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Learn about chronic kidney disease in cats

chronic kidney disease in cats
chronic kidney disease in cats

What does my cat's kidney do?


The kidney has many functions. Their main role is to remove waste products from the blood, regulate the content of certain essential minerals such as potassium and sodium, save water and produce urine.


What is chronic renal failure? Is it the same as chronic kidney disease?


The kidney has a large number of free functions to perform its various functions, so at least two-thirds (67% to 70%) of the kidneys must be dysfunctional to see clinical symptoms. In many cases, this means that damage to the kidneys has occurred for months or years (chronic) until significant failure occurs. Chronic renal failure (CRF) or chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major problem in adult cats. Only about 10% of cases occur in cats under 3 years of age.

"Kidney damage has occurred for months or years (long term) before the failure becomes apparent"

Signs of Chronic Kidney Failure in a Cat:


Often, as you age, the first signs of illness, such as weight loss and poor jacket quality, usually do not appear. In the early stages of renal failure, the kidneys will not be able to effectively eliminate waste by excreting it at lower concentrations and in larger volumes. Cats often drink more water to make up for increased water loss in the body. This is called compensated renal failure. After about two-thirds of renal tissue failure, the amount of waste in the blood increases rapidly, and serious illnesses are apparently sudden.


What is the reason for IRC?


IRC is the final stage of several different disease processes, not a specific disease. Illnesses or conditions that may eventually cause IRC include:

1. Congenital kidney malformations, such as polycystic kidney disease in long-haired cats.
2. Glomerulonephritis: inflammation and damage to the renal filtration membrane.
3. Pyelonephritis-bacterial infection of the kidneys
4. Amyloidosis:  This is the accumulation of an abnormal protein in the kidneys that prevents the kidneys from functioning properly. 
5. Tumors: Several tumors of the kidney, the most common being  lymphosarcoma.
6. Kidney stones or ureteral stones.
7. Viral infections, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIP)


Diagnosis:


Kidney disease is usually diagnosed by looking at the levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine and the specific gravity of the urine (USpG) in the bloodstream. Micro albuminuria (or the presence of small protein molecules in urine) is another indicator of CRF. Tests that measure blood levels of other substances (such as protein, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium) and other red and white blood cell counts are important to determine the degree of renal failure and the best treatment options.


Can kidney failure be diagnosed before?


Until recently, early diagnosis of chronic kidney failure was very difficult. Until severe renal function loss occurred, there were no obvious clinical signs of renal failure and an increase in BUN and creatinine. A recently developed blood test has been used to assess the level of SDMA (the natural biological indicator of kidney function) to determine if early renal failure has occurred. The SDMA concentration exceeded the normal reference range before serum creatinine increased. This will help your veterinarian to treat your cat early in the disease.

chronic kidney disease in cats

Determine the degree of renal failure in the cat:


Your veterinarian will use the IRIS (International Kidney Rights Association) staging system. IRIS staging is based on serum creatinine levels, followed by staging based on the presence of protein in the urine and measuring cat blood pressure. By using this staging, your veterinarian has a better understanding of how to treat, monitor progress, and estimate the prognosis of your pet.


The effect of CRF on my cat:


Because the kidneys perform a variety of functions, the clinical signs of kidney failure may vary. The most common changes observed were weight loss, poor hair quality, bad breath (bad breath), and loss of appetite (probably related to ulcers, lethargy, and depression). Less common signs include increased alcohol or urine intake, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia.


Treatments available:


The treatment of CRF depends on the results of blood tests, and specific treatments are designed to address specific abnormalities. Diet changes in most cats, including supplements and one or two other treatments, are effectively managed. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best treatment for your cat.

"There are different treatments, and most cats' diet changes can be effectively treated, including supplements and one or two other treatments"
  • Special diets: Low-protein and low-phosphorus diets help reduce levels of waste in the blood. These can be prepared at home or according to your veterinarian.

  • Antibiotics: Although the cause of cats is not always clear, many cats seem to respond well to antibiotics. Cats with CRF are more prone to bladder infections, so many patients are advised to perform routine urine cultures.

  • Phosphate binders: Although the diet is low in phosphate, some cats have blood phosphorus levels that are higher than normal. Reducing phosphorus in the blood has an important role in improving cat health and slowing disease progression. Oral phosphate binders (such as aluminum hydroxide) help reduce the amount of phosphorus absorbed through the intestinal wall.

  • Potassium supplementation: Cats with kidney failure often lose too much potassium in their urine. This results in muscle weakness, stiffness and poor hair quality. Low potassium levels can also lead to worsening kidney failure.

  • Vitamins B and C: When kidney failure fails to concentrate urine, these water-soluble vitamins are lost, and sick cats need supplements every day.

  • Antiemetics: For cats experiencing vomiting, using antiemetics (anti-vomiting mediation) reduces nausea and improves appetite.

  • Drugs that lower blood pressure: A large number of cats with kidney dysfunction have high blood pressure, which can cause further kidney damage. In some cases, it may be necessary to lower blood pressure.

  • Treatment of anemia: The kidneys begin to produce red blood cells in the bone marrow. Due to lack of bone marrow stimulation, many cats with CRF are anemic. New drugs have been developed to help stimulate bone marrow production and can be prescribed to cats.

How long can a cat live with chronic kidney disease?


Unfortunately, once the kidneys are damaged, their ability to recover is very limited. However, with proper management, most CRF cases progress very slowly. With treatment, your cat can have years of premium quality and have an active life.

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