HELP! My cat's been diagnosed with kidney disease.. Now what?
Hearing that your little one has been diagnosed with kidney disease may be one of the scariest things in the world.
Our pets are our babies.. Our partners.. Our life-long companions, and we want them to be happy and healthy for as long as they live.
Kidney disease, also known as renal failure, is the most common medical disease affecting cats.. and today, we're here to make sense of it all.
Keep reading to learn more about the disease - its causes, effects, and what you can do to improve the quality of life for your beloved feline friend.
What is kidney disease in cats?
Kidney disease in cats, is a disease that affects.. Well you guessed it - the kidneys.
Cat’s kidneys are composed of these teeny, tiny nephrons that work to remove waste products from the bloodstream, and deposit them outside of the body through the urinary tract.
When kidney disease develops, nephrons begin to deteriorate, and lose their ability to efficiently clean the blood. Toxins build up, and when waste accumulates, cats may experience nausea, vomiting, and/or dehydration.
Toxin build up may also lead to problems with blood pressure, and/or red blood cell production.
How many types of feline kidney disease are there?
There are two types of feline kidney disease: acute kidney disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Both involve a loss of kidney function, but differentiate in onset and duration.
Acute kidney disease typically results from an abrupt, or severe injury to the kidneys, whereas chronic kidney disease often results from a combination of things like genetic predispositions, aging, and environmental and individual factors.
Chronic kidney disease is lifelong, whereas acute kidney disease is short-term (although it can become chronic, depending on the cause, severity, and initial course of action).
Keep in mind that once the disease becomes chronic, there is no cure - only treatments designed to relieve discomfort, and potentially slow the progression, thus extending your little ones life. So, prevent first.. but TREAT second!
How did my cat get kidney disease?
Rest assured, you are not the world's worst pet owner.
Since the disease is so widespread and varied, it’s often difficult to pinpoint a single contributing factor (and more often than not, there’s many).
According to Dr. Celeste Clements, the 10 most common causes of feline kidney disease are: an infection of kidney tissues, kidney stones, kidney blockages, toxins, damage to kidney tubules, FIP, cancer, protein problems, and/or genetics.
How long will my pet live after their diagnosis?
This one’s tricky, because.. It depends. And it depends on a lot, actually.
Is it chronic? Is it acute? How far into the diagnosis are we? What may have caused it? How severe is the damage? And what can I do to contribute to my cat's wellbeing?
Luckily, kidney disease isn’t in-and-of-itself an immediate death sentence. In fact, it’s known to be a progressive, and highly variable disease among cats.
Discussing with your vet, and understanding where your pet is in the process though, will always give you the best insight into where things are at.
Your vet will likely perform a series of blood tests, physical examinations, and urinalyses to further make appropriate recommendations regarding treatment options.