In veterinary medicine there are some diseases and problems that rear their ugly heads more often than others. When it comes to the feline species, it seems that the kidney is the Achilles tendon of the cat. Many, if not most, cats will have trouble with the kidneys as they age.
At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital we feel that it is important for our feline-loving pet parents to understand what kidney disease in cats looks like and how it can affect their feline friend.
The Almighty Kidney
The kidney is a very important organ and the cornerstone of the urinary tract system. Its primary responsibilities include filtering the blood, removing any toxins, as well as maintaining adequate hydration within the body.
From the kidneys urine is filtered down through the ureters into the urinary bladder, where it is held until the animal urinates.
Many things can affect the normal functioning of the kidney. Acute kidney disease can happen secondary to a toxin exposure, a blockage within the urinary tract, or even an infection.
In cats, however, many times kidney disease is a chronic condition. Normal wear and tear over time may result in reduced kidney function as. This can lead to:
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Weight loss
- Overall dullness
- Decreased grooming
- Digestive upset
The kidneys also play a primary role in some other basic body functions. As kidney disease progresses, patients may experience other complications such as anemia (low red blood cell count) or high blood pressure.
Most cats who are affected by chronic kidney disease are able to maintain function quite well. When they become dehydrated, though, such as during a period of illness or other life stressors, things can go downhill very quickly.
Kidney Disease in Cats
Early diagnosis and intervention is the most important way that we can help our feline patients. This is one reason that routine wellness visits and lab work are so very important, especially as pets age. If we can identify the issues before symptoms are apparent, we are often able to slow disease progression.
For cats with kidney issues, it becomes even more important to help maintain a good hydration status. Canned food, water fountains, and even sometimes subcutaneous fluid administration may be warranted.
Nutrition is also key. When our expert staff diagnoses a pet with chronic renal disease, often specific nutritional recommendations are made. Restricting nutrients such as phosphorus and delivering adequate calories have been shown to make a positive impact on pets with kidney issues.
It is also important for us to monitor your pet closely. Keeping close tabs on things like body weight, electrolyte levels, red blood cell counts, and blood pressure can help us to make sure that your pet is doing well and support overall functioning.
Kidney disease in cats is a common problem, but that doesn’t mean that affected cats can’t lead a good quality life once diagnosed. Working together as a team we are able to manage most cats and help them live a good quality life. Never hesitate to call us if you have questions, concerns, or need to talk about your cat’s health.