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Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

What is it and what are the important things to know?

  • It is a persistent loss of kidney function over time
  • It takes at least 75% loss of kidney function before we see signs
  • Damage to kidneys is irreversible
  • Early detection important in order to provide good quality of life
  • Similar symptoms to diabetes and hyperthyroidism

What do the kidneys do?

  • Filter blood and make urine (excrete waste and extra fluid from the body)

What are the symptoms I will see?

  • Lethargic (lack of energy, sleeping more, weakness)
  • Weight-loss
  • Increase in drinking and urination
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Bad breath/sore mouth

What is happening internally?

  • High blood pressure
  • Increase of protein in urine
  • Increase of phosphorus in blood
  • Low red blood cell levels
  • Potassium imbalance (starts out low, then goes high)
  • Metabolic acidosis (body acid level too high; the blood pH is too low)
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to filter toxins/toxin elevation

What causes it/what are some predispositions?

  • Cats age 7 or older are considered high risk
  • Diets high in phosphorus and/or protein
  • Specific breeds (Persians, Himalayans, other exotic long-haired breeds)
  • Toxicity (disinfectants, antifreeze, lead paint, some human medications)

How is it diagnosed and what are the tests that are done?

Blood tests

  • Blood urea nitrogen and creatinine
  • Electrolytes (sodium and potassium)
  • Red blood cell count
  • Protein level

Urine tests

  • Concentration of urine
  • pH and protein levels
  • Presence of red blood cells or other cells
  • Culture for bacteria

Is there treatment, and what does it do?

Treatments:
1. Regular administration of subcutaneous or intravenous fluids
2. Kidney-specific diets and medication

Treatments are used to:

  • Controls blood pressure
  • Decreases presence of protein in urine
  • Decreases phosphate levels
  • Increases production of red blood cells
  • Supplements potassium and antioxidants
  • Helps the kidneys to filter toxins and regulate toxin levels

 

Written by Tamara Tupper, RVT

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