Chronic kidney disease in cats
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most common diseases in aging felines. It is insidious in onset and typically presents as slow, chronic weight loss, unthrifty appearance, increased thirst or urination, decreased appetite and sometimes vomiting. As the disease progresses there is a decrease in the ability of the kidney to filter out toxins in blood and expel them into the urine and to remove or retain electrolytes. Hypertension and anemia may also develop because the kidneys produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production.
Diagnosis is typically via bloodwork and urinalysis along with clinical signs. The disease is staged based on changes in bloodwork, ability to concentrate urine, presence of protein in the urine and physical exam findings. In some cases, x-rays or ultrasound may be used. If definitive staging of the disease is desired, kidney biopsy may be performed.
Treatment initially involves dietary changes, like switching to a low protein, low phosphorus, low sodium diet, along with supplementation of electrolytes that are low and binding agents for electrolytes that are elevated to remove them from the gut before they get into the bloodstream to be filtered by the kidney. Fluids are given under the skin to ensure the patient remains well hydrated. Often owners are trained to do this at home to reduce the stress level for the cat, but in cases where the cat is too fractious or owners aren't comfortable with performing this themselves, they may be brought to the clinic a couple times a week for treatment. Cats with high blood pressure will be treated with medication to reduce their blood pressure.
There is no cure for CKD but with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment the lifespan of the cat can be extended for months to years. The best way to make an early diagnosis and extend the cat's life is to submit annual bloodwork and urinalysis on all cats over 7 years of age.
Wilsonville Veterinary Clinic
9275 S.W. Barber St, Wilsonville, OR 97070