Chronic kidney disease is when the kidneys gradually lose their ability to filter waste and start passing concentrated urine.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common condition in cats, but it can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys fail to filter waste products properly and can lead to various problems in your cat's body. While there isn't a cure for CKD, treatments available can make your pet feel better and help slow down the progression of the disease.
Let’s understand what causes it, how to detect it early, and what treatment options exist.
Reasons Cats Develop Kidney Disease
The most common cause of CKD in cats is chronic urinary tract infection. A UTI alone can be treated with pet medications containing antibiotics for cats, like Amoxicillin liquid or tablets with Clavulanic Acid or Clavamox for cats. But there are other reasons apart from the UTI. These include several factors, including age, diet, underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism, and certain medications.
Age And Genetics
Kidney disease occurs earlier in cats than in people, with the average onset between 7 and 10 years old. Both young and old cats can develop kidney disease. However, it is much less common for a cat younger than three years to grow CKD. Also, cats do not have any known genetic markers associated with this condition. Therefore, if your pet has been diagnosed with CKD, it's not due to any inherited trait.
Common Symptoms Of Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats
The most common symptoms of chronic kidney disease in cats are:
? Loss of appetite
? Increased thirst
? Weight loss, often caused by pseudo anorexia, can lead to deadly hepatic lipidosis
? Increased urination urge makes it essential to frequently have a clean cat litter box available for her. You can also have more than one cat litter box if required.
? Vomiting can be intermittent or continuous. If you think your cat has vomited recently, take note of when it happened, how much came up, and if any other symptoms were present.
It has been observed that the occurrence rate of typical clinical symptoms is: anorexia at 85%, lethargy at 60%, weight loss at 39%, and vomiting at 27%.
Diagnosing Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats
Diagnosing chronic kidney disease in cats can be tricky since no specific diagnostic tests exist. Instead, your veterinarian will use a combination of factors to assess kidney function and determine whether or not the disease has damaged your cat's kidneys.
Some standard tests you might hear about, such as bloodwork, urinalysis, and urine culture, can indicate the presence of kidney disease or its progression. But these tests aren't necessarily reliable. False positives may occur because other conditions can cause similar symptoms, while false negatives may result if your pet has not yet reached the stage of kidney failure where these symptoms show up.
A definitive diagnosis requires confirmation from multiple sources:
Physical exam findings like poor muscle tone or abdominal swelling;
Laboratory testing that shows changes in blood levels of certain chemicals found in healthy vs. diseased kidneys;
Imaging studies such as X-rays or ultrasound scans show structural changes within the organ itself; and
Response to pet medications such as antibiotics for cats when given specifically for treating UTIs caused by bacterial infections such as Cefpodoxime Proxetil.
Stages Of Kidney Disease In Cats
There are typically three stages in a case of CKD in cats, as follows:
The first stage of kidney disease is called glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The loss of nephrons characterizes this stage. When healthy, the kidneys filter blood to create urine that contains waste products like urea and creatinine and excess water from blood flow. As more nephrons fail to carry out this function, estimated GFR decreases.
Stage two of kidney disease comes with an abnormally low GFR and high blood pressure in cats. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are used to treat such issues, and Benazepril is a common choice among vets.
Cats who reach stage three are at risk for developing proteinuria, defined as excessive amounts of protein in the urine. It can lead to severe problems such as dehydration. This means that cats have trouble keeping themselves hydrated enough in this stage.
Treating Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats
Diet and water. The first step in controlling renal disease is maintaining a healthy diet, which includes lean protein and limited sodium. Natural Balance cat food or Blue Buffalo cat food can be good options. Research on seven cats having CKD for 28 days showed that food having betaine and prebiotics increases total body mass and reduces uremic toxins in the cat. It's also essential to keep your cat hydrated.
Exercise and blood pressure control. If you notice that your kitty isn't moving around as much as usual, this could indicate discomfort from their kidneys not working correctly, so make sure they get plenty of time outdoors.
Another essential thing is reducing stress so that your cat doesn't feel overwhelmed by everything around them.
Recently, a new treatment has been developed, whereby 30 cats who were injected with an Intra-renal injection of CXCL12 gave positive results. With Additional mechanistic and clinical evaluations, the same can be a revolutionary treatment for CKD in cats.
Other Conditions Associated With Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats
There could also be some more complications that can be associated with acute and chronic kidney disease in cats, which include:
Hyperthyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine, which increases metabolism and may lead to weight loss. A cat's heart rate and breathing rate also increase owing to this condition. Hills Prescription Diet might help you in controlling your cat’s thyroid.
Diabetes mellitus. The pancreas produces a chemical called insulin that helps glucose enter cells to provide energy for body processes. When a cat becomes diabetic, its pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. Therefore, it needs insulin for dogs and cats. It’s also essential to check her blood sugar levels regularly.
Chronic kidney disease is a severe condition that can lead to other health problems and even death. If you notice any signs of dehydration, weight loss, or lethargy in your cat, take her to the vet immediately. She may need additional tests to determine what’s causing the problem with her kidneys and how best to treat it.