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Understanding Renal Failure in Cats

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Could My Cat Have Kidney Failure?

Renal failure can occur in cats of any age, although senior cats are at increased risk for chronic renal failure. For both acute and chronic renal failure, early diagnosis can make a significant difference for a cat's long-term health prognosis.

As a cat owner, look out for the following symptoms of kidney problems in your cats:
•    Increased water consumption and urination, or greatly reduced water consumption
•    Increased amount of urine in the litter box
•    Marked weight loss/loss of appetite
•    Vomiting

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from chronic or acute renal failure, contact your veterinarian. Your cat's life may depend upon it.

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Acute renal failure and chronic renal failure are two health problems that commonly affect cats. Acute renal failure can affect cats at any age; emergency care is essential to treating this condition and saving a cat’s life. Chronic renal failure typically occurs in senior cats. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, 49% of all cats over the age of 15 are affected by chronic renal disease. With the diagnosis of kidney problems and renal failure in cats increasingly common, it is essential that cat owners learn the symptoms of this disease and how best to manage the disease.

Kidneys play a critical role in day-to-day functions. The kidneys remove metabolic waste from the blood stream, and produce vital hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.  The kidneys follow a complex system for managing and regulating waste; when this system breaks down, severe complications may occur to a cat’s other organs that can ultimately lead to death.

Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure is caused by a blockage in the blood flow to the kidneys or the urine away from the kidneys, or due to damage to the kidney tissue itself.  The most common cause for acute renal failure is the ingestion of toxic substances such as antifreeze, anti inflammatory drugs, or lilies.  When acute renal failure is detected and treated early, a full recovery is possible.  Although many times the cat will have only a partial recovery from the acute crisis, and eventually go into chronic renal failure,

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is an incurable condition primarily affecting older cats. It is often the end-stage for other health problems, such as advanced dental disease or a kidney inflammation/obstruction. Thanks to veterinary care advancements, however, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is often possible to give the cat a good quality of life for many years.

Treatment for renal failure depends on the condition’s cause and severity. In the case of acute renal failure, if a kidney is blocked by an obstruction, it may be possible to surgically remove the blockage and correct the problem. For chronic renal failure, treatment focuses on diet, fluids, and medications to control secondary problems, such as high blood pressure and anemia that may occur.

There are many brands of diets made for kidney problems in the cat; all have a reduced amount of protein and phosphorus, and may have added potassium.  Talk to your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet.

The main treatment for both kinds of kidney failure is fluids.  Hospitalization with intensive fluid therapy is required for acute kidney failure, and often also used for the more severe stage of chronic.  Once the cat is stabilized, many veterinarians will have you give fluids subcutaneously at home.  They will teach you how to give the special fluid under the skin.  Cats are surprisingly tolerant of this.

Other medications may include appetite stimulants, stomach acid reducers such as Pepcid, phosphate binders, potassium supplements, and injectable erythropoietin, which is used to stimulate red blood cell production in the anemic cat.  It is very common for cats with kidney problems to have high blood pressure, and therefore need hypertension medication.  
While kidney problems are very common in they cat, the disease can often be managed well for many years.

Sources:

American Association of Feline Practitioners, “Feline Chronic Renal Disease.”

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Diagnosis: Kidney Disease.”

Pet emergency? Call us right away at 780-872-7387! 

Welcome to the Southside Veterinary Clinic! We offer a comfortable and home-like atmosphere to welcome you and your pet. We are a full service, small animal clinic, dedicated to the health of your dogs, cats, and other wonderful pets. 

To allow us to serve you better, we ask that you phone us at 780-872-PETS (7387) or click on the "Request Appointment" link above to make an appointment for your pets prior to coming in.  This helps us ensure that there is a veterinarian available to help you without delay. If it is an emergency during business hours, if possible please call to let us know that you are on your way into the clinic and the nature of the emergency. We may need to prepare for your arrival or direct you to our partner clinic, Lloydminster Animal Hospital, for further diagnostics, treatment or intensive care. Our goal is to provide your pet with the best possible care! 

Should you have an emergency or require veterinary care outside of regular hours, you can reach an on-call veterinarian 24 hours daily by calling Southside Veterinary Clinic.

**All after hours calls will be seen at Lloydminster Animal Hospital.

That hospital is located at 6002 50th Avenue, Lloydminster, AB.

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