There are two main disorders of the kidney: Acute and Chronic Renal Disease.
Acute Renal Disease is when the kidneys fail to perform their normal filtration duties. It leads to an accumulation of toxins and other waste within the bloodstream, disturbances in acid-base balance, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. It is potentially reversible if caught early.
Chronic Renal Disease is a common disease found in older cats.
How common is kidney disease?
Kidney disease can be seen in cats of any age, but is most commonly seen in those over 7 years, and it becomes increasingly common with age. Certain breeds of cats seem predisposed to developing chronic kidney disease, including the Maine coon, Abyssinian, Persian, Siamese, Russian blue, and Burmese. Elderly cats usually develop some degree of kidney disease.
What is the normal role of the kidneys?
- Removing toxins from the blood
- Maintaining water balance
- Maintaining salt balance (and other electrolytes)
- Maintaining the acid balance of the body
- Maintaining normal blood pressure
- Producing hormones
What causes kidney disease in cats?
There are many different reasons as to why Kidney Disease can occur, these include:
- Post-renal obstruction (stones, blocked bladder)
- Hypovolaemic shock (decreased blood flow to the kidneys)
- Toxins (antifreeze)
- Acute exacerbation of chronic renal failure
- Clotting disorder
Signs and symptoms
- lethargic and lose weight
- Increased water intake
- Loss of appetite
- Dehydration and hypertension (increase blood pressure)
- Anaemia causes gums to be pale pink/whitish in colour
- Sudden anorexia
- Uremic breath
- Oral ulceration
- Seizures (end of disease)
How can your vet make a diagnosis?
In order to make the correct diagnosis on this disease, laboratory tests and a full clinical examination must be carried out by your vet. The examination carried out by the veterinary surgeon aids in recognizing dehydration, abnormal kidney size and even weight loss. Following this examination, the vet can carry out abdominal radiographs and abdominal ultrasonography. In some cases, microscopic evaluation of biopsies
Urinalysis – this aids in the identification of abnormal concentrations within the kidneys
Haematology and biochemistry – blood tests used to detect any elevation or depletion in the potassium phosphate, urea creatinine and electrolytes. Blood tests aid in determining the concentration of BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine
Blood pressure – This is highly important during the medical examination and for cats that display signs of hypertension
How to treat/reduce its progression
Unfortunately, renal disease cannot be cured, however it can be managed for your beloved furbabies. Treatment should address any underlying diseases which may contribute to the disease, this in turn can aid in reducing the diseases progression
The best form of treatment in order to slow its progression is through supportive methods such as hydration through fluid therapy, prescription diets, and relieving the animal of pain. It aids in decreasing potassium, rehydrates the patient and dilutes waste product build up reducing its acidity
Dietary management also aids in the treatment of this disease. Nutrition is of the utmost importance in playing a key role toward improving the quality of life and the life expectancy of these patients. These prescription diets include; modified protein, phosphorus and lipid concentrations. Considerations need to be made when using these diets, this includes ensuring that there is an adequate caloric intake within each portion
With a carefully managed diet, plenty of clean fresh water, a serene environment, and regular check-ups, you can help your cat live the most comfortable and best life possible.