factors: the creatinine concentration in the blood, the blood pressure and the amount of protein in the urine.



How is it treated?

Chronic kidney disease is treated/managed in several different ways, these include changing the diet, increasing fluid intake and administering medication.


Your cat will have been prescribed a special diet which will have reduced levels of protein and phosphrous. The protein is a reduced amount as a lot of the toxins in the blood are as a result of protein breakdown. Reducing phosphorus is vital since it may slow down the deterioration in overall function. It is important to feed the correct diet as too little protein can lead to weight loss which is not good.

Your vet will tell you how much food your cat needs to eat.

If you need to try to tempt your cat to eat then white fish, chicken and soya are all good products to use.


Your cat may be prescribed several different types of medication, one may be a paste that you squirt on the food, “renalzin”, this is a type of medication known as a phosphate binder, this helps reduce the uptake of phosphorus in the diet which can be damaging to the kidneys, by reducing the uptake we are helping to protect the kidneys and potentially slow down the progression of the disease.

Another medication that may be used is called an ACE-inhibitor, these are a class of drugs that act predominantly as vasodilators (dilate blood vessels). In humans with renal failure they are commonly used to help manage the disease, as they appear to have beneficial effects on renal function and reduce protein loss through the kidneys (which can be elevated and can be harmful in renal failure).

If your cat has been diagnosed with a kidney or urine infection the vet will prescribe you some antibiotics.


Increase water intake:

It is also advisable to increase your cats’ water intake; this can be achieved several ways.

– Increasing the number of water bowls

– Different sizes and heights of water bowls

– Different locations of water bowls

– Dripping taps

– Water fountains (readily available in pet shops and online)

– Using ice cubes in the water

– Using fish or chicken stock

– Use stock ice cubes

– Feeding wet diets

– Giving fluids under the skin at home

This is to help the body flush as many of the toxins out as possible; this is also why your cat will have had a drip.



Giving fluids under the skin:
The vet may recommend that you give your cat some sub-cutaneous (under the skin) fluid. The vet or nurse will show you how to do this and will give you the equipment you need. They will also tell you how much fluid you need to give.


The steps to follow are:

– Warm the bag of fluids to body temperature

– Attach the giving set to the bag

– Hang the bag up somewhere higher than your cat (the top of a door is a good place)

– Allow the fluid to fill the giving set (the line running from the fluid bag to the animal

– Attach the needle to the giving set

– Pick up an area of your cats skin so it forms a tent, a good place is on the back of its neck, use a different part every day 

– Place the needle into the skin

– Open the valve on the giving set

– It is advisable to give your cat something to distract it whilst the fluids are being given, some food or a grooming session is a good idea

– Do not force your cat to stay still, this will only make the experience a bad one, if your cat has had enough and wants to walk away then that is fine.

– You will notice that as you are giving the fluids a lump will appear under your cats’ skin; this is completely normal and will go away over the next hour or so.

– Once you have given the fluids, close the giving set and you can store them in the fridge for up to a week, remember to warm them up each time you use them.



Points to remember:

– Your cat should be encouraged to eat the prescribed diet

– If needed then chicken or white fish are good things to use to tempt them to eat

– Try to encourage your cat to drink more by using some of the suggestions above

– If your vet recommends fluids follow the above

– If you have any questions or concerns then phone and speak to your vet or nurse

– Regular checkups are strongly recommended

– Please try to give the prescribed medications if possible, if you have trouble administering drugs, please contact us


For more information about kidney disease, please see the following links

Feline Kidney Disease. Click here

What is Kidney Disease? Click here

SimplyCats Kidney Disease. Click here

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