What do kidneys do?
Kidneys filter the blood and excrete waste products into the urine. They produce hormones for new red blood cell production (Erythropoeiten). They help control blood pressure. They retain water in the body and help keep electrolytes balanced.
What is chronic renal disease insufficiency?
It is a slowly progressive disease that shows little obvious sign until the later stages. It particularly affects older cats, from middle-age onwards and occurs when areas of the kidneys slowly become damaged and die.
What causes chronic renal insufficiency in cats?
Many things can impact on your cat’s health throughout its life which can affect kidney health. These include infections, inflammation, toxins which damage the kidney, urinary obstructions, cancers and some congenital conditions such as renal cysts.
What are the signs of chronic renal insufficiency?
In the early stages there may be very few signs. As the disease progresses, the kidneys lose the ability to excrete waste products and to retain body fluid. These signs can include:
increased thirst
excessive urination
weight loss
poor coat condition
general weight loss for no apparent reason
poor appetite
ulcers in mouth.
How is it diagnosed?
Usually a physical examination followed by blood and urine tests are sufficient to diagnose the disease; sometimes more detailed testing including ultrasound and biopsies are required to rule out other diseases such as kidney tumours.
How is it treated?
There is no cure but treatment can help to slow the progress and prolong your cat’s life and maintain a good quality of life. This can be very helpful if we detect the disease early on.
It is very important that your cat has access to fresh clean water.
Diets can be changed, especially by introducing a low protein diet – there are now a number of different dry and canned low protein diets on the market. If your cat won’t eat these as sole diets, they can be incorporated as part of the diet.
Cats with kidney failure often have hypertension or high blood pressure; this can be measured and medication to help control this can be instituted. Your cat’s blood pressure can then be monitored on an ongoing basis.
In more advanced stages, anabolic steroids, medications to control elevated phosphorus and medications to control vomiting may be required. Also in severe cases, your cat may need hospitalisation and intravenous fluid therapy.
If you have concerns that your cat may have some signs of renal disease, please either ring to discuss the condition with one of the vets or arrange an appointment for a checkup.