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Visit the Pet Video Library Story at-a-glance - Chronic kidney disease means the kidneys are gradually and irreversibly deteriorating. This condition is a leading cause of death in domestic cats and is very common in older cats and certain breeds.
There are several known triggers for kidney failure, but often no precise cause is identified. Since the kidneys perform so many vital functions in the body, the symptoms of disease are wide-ranging and affect many organ systems. When feline kidney disease is diagnosed, it is also staged according to its severity, with stage 1 the mildest form and stage 4 the most severe.
Treatment depends on the severity of disease. The best way to prevent and manage chronic kidney disease in cats is to feed a moisture-dense, species-appropriate diet for life, along with vigilant monitoring of organ systems to identify risks and subtle changes as they arise.
Becker Today I want to discuss chronic kidney disease in cats. Chronic kidney disease is also called chronic renal disease and chronic renal failure. It means the kidneys have been gradually and irreversibly deteriorating over a period of months or years. Chronic renal failure is unfortunately extremely common in older domestic cats and is a leading cause of death in kitties.
Certain breeds of cats seem predisposed to developing chronic kidney disease, including the Maine coon, Abyssinian, Persian, Siamese, Russian blue, and Burmese. Elderly cats usually develop some degree of kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease tend to go hand in hand in many aging kitties.
How the Kidneys Start to Fail The kidneys are made up of thousands of microscopic funnel-shaped tubes called nephrons.
The job of nephrons is to filter and reabsorb fluids. In young healthy animals, there are so many nephrons available that some are held in reserve. As the cat ages or in cases of kidney damage, some nephrons stop functioning and the reserve nephrons take over and start functioning for them.
With no nephrons left in reserve, as damage to the kidneys progresses, signs of chronic kidney disease will start to appear. Because of the system of reserve nephrons, there are no signs of kidney insufficiency until the damage is really significant.
When two thirds of the nephrons are lost, the kidneys will no longer be able to conserve water, and the cat will pass larger amounts of dilute urine. Causes of Kidney Damage Causes of chronic kidney disease include malformation of the kidneys at birth, congenital polycystic kidney disease, chronic bacterial infections of the kidneys, high blood pressure, immune system disorders such as systemic lupus, exposure to toxins, an acute kidney episode that can damage the organs and lead to a chronic kidney problem, chronic urinary tract obstruction, and certain drugs, especially the NSAIDs non-steroidal anti-inflammatories as well as some nephrotoxic antibiotics.
There are some infectious disease like FIV and feline leukemia that can damage kidneys. Other causes are heavy metal exposure, abdominal trauma, and possibly diabetes. What the Kidneys Do and Symptoms of Malfunction As blood travels through the kidneys, they perform an intricate filtering job that removes waste materials from the blood and keeps the good substances like serum proteins in the bloodstream.
The kidneys also regulate the amount of water in the blood. Kidneys help to maintain healthy blood pressure by regulating sodium. They also regulate calcium and vitamin D. In addition to all that, the kidneys also secrete a hormone called erythropoietin that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
Because the kidneys have so many jobs to do, there are many symptoms of kidney disease, and they can actually be quite variable from one cat to another. They can be subtle and progress slowly, or they can be severe and appear quite suddenly.
Symptoms of failing kidneys can include increased thirst and urination, leaking urine especially at nightvomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, depression, anemia, and overall body weakness.
Other less common signs of kidney disease can be fractures resulting from weakened bones, high blood pressure that can lead to sudden blindness, itchy skin, bleeding into the stomach, bruising of the skin, and even oral ulcers.
Diagnosing Chronic Kidney Disease Most of the symptoms of chronic kidney disease are also present in other diseases, which makes accurate diagnosis really important. Routine blood work can detect a chronic kidney problem at an early stage another reason that I recommend twice-yearly wellness exams.
For cats seven and older, tests for kidney function should be performed at least annually. At my practice, I recommend every six months. And really I never cease to be amazed at the number of cats that have notable changes in their organ function, when only six months previously, things appeared on paper to be just fine.Ruminations, ramblings, and rants about narcissism and trauma, politics, human nature, religion, and almost everything else.
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