One recent study revealed troubling statistics: more than 60 percent of senior cats (10 years of age and older) and about 80 percent of geriatric cats (15 to 20 years old) have been diagnosed with CKD. For most cats, the underlying cause of the disease is unknown, but the reasons for onset can include kidney stones, bacterial infections, poison, cancer, and genetic abnormalities.
The disease often sneaks up on cats and the signs the disease is present are so subtle a cat parent may not even notice them. By the time more obvious symptoms do appear, damage to the kidneys has already begun. Early signs of a problem typically include weight loss, frequent urination, and an increase in thirst.
As the disease progresses, symptoms become more pronounced. Other signs include:
A cat’s kidneys filter impurities in the blood, regulate blood pressure, make hormones, and stimulate the bone marrow to create more red blood cells. When kidneys fail to do their job due to disease, a cat’s bloodstream becomes flooded with waste products and other compounds, his blood pressure increases, and he becomes anemic, all of which result in a multisystem impact.
Once the disease begins to affect the body’s organs and systems, symptoms emerge, and cat parents respond with a trip to the vet. To diagnose CKD, the vet conducts blood tests and urine analysis.
Treatment typically includes medication for symptom relief and dietary modification to help slow the disease progression. Your cat’s treatment plan might include additives like phosphate binders, potassium and iron supplements, ACE-inhibitors, and nausea drugs to address issues such as low potassium levels, high phosphate levels, high blood pressure, and vomiting.
Under the direction of a vet, here’s how you can help manage your cat’s CKD:
Be sure your cat is having routine screenings every year, especially if your cat is over the age of seven. If caught early, the disease can be slowed and managed well for the best outcome. Although there is no cure for CKD, you can help your cat enjoy his best life possible with proper care and management.