If you have or have known an elderly cat, you will know that they make excellent companions. Unfortunately, with age comes some additional health concerns. Kidney disease affects 3 out of every 10 geriatic cats. It is important to recognize the signs of chronic kidney disease early in order to best help your beloved feline friend.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Your kitty’s kidneys perform the same functions that ours do: remove waste from the bloodstream, balance various minerals, and conserve water. They are integral to the production of healthy urine. Therefore, kidney disease can lead to a buildup of unwanted waste in the body. Chronic kidney disease refers to prolonged renal failure over the course of several months or even years.
How Can I Detect It?
The first signs of chronic kidney disease are extremely subtle. Usually, a cat in the earliest stages will experience increased thirst and urination. If you use clumping litter, look for large clumps. This indicates that your cat is expelling more urine at a single time. Early kidney disease may also manifest in a slight loss of weight. You may also notice some behavioral changes such as extra sleeping, appearing weak or indifferent, and less grooming. As a result, kitties with chronic kidney disease usually appear more unkempt.
As renal function continues to weaken, signs become a bit more obvious. Water consumption and frequent/heavy urination will increase, with a possibility for bloody or cloudy urine. Cats with kidney disease may experience digestive problems such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Their coat will likely feel dry to the touch. In some cases, cats may have particularly bad breath or discoloration of the mouth.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you notice your cat exhibiting these signs, a vet visit is in order. Keep in mind that kidney disease can also be detected at regular check ups, so it is always a good idea to schedule these for your elderly cat. Diagnosis usually starts with blood and urine tests. These may be followed by a variety of tests, including ultrasounds and X-rays. If your vet finds kidney disease, they can help you decide on the best treatment for your specific case.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but there are ways to manage it. This usually includes some level of diet modification. Therapeutic diets include lower levels of phosphorus and sodium, with increased fiber and water-soluble vitamins. However, because cats are rather finicky about their food, make sure to transition their diet gradually. Cats with chronic kidney disease should also be drinking lots of water to expel waste buildup. Some owners find water fountains or other innovative drinking receptacles helpful. Finally, in some cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics or other medications.
Claws N Paws Day Spa has your pet’s best interests in mind. Located in sunny Fountain Valley, California, we provide high-quality professional dog and cat grooming for your best furry friend. Contact us at 714-962-1005 or visit our location for more information or to make an appointment.