Understanding Kidney Disease in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Does kidney disease occur in cats? Yes, we know it's a common condition, especially in older cats. So why do the kidneys become unable to function, let's briefly touch on this first.
The kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste products from the blood, maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, and producing hormones that regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production. When the kidneys are damaged or not working properly, waste products and toxins accumulate in the body, leading to various health problems.
Causes of Kidney Disease:
The two most common types of kidney disease in cats are chronic kidney disease (CKD) and acute kidney injury (AKI). CKD is a progressive and irreversible condition that can result from a variety of causes, including aging, genetics, infections, and exposure to toxins. AKI is a sudden and potentially reversible condition that can be caused by dehydration, urinary tract obstructions, infections, and certain medications.
How is it Diagnosed?
A veterinarian can diagnose kidney disease in cats through a combination of physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies such as x-rays and ultrasounds. These tests can help determine the extent of damage to the kidneys and the underlying cause of the disease.
While some factors that contribute to kidney disease in cats, such as genetics, cannot be controlled, there are steps you can take to help prevent kidney disease in your cat. These include providing fresh water at all times, feeding a balanced and quality diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and having regular checkups with a veterinarian.
Some cats are more prone to kidney disease than others. Older cats, male cats, and cats with a history of urinary tract infections or obstructions are at higher risk of developing kidney disease. Some cat breeds, such as Persians, Siamese, and Abyssinians, are also more prone to kidney disease.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats
Symptoms of kidney disease in cats can vary depending on the stage and severity of the disease. That said, let's share with you some common signs to watch out for.
Increased thirst and urination:
Cats with kidney disease may drink more water than usual and urinate more often or in larger amounts.
Cats with kidney disease may lose weight despite having a normal or increased appetite.
Cats with kidney disease may have a decreased appetite or lose interest in food altogether.
Vomiting and diarrhea:
Cats with kidney disease may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can result from a buildup of toxins in the body.
Drowsiness and weakness:
Cats with kidney disease may appear tired or weak and have less energy than usual.
Bad breath and mouth ulcers:
Cats with kidney disease may have bad breath and may develop mouth ulcers or sores.
Poor feather quality:
The coat of cats with kidney disease can be dull and unkempt due to lack of care.
Cats with kidney disease can become dehydrated, which can lead to dry gums, sunken eyes, and lethargy.
How to Treat Kidney Disease in Cats: Tips for Cat Owners
The treatment of kidney disease in cats depends on the severity of the disease and the underlying cause.
A special diet low in protein, phosphorus, and sodium can help reduce the workload on the kidneys and slow the progression of kidney disease. Your vet can recommend a prescription diet for your cat.
Cats with kidney disease may become dehydrated and develop electrolyte imbalances. Intravenous (IV) or subcutaneous (under the skin) fluid therapy can help restore hydration and balance electrolytes.
Your vet can prescribe medications to manage your cat's symptoms and support kidney function. Medications used to control blood pressure, manage nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite are common.
Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and probiotics can help support kidney function and improve overall health.
Treat underlying conditions:
If kidney disease is caused by an underlying condition such as a urinary tract infection or hypertension, treating the condition can help improve kidney function.
Regular veterinary checks:
Regular check-ups with your vet are essential to monitor your cat's kidney function and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
Managing kidney disease in cats can be a long-term commitment, but with proper care and treatment, many cats can still enjoy a good quality of life.
If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease, it's important to keep a close eye on her condition and report any changes or new symptoms to your veterinarian. Your vet may recommend regular blood and urine tests, blood pressure monitoring and other diagnostic tests to monitor your cat's kidney function and general health.
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