In the UK, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is thought to affect 1% of patients registered to a veterinary practice at any one time. The frequency of CKD is much higher in older cats and is estimated to affect 30% of cats over the age of fifteen years.
Although chronic kidney disease is a progressive disease, with appropriate care and commitment you can help your cat to live a happy life – often for many years. While all cases vary in the level of care required, learning about CKD will help you to adjust with your cat’s diagnosis and in turn be able to support them accordingly.
What is kidney disease?
Kidney disease (also known as renal / kidney failure ) is the term used when kidney function is no longer able to meet the body’s demands. Kidney disease is a broad term which covers cats in all stages of renal disease – from those that have no health implications through to those with significant problems as a result of their illness.
What do normal kidneys do?
Like humans, cats have two kidneys, a left and a right, which are located in the abdomen.
Normal kidneys are vital for maintaining good health and vital bodily functions including:
- Excretion of waste products via the urine. Waste products include Urea and Creatinine which are a result of Protein breakdown.
- Regulation of hydration status
- Regulation of levels of blood salts
- Production and regulation of a number of hormones and other substances. For example Erythopoietin – a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow.
What are the signs of chronic kidney disease?
Clinical signs vary between cats but commonly include:
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss
- Reduced appetite
- Increased urination
- Anaemia (Low red blood cell count)
- High blood pressure
How is kidney disease diagnosed?
There are a variety of different ways your Vet will diagnosis and stage CKD but mostly commonly this will include a quick blood test and collection of a urine sample.
How can I help my cat with CKD?
Treatment varies greatly according to the cat’s individual needs and your Vet will be able to provide the best treatment for your cat. However there are things you can do at home to help your feel more comfortable.
- Dietary management – Specific diets have been shown to dramatically improve the quality of life of cats with CKD, your veterinary practice will be able to advise the most suitable diet for your cat.
- Adding liquid to the food to make it softer.
- Grooming and sitting with your cat whilst feeding.
- Ensuring water supplies are always easily accessible to your cat – for example on every floor of the house.
- Try experimenting with various sizes and shapes of water bowls, some cats prefer running water so you may find a cat water fountain is most appealing.
- Lethargic cats may not groom themselves as well, regularly grooming and ensuring they are clean can help them to feel better in themselves.
- Regular veterinary check ups. It is advised that a cat with CKD visits your Veterinary Surgeon every 3 months, a veterinary examination is the best way of detecting changes which may not be obvious at home. At these appointments weight, blood pressure plus numerous other factors can be monitored.
Although the prognosis of chronic kidney disease is case dependent, many cats continue happily and comfortably for years after diagnosis. With appropriate monitoring and assistance, care of affected cats at home can be very rewarding and is essential to ensure your cat has the best quality of life for as long as possible.
If you are planning a holiday you can rest assured that your cat will be in safe hands with one of our experienced cat sitters, that offer both feeding and live in services. If your cat is on medication after diagnosis, we will ensure you have a sitter who is experienced and competent in that service. Ensuring peace of mind both you and your cat.