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Kidneys are made of
thousands of little pumps called nephrons and cats have about
two-thirds the number of nephrons than, for example, dogs.
Perhaps this is why kidney disease is so common in older cats.
have various roles but one of their most important roles is
to conserve water, ie hold water in the body. When kidneys
arenít working so well, excess water is lost so the cat will
urinate more. To replace this water, the cat will then
drink more. Initially, these changes are very subtle and even
keen observers canít see the change in their catís drinking or
urinating. The clinical result of this is dehydration that
can be picked up with blood tests and dilute urine
(which can be assessed with a urine test)Ö..even before the catís
owner has noticed any change!
Kidney disease can have specific
causes such infections, cancers or genetic problems but in many
cases in cats, no specific cause can be found even with
thorough investigations and tests.
Fortunately, kidney disease
progresses very slowly in most cases. Specific diets
for cats with kidney disease help slow the progression (see renal
nutrition sheet). We can slow down the process even
further if we can pick up side effects before these
side effects cause more damage to the kidney. Some of these side
this occurs in approximately 25% of cats with kidney
disease. Measuring blood pressure of cats is done in much the
same way that your blood pressure is tested. As this is more of a
cat problem, many practices donít have the facilities or
experience to test for this. In most cases, blood pressure
control is straightforward with daily medication
is measured by blood tests. Potassium lowering can lead to the
blood stream becoming acidic and further damage to the
kidneys. This is also managed by regular medications.
is usually controlled by renal diets but if
cats just will not eat the specific diets or this rises despite
them, an additional paste can be given.
loss in the urine:
is relatively rare but can be controlled with medication.
are more likely to occur when urine is dilute (concentrated urine
kills the bacteria). This not only causes more damage but also is
blood levels of urea or creatinine:
These are our main measures of dehydration in cats with (and
without!) kidney disease. As the blood levels of urea rise, the
cat can feel nauseous. We teach very dedicated owners how
to give fluids under the skin daily. Sometimes, itís appropriate
for the cat to be hospitalised to have IV fluids (a drip).
these parameters is ideally done every three months (and
less often if the disease is in very early stages). By testing
regularly, we aim to not only keep your cat living longer
but to keep your cat happier for longer!
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