By Dr Phil Sacks
Kidney failure is a very common problem in older cats. As a veterinarian in private practice explaining the cause, prognosis and treatment and possible prevention of kidney disease is an every day occurrence. To start all pets should see a veterinarian at least once a year for a general clinical examination. The clinical examination would include dental examinations, eye exam, and general “feel” of the coat and cats condition – discussion of cats’ diet – appropriate to your felines activity and age and health status. This should be your source of information for your cats well being. For those owners who vaccinate their own cats or owners, who do not believe in vaccinating, your pet should still visit the veterinarian. A cat can not verbalize its feelings and I feel that is part of the veterinarian’s service.
What is a Kidney?
The kidney is an organ of the body involved in many complex functions crucial to life. The working of a kidney are amazingly complex .we rely on these complex interactions to work if we are to live. The kidneys produce urine by filtering blood, and then modifying the filtered blood to by adding waste products and reabsorbing molecules & water needed.
When more than 75% of both kidneys are damaged, laboratory signs of renal failure set in. The waste products are not lost in the urine and build up in the blood. They are toxic and cause the typical signs of chronic renal failure.
Some clinical signs of renal disease in cats:
Anemia – due to decreased kidney production of a hormone that is needed for red blood cells to be produced
Depression, anorexia, vomiting – due to the urea and other toxins in massively high concentrations
Weight loss – due to protein loss, that is filtered and lost in the urine in excessive amounts. The muscle wasting and emaciation is a consequence of this
Acidodsis – the cat blood becomes to acid, the blood pH is kept at about 7.4. With kidney failure, bicarbonate is lost and the cat becomes to “acid”. (And as with a swimming pool) your veterinarian may treat your pet with bicarbonate or potassium nitrate.
Excessive drinking and urinating to try and restore fluid and electrolyte balance
High blood phosphate – as the kidney is filtering less. This leads to major metabolic disturbances.