If you have a cat with chronic kidney disease (CKD) it can all be a bit daunting at first, not just for your feline friend but you too!
There’s an adjustment to make and it affects a wide range of cattish activities, from eating and drinking to the kinds of ongoing medical care they’re going to need.
But don’t fret! You’ll have your cattish overlord on frisky overdrive before you know it. You just need to be patient and take it step by step.
In this guide I’ll give you the basic info you’re going to need to keep your cat’s kidneys as functional as possible.
GET YOUR CAT DRINKING
There’s a reason this point is being included first. Water is utterly crucial for kidney management.
This isn’t probably that much of a surprise. The entire body begins to break down very quickly without water, and kidneys are particularly vulnerable when the body is dehydrated.
Before your cat gets a CKD diagnosis, it’s likely he or she will have become gradually run down. In almost all cases, they eat less and drink less.
You need to get your cat drinking good quantities of water again, and stat!
“But how!”, I hear some of you ask, and I get it! It’s hard to get your cat to do anything it doesn’t want to, and for whatever reason, cats are especially fussy when it comes to water and drinking.
If you can’t convince your cat to drink from a bowl no matter where you place it, try one of the following ideas.
“Hide” their water
So they want drink pure water from a bowl? In that case, stir it straight into their food.
If they turn their nose up at more watery food, another great option to try is to introduce a bit of (non-salted) broth to their meals.
The Old Ice Cube Trick
You’ve probably noticed that cats are insatiably curious. Anything different, they’re sooner or later going to want to inspect.
You can try to capitalize on this trait by dropping one or two ice cubes into their drinking bowl. After they’ve finished sniffing and pawing at the weird shiny creature floating in their bowl, they may well decide to grab a few gulps while they’re there.
If you just can’t get your cat to drink, you’ll definitely need to get to the vet quickly. Intravenous hydration may be the only option if your cat is severely dehydrated.
SHIFT TO THE RIGHT KIND OF DIET
The next step in helping keep your cat’s kidneys as safe as possible is to switch to a renal friendly diet.
Research indicates that a renal diet will double the lifespan of a cat with CKD. It will also greatly improve their quality of life.
So, what does a renal friendly diet look like?
Kidney-friendly foods are low in phosphorus (which the kidneys have to work hard to break down) and are rich in lean animal proteins. You can buy specialized kidney friendly foods and your vet will be able to point you in the right direction on that.
It’s important to fill you in a bit on the issue of proteins.
It used to be said that you should basically cut proteins down to a bare minimum. This is no longer thought to the the case. Reducing protein intake too far will quickly result in malnutrition and a swathe of related health complications.
It’s a matter of gradual adjustment. To get this right, the absolute best thing you can do is to work with your vet.
There’s also a range of medical treatments which can improve the condition of your kitty’s kidneys.
Proteinuria is a condition which often accompanies CKD. Essentially, it’s referring to the build-up of protein in your cats blood.
Medications for feline proteinuria do their job by limiting the flow of blood through the kidneys.
Typically, ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin II receptor blockers are prescribed for this purpose. These relax the blood vessel, thereby reducing the amount of water the kidney reabsorb.
Manage Blood Pressure
CKD frequently causes high blood pressure. High blood pressure places a strain throughout the whole body, and it needs to be managed to keep your cat’s condition as stable as possible.
Common symptoms of high blood pressure are lethargy or agitation. In extreme cases, high blood pressure can even lead to temporary or permanent blindness.
If your cat has high blood pressure, your vet will likely prescribe either ACE inhibitors or Amlopidine. Both these medications are good for the gentle management of blood pressure.
Keep an Eye on Phosphorus Levels
Damaged kidneys lose their ability to efficiently remove phosphorus from the bloodstream. As a result, levels can gradually rise to the point of being dangerous.
Adding to this problem, a typical cat diet is high in phosphorus! They need more of it than we humans.
Your vet may prescribe phosphorus-binding medications. These work by causing phosphorous to pass harmlessly out of the body.
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Anyway, that's the long and short of it! I hope you found the article useful - if you have any thoughts, make sure to comment below!