Chronic kidney disease (CKD) refers to the progressive and irreversible deterioration of kidney function over time and can be seen in cats of any age, but is most commonly seen in those over seven years, becoming increasingly common with age.
It has been estimated that between one in five and one in two cats over 15 years of age will have some degree of CKD present.
The kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste products from the blood, maintaining hydration, regulating electrolyte balance and producing hormones. When the kidneys become damaged or fail to function properly, it can lead to a range of health issues.
Early detection allows implementation of treatment and management plans to slow the inevitable progression of the condition.
With the threat of CKD increasing with age, it’s important to stay on top of the situation. We offer senior pet wellness checks to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help your pet remain healthy as they enter their golden years.
Causes of CKD in cats
While the exact cause of CKD is often unknown, several factors can contribute to the development of this condition, including:
- Age-related changes in the kidneys
- Genetic predisposition or congenital defects
- High blood pressure
- Infections of the urinary tract or kidneys
- Certain medications or toxins
- Other underlying health conditions like diabetes or hyperthyroidism
The above mentioned toxins or infections can also lead to a more sudden and severe illness referred to as acute kidney injury, which can occur at any age and requires rapid, intensive treatment.
If the cat recovers they will likely go on to experience CKD either immediately or at some stage in the future.
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Symptoms of CKD
CKD can manifest with various symptoms, which may include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased or decreased urine production
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Lethargy and weakness
- Bad breath
- Poor coat condition
If your cat is showing signs of CKD, book an appointment to see your vet.
Diagnosing CKD involves a combination of physical examination, blood tests, urine analysis, blood pressure and possibly imaging techniques such as ultrasound.
These diagnostic procedures help evaluate kidney function, identify the stage of the disease, and rule out other possible causes for the observed symptoms.
Any test results can then be used as a marker for future monitoring to assess progression of the condition.
Treatment and management
While CKD cannot be cured, early detection and appropriate management can significantly improve the quality of life for cats with this condition. Treatment options may include:
- Fluid therapy to correct dehydration and maintain hydration
- Prescription diets that are lower in protein, phosphorus and salt
- Medications to control blood pressure, reduce protein loss, stimulate appetite or manage complications, although these will not be appropriate in all cases
- Additional supplementation with phosphate binders reduce the absorption of phosphate from each meal which can protect the kidneys from further damage
- Regular veterinary check-ups including periodic urine analysis, blood tests and blood pressure measurement to monitor progression of the disease and evaluate effectiveness of current treatment
Home care and monitoring
As a cat owner, you play a vital role in managing your feline companion’s CKD.
Provide fresh water at all times to encourage hydration. Oral electrolyte liquids can also be given to aid this.
Follow your vet’s recommendations regarding prescription diets or specific nutritional requirements.
Administer medications as prescribed and report any adverse reactions or concerns promptly.
Keep a record of your cat’s weight, appetite, toilet habits and any changes in behaviour to share with your veterinarian during check-ups.
Create a quiet and comfortable environment for your cat, with easy access to litter boxes and food and water bowls.
Our senior pet wellness checks include a nurse-led appointment, urinalysis, blood tests and blood pressure measurement, and allow us to assess the health of your cat, while saving you up to £130 on the cost of the individual tests.