A common problem with older cats is kidney disease. If treated early, your cat will have several years of good health. Severe cases can cause a cat to spiral into a terminal condition in a few months. If you notice that your cat is spending more time at the water dish than usual, take them to the pet hospital (such as Orange Grove Animal Hospital) for an examination. Here are other symptoms and some of the factors that contribute to a cat having kidney problems.
A Disease With Many Causes
The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and get rid of them through urine. In some cats, the tiny structures in the kidney that do the filtering stop working. The kidney can accommodate the loss of a few of these structures, but when a high percentage stop working, the kidney can't keep up with its job. Waste materials build up in the blood causing your cat to become ill.
The exact cause of this mechanism isn't known. Some poisons, such as anti-freeze, will destroy kidney cells. But in the healthy, older cat, kidney disease can just happen with no warning. A few other medical issues can bring on kidney disease, including:
- reduced immune system
- blood infection
- tumors and cancer cells
Symptoms of Possible Kidney Disease
The symptoms from kidney disease are due to the buildup of toxins in the blood. Other illnesses have the same symptoms, so at the first sign of these changes in your cat, take them into to your vet. Some of the common symptoms include:
- eating and drinking changes
- weight loss
- diarrhea or vomiting
- pain when urinating
- foul breath odor
Treatment of Kidney Disease
Since the cause is not known, treatment focuses on reducing the burden on the kidneys to save as many of the filtration structures as possible. If the kidney is beginning to fail, treatment also must help remove the toxins from the blood to prevent your cat from having some of the symptoms listed above.
Treatment of early kidney problems includes changing your cat's diet to one that produces less waste material to be removed from the blood. This allows the kidneys to not work as hard, saving wear and tear on the remaining kidney tissue. These diets control the amount of protein, phosphorus and sodium that your cat takes in to reduce the waste. If your cat is also drinking less water, the vet may suggest you give them a wet food so they get more water in their diet.
With a more advanced case of kidney disease, treatment will also include:
- medications to stimulate the kidney to produce more urine to flush more waste products out of the blood
- fluid therapy to prevent your cat from becoming dehydrated
These treatments will slow down, but not stop, the disease from affecting the function of the kidneys. You will need to watch for changes in your cat indicating the kidneys are getting worse. With treatment, though, your cat will continue to be your feline companion for many years.