Cats may be pretty good about keeping their problems hidden, but despite their best efforts, it isn’t always possible. And sometimes, it can actually make things worse!
One example of this commonly encountered at The Pets Place Animal Hospital is renal dysfunction. Many cats suffer from decreased kidney function but are able to keep things under wraps until it has progressed to the point that they can no longer compensate.
Feline kidney disease is one example of why being a vigilant pet owner is so very important.
Most people have some idea about what our kidneys do. While they are primarily responsible for producing urine, they really are vital in so many more body functions. A normal kidney:
Filters waste compounds and toxins from the body
Conserves or eliminates water based on hydration
Aids in balancing calcium and phosphorus (essential for normal bones and tissues)
Maintains sodium and potassium balance (vital for muscle and cell function)
Regulated blood pressure
Stimulates red blood cell production
Keeps the body’s pH in balance
Without appropriate kidney function, major consequences can ensue. Cats who are affected by feline kidney disease often experience increased thirst and urination and dehydration. They may also have muscle wasting and weight loss, decreased appetite, and can suffer from high blood pressure, low potassium, and/or anemia.
Feline kidney disease can occur for many reasons. Kidney infection (pyelonephritis), toxin exposure, and urinary blockage can certainly result in sudden, or acute, renal failure.
More commonly feline renal disease is chronic, with long-term wear and tear or underlying congenital or genetic changes affecting function.
By the time most owners realize that their cat is losing weight, drinking a lot, urinating more, and not eating, often kidney disease is fairly advanced. This makes it very important to allow our doctors to see your pet often for wellness examinations. This, along with screening blood work, allows us to detect changes much earlier in their course.
While we can’t cure feline kidney disease, if we identify it is there soon enough, there are some things that we can do to help our patients live longer and better. Cornerstones of treatment include:
Re-establishing hydration and flushing the body of toxin buildup through intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy.
Providing a long-term prescription renal diet formulated to support kidney function.
Supporting appetite with anti-nausea medications and appetite stimulation as appropriate.
Looking for and treating sequelae such as hypertension, anemia, and low potassium levels.
If your cat is diagnosed with feline kidney disease, it is important that we work together as a team to keep your pet feeling as well as possible.
Kidney disease in cats is not a fun diagnosis, but it is one that we can often manage with a little care and effort. It is also important to remember that because our cat companions do not often tell us everything that many disease processes and problems can appear similarly on the surface. Proper diagnosis thorough veterinary examination, blood work, and urine testing is key to treating your pet appropriately.
If you think that your cat may be suffering from kidney problems, or if it’s just been a while since we have seen you, call us right away to schedule a trip. We are standing by to help you and all of your critters.