Feline Kidney Disease
The following article is from Dr. Karen Becker, Holistic Veterinarian whom DeAnimal Saver highly respects.
Proper Nutrition for Cats with Chronic Kidney Failure:
if your cat is eating human-grade protein, then protein restriction is often counterproductive and actually exacerbates problems of weight loss and cachexia (muscle wasting) — two common health issues for cats with failing kidneys. Many veterinarians will suggest a prescription dry food diet for kidney disease, but I absolutely recommend against this as well. Unless a prescription dry food is the only food your cat will consume, I don’t recommend you feed prescription dry kidney diets.
Cats with renal disease do best eating high-quality human grade canned food or a fresh, balanced homemade diet. Cats with the disease still eating kibble should be transitioned if at all possible to a diet that provides much more moisture to help nourish the kidneys. Most importantly, cats with kidney disease must continue to eat. Unlimited access to fresh water should always be provided.
Additional Help for Kitty Kidney Patients
There are a variety of other therapies that can be helpful depending on your pet’s symptoms. High blood pressure may need to be controlled. Anemia may need to be addressed. And sometimes certain medications must be given to alleviate GI symptoms.
Vitamins and minerals can sometimes be beneficial. I often add a variety of the B-vitamins to a cat’s sub-Q fluids. B-vitamins can help with anemia, improve a cat’s overall feeling of well-being, and also help with nausea. I use a probiotic specially formulated for kidney support called Azodyl.
Standard Process Feline Renal Support can also be beneficial, as well as phosphorous binders and sodium bicarbonate, if appropriate. Your veterinarian will help you decide if these are indicated or not based on what your pet’s specific situation is. Making your cat’s environment as stress-free as possible is also really important. There are several articles on my site about how stress affects kitties. And certainly, how to create a stress-free environment for your kitty with kidney disease is important.
Kidney dialysis is sometimes available from large teaching colleges with appropriate facilities. Kidney transplants are incredibly rare, but they are also available under certain conditions. They’re only offered at a handful of teaching hospitals or referral veterinary centers. Transplants cost thousands of dollars and medication must be given long-term to prevent rejection. These drugs obviously have a number of potentially serious side effects, so these cases have to be very carefully managed.
Donors for kidney transplants are found at shelters through compatibility testing. When a match is located, a kidney from the shelter kitty is transplanted into the cat with renal failure. The owner of the cat with renal failure must adopt the donor kitty. So in exchange for donating a kidney, the shelter kitty is provided a forever home. Obviously, both dialysis treatment and transplantation are options of last resort and can be entirely inappropriate for many kitties.
A Final Word on the Epidemic of Feline Kidney Disease
Since kidney disease is a leading cause of death for housecats but not for wild cats, we must ask why feline renal failure in domestic cats is at epidemic proportions. In my opinion, feeding high-quality protein in its natural, unadulterated form as soon as a kitten is weaned means that cat will have a moisture-dense diet over a lifetime. This takes an enormous amount of stress off the kidneys and supports those thousands of important nephrons I discussed earlier.
Feeding kitties over-processed dry food for a lifetime will absolutely increase kidney stress. A combination of dry processed diets, toxins in the environment, poor water quality, inbreeding, and too many vaccines makes kidney disease inevitable for today’s housecats.
In my opinion, the very best approach to preventing or managing kidney disease is vigilant monitoring of organ systems. This way you can identify risks and subtle changes long before kidney failure occurs. Many cats live full and very happy lives when this disease is identified early and managed very proactively.
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