A Guide for Cat Owners: Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease in CatsThumbnail for

Aren’t cats the best? Besides being wonderful companions, they’re also our feline foot warmers and furry morning alarm clocks. For cat lovers everywhere, these small creatures are far more than pets – they’re family!

Know The Signs Of Kidney Disease in Your Cat

Despite their long average feline lifespan, one of the hardest parts of sharing our lives with cats is watching them get older – many felines can live to a ripe old age, but they count on us to give them attentive care to keep them happy and healthy. One of the most common illnesses that can affect our kitties as they age is kidney dysfunction or failure, but beware – since cats instinctively hide symptoms of disease, it’s often not obvious that they’re sick until a disease has progressed significantly. If you make a habit of watching your cat carefully, though, you can spot the early signs of kidney problems, which can help your pet get timely treatment. Here are the facts about feline kidney disease that all cat owners should know.

Kidney disease is the reduced ability for your kitty to eliminate waste products from their body into their urine, which can lead to a build up of these toxic products in their bloodstream. Kidney disease can be caused by:

  • High blood pressure
  • Infection
  • Immune illnesses
  • Hereditary disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney trauma
  • Urinary obstructions like kidney stones
  • Toxin exposure, like antifreeze

The signs of kidney disease can be different from cat to cat, but the most common symptoms of illness are weight loss, changed appetite, dehydration, increased drinking, vomiting or diarrhea. Because cats are masters at masking illness, if you notice even a slight change in your cat’s appetite, behavior or toilet habits, it’s a good idea to make a vet appointment right away. Kidney disease is more common in senior cats, of course, but can also happen to cats of any age – some cats are born with abnormal kidneys, and there are a few breeds (like Persians and Himalayans) that have greater risk factors for hereditary disease.

How Can Your Vet Tell Your Cat Has Kidney Disease? Thumbnail for

You may wonder how your vet can tell whether your cat has kidney problems or not. Well, besides doing a physical exam, they’ll probably perform blood and urine tests that measure how well your cat’s kidneys are performing. It’s important for them to get the full picture of your cat’s health, so sometimes your vet may also recommend radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound and blood pressure readings, too.

Treatment for kidney dysfunction can depend on whether the disease is acute (happened suddenly) or chronic (happened over a long period of time). Although kidney damage, once done, can’t be reversed, many of our four-legged feline friends can live comfortably with special care to help them deal with the effects of kidney disease. This can include prescription food, anti-nausea treatments and blood pressure medications.

It’s possible for kidney disease to cause other health issues for our feline friends over time, including a decrease in calcium levels and anemia, so it’s important to keep your vet notified of any changes if your cat has been diagnosed with this illness. Many cats can live full and happy lives, however, when kidney disease is identified early and managed proactively!

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