Your cat’s kidneys are in charge with doing many important things from making hormones to managing your pet’s blood pressure and even stimulating the bone marrow to create more red blood cells. Removing waste from the animal’s blood is also performed by your cat’s kidneys.
Unfortunately, as your pet ages, so does his or her kidneys. Left untreated, renal failure can lead to a set of serious health problems, and once it becomes chronic, there is no cure that you can use to regain your cat’s kidney health.
In this article, we’ll look at the types of kidney failure that cats are affected by, the way they evolve, and the way they can be treated and most importantly, prevented.
Two types of kidney failure
Depending on the way it evolves and the factors that cause it, kidney failure can be either acute or chronic.
Acute renal failure happens suddenly, and it takes just a couple of days or sometimes, weeks, for the symptoms to become visible. Usually, it is caused by trauma, poisons, infection in the kidneys, heart failure associated with low blood pressure, as well as blockages that can modify the blood flow into the kidney and its capability to excrete urine.
Acute renal failure can be reversed if it is diagnosed in due time. Chronic kidney issues can be either impossible or really hard to treat, and they can develop in older cats over the time span of at least several months, during which you’ll notice few to no symptoms. If you have a cat that is older than 7, you should keep tabs on his or her health and always make sure you take the animal to the vet for an annual check-up.
The issues that cause chronic kidney disease might not be clear, but they could consist of kidney infections and blockages that persist but do not cause acute kidney failure, and other conditions such as cancer, thyroid problems, dental disease, and high blood pressure.
Before we move on to the treatment of renal failure, we would like to tell you what signs you should be on the lookout for if you are worried that your cat might have kidney health problems. Frequent urination, as well as an increase in water consumption, are two worrying symptoms.
Decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, cloudy or bloody urine, mouth ulcers, bad breath, and a dry coat, as well as general weakness, should give you a pointer as to whether or not you should seek medical assistance for your cat.
How the vet will treat kidney failure
After diagnosing the stage of the kidney failure your cat is in, the veterinarian will start treating your pet. Acute kidney failure can be caught early on, in which case the organs might not have been damaged to such an extent that they can’t be recovered. Long-term supportive treatment is often necessary and beneficial in many cases.
Your cat might have to take medication that enhances her urine production, and eat a therapeutic diet, too. Fluid therapy, anemia correction, as well as the management of any electrolyte abnormalities are also needed under certain circumstances. Since renal medical conditions are usually accompanied by complications, you might have to treat your cat for gastrointestinal problems or high blood pressure, too.
If the condition fails to improve using any of these methods, your cat might have to undergo dialysis regularly or surgery for a kidney transplant. Given that renal failure occurs mostly in older cats, it’s better to prevent it using whatever means you have at your disposal. Otherwise, if your cat is diagnosed with chronic renal failure and there’s no way of solving it other than by surgery, you do have to take into account the fact that older cats aren’t capable of going through surgery and recovering from it as well as their younger counterparts.
Treating your cat at home
Once your cat is diagnosed with kidney failure, you have to make some changes at home, too, and not just those related to the pet’s diet. The veterinarian could also prescribe a special diet that counteracts biochemical abnormalities that might occur in the body, and that should also promote the kidney function.
Your cat might also have to take Omega 3 fatty acids (they protect the kidneys), potassium supplements, nutritional supplements that reduce phosphorus and Azodyl levels, as well as anti-nausea medication.
Even though chronic kidney failure is progressive, its speed and development depend on your cat and they way you manage the disease at home, too. Generally, you should watch out for the symptoms we’ve already noted above, along with dehydration, lethargy, and any change in your pet’s behavior.
Another aspect that we would like to note is that your cat might lose only one kidney functionality, in which case you have to make sure that the other one remains completely healthy. Your feline companion might actually be lucky if this does occur and one of the kidneys is not affected by disease, especially since these cases are very rare (since the condition often goes unnoticed and becomes more severe).
How can kidney problems be prevented?
If you use your common sense, you will be able to prevent your cat’s kidney disease as long as he or she isn’t genetically predisposed to developing it no matter the amount of effort you are willing to make in this direction.
One way of making sure your cat’s kidneys are healthy is to provide the animal with fresh water every day. Cats will not drink any water at all if it’s not fresh, and if you do not also feed your pet a diet consisting of dry and wet food, your feline companion has no way of ensuring hydration.
Since sometimes, bacterial infections can be at the root of kidney disease, it is a good idea to clean your cat’s litter box every day, sometimes even twice a day, if you can manage it. You can also get food that’s made specifically for preventing urinary problems, but don’t give your pet any over-the-counter medication without first talking to a specialist.
Needless to say, your cat’s kidney failure can be diagnosed with a set of simple blood tests, so you have to make sure that the pet’s routine medical checkups happen every year.