Chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats is the persistent loss of their kidney function over time. Healthy kidneys perform many important functions, most notably filtering the blood and making urine, so problems with kidney function can result in a variety of health problems for a cat
Problems with kidney function can cause a variety of health issues for your cat with them feeling unwell. And as they lose important vitamins and proteins the results can be severe. Learn more about kidney disease in cats – when to euthanise here…
Renal failure in cats progresses in different stages – beginning with mild early disease – and developing to end-stage. Kidney failure in cats – final stages are technically defined as a less than 10% of normal renal function.
CKD can be seen in cats of any age, but is most commonly seen in middle-aged to older cats. It becomes increasingly common with age. It has been estimated that between 20-50% of cats over 15 years of age will have some degree of CKD.
Kidney failure can be categorised as acute or chronic. Chronic kidney failure is the loss of the functional units of the kidney – known as nephrons. Once damaged they can’t be replaced, as happens during every day wear and tear – or due to a bout of acute kidney failure.
Symptoms of kidney failure in cats vary and not all cats will experience the indicators which range from blindness to depression.
Diagnosis of Feline Kidney Disease
Your vet will need to carry out a clinical examination to determine whether further testing will be required. A blood test will measure the amounts of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine – a high level will point to abnormal kidney filtering. A high level of phosphorus is also an indicative mark as it accumulates in the blood.
Further examination may also show evidence of nodules or cyst on the kidney that may indicate cancer. Or kidneys may be undersized or abnormal in shape. Lymph nodes may also be enlarged.
Success in treating cats with chronic kidney disease has also been related to diet. Homemade diets with 40% protein calories and 60% fat mixed with supplements such as fish oil have proven to aid recovery.
Supplementing your cats’ diet with omega-3 fatty acids keeps kidney inflammation in check. Research has shown that cats that eat high amounts of fish oil have a longer life expectancy – as it slows the progression of kidney disease.
For chronic renal failure there is no cure – but with appropriate treatment, your cat may live for months or even years – the median figure comes in at between less than two years up to almost six years.
Sadly, cat euthanasia at home may be your final option. You’ll be able to discuss home visit services with an understanding vet – and get all the help and support you need at this difficult time.
The procedure will be clearly and simply explained. A mild sedative will be administered that sends your pet into a peaceful sleep. Then an anaesthetic agent will cause the heart to slow and calmly stop. And your cat will peacefully pass away surrounded by loved ones.