Kidney Disease in Cats

              kidney failure blog

Henry here, it has been some time since my last blog but today with the help of Dr. Albers I would like to discuss a very important matter. This is a disease that affects dogs and cats, though cats are more likely to be diagnosed than dogs.  This can affect cats regardless if they are indoor or outdoor. This is kidney disease; kidney disease is 7 times more common in cats than in dogs—one in every 12 geriatric cats is diagnosed. Cats diagnosed in the early stages of the disease live an average of 2-3 years, whereas cats diagnosed in the later stages live fewer than 6 months on average. Additionally, 29% of cats with kidney disease have periodontal disease, a possible contributing factor to the condition.

Untreated kidney infections such as pyelonephritis can also contribute to kidney failure. Like most diseases in cats, pyelonephritis can be almost silent until it is much progressed. Early signs may be as subtle as a few ounces of weight loss.

In the early stages, kidney disease can be a silent killer. By the time a cat shows obvious symptoms of kidney disease (weight loss, vomiting, decreased appetite, drinking and urinating more), a significant amount of kidney function has already been lost. In addition, the kidneys make some of the factors responsible for maintaining normal blood pressure. Left untreated, most cats with kidney disease will develop hypertension.

Another major contributing factor to kidney failure is hyperthyroidism. The thyroid can be thought of as the pacemaker of the body. When it is overactive, as in hyperthyroidism, it tells the other organs of the body to work much harder and faster than they should. As a result, heart failure, hypertension, and kidney failure are commonly associated with untreated hyperthyroidism.

The good news about hyperthyroidism is that it is relatively easy to detect by taking a blood and urine sample. It is also very treatable. Hyperthyroidism in cats in single cat households can usually be controlled by exclusively feeding an iodine restricted diet.  When dietary control isn’t an option, most hyperthyroidism can be controlled by the administration of either twice-daily pills or liquid. Although more expensive, cats can also be treated by an injection of iodine 131 that decreases the overactive thyroid function without using pills or a special diet.  Hypertension may resolve once the thyroid function goes back to normal but if not, most hypertension can be controlled using pills. Using a special tiny blood pressure cuff and oscillometric or Doppler machine, we can also monitor your cat’s blood pressure.

A regular physical exam and regular bloodwork, including urine analysis, are the best ways to detect diseases early in your cat. In addition, regularly checking your cat’s weight either at home or in our office can help you detect subtle weight fluctuations. Regular dental care and maintaining a healthy weight may also help reduce his long-term risk for kidney disease.

Some cats who are diagnosed with kidney disease benefit from having fluids administered at home or in the clinic. If you or someone you know needs help administering fluids follow the link below for Dr. Carlson’s video on fluid adiminstration. If you notice any changes in your cat/dog or any of these sometimes occur, contact your veterinarian. Remember early detection is key and can make a huge difference in our lives.

Thanks for listening, until next time,

Henry & Angela Albers, DVM

Stow Kent Animal Hospital

Administration of Sub Q fluids:



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