Kidneys play an important role in; eliminating toxins through urine production in the body, eliminating excess protein and protein waste from the bloodstream, and balancing the body’s acids, water and salts.
When a cat suffers from Kidney disease, these tasks are not carried out properly and could pose a health risk.
It is estimated that 1% -3% of all cats are affected by Chronic Kidney Disease(CKD), and 30% to 50% of cats older than 15 years suffer from the disease.
The frequency is similar for both male and female cats, but male cats tend to be diagnosed early than their counterparts.
Types of Kidney diseases affecting the cats
- Acute Kidney Disease
- This is often caused by an abrupt and severe injury to the kidneys and can happen at any time. Physical trauma, blocked blood flow to the kidney, a severe infection, and ingestion of toxic substances, which include pesticides, toxic plants like lilies, certain human medications like ibrufen, and cleaning fluids are among the main causes of Acute Kidney Disease. The signs take a short period to prevail as compared to Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Chronic Kidney Disease
It mainly occurs as a result of a decline in the level of kidney functions, which happens slowly over time.
It causes mild signs of illness, which normally worsen over time and can happen in months or years.
Chronic kidney disease often affects older cats, with 3 out of 10 cats being affected.
As the cats grow older, the risk of being affected increases with the highest risk being after 9 years.
The disease is commonly found in certain breeds like Exotics, Chinchillas, and Persians.
Signs of Kidney Disease in cats
Seeking early treatment is key to managing a cat’s health and this can be achieved by learning symptoms to look out for.
These signs include;
- Vomiting- In some instances, the vomit may contain blood.
- Decreased appetite leading to subtle weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Lethargy, low energy
- Pale gums indicating anemia
- Poor coat quality.
- More frequent urination
- Less grooming
- Oral ulcers and bad breath
What Ingredients are needed for cats with Kidney Disease?
A cat suffering from Kidney disease accumulates waste products in the bloodstream as the filtering system of the kidney has broken down.
This calls for foods with ingredients that do not leave any waste in the bloodstream while decreasing the workload of the kidneys to slow down the progression of the kidney disease.
The main goals for managing Kidney disease in cats are;
- Modifying or slowing the progression of the disease
- Minimizing problems with fluid and mineral balance
- Sustaining adequate nutrition
- Controlling the clinical signs associated with accumulating waste products in the blood.
To ensure Commercial diets for cats are developed to prioritize these goals, they should contain the below ingredients;
Diseased kidneys cause the cat to lose appetite and urinate excessively despite the decreased ability of kidneys to concentrate urine.
Despite the dilute urine, the body is still required to get rid of the toxins and this causes the cat to be more thirsty.
It is recommended for the cat to have an unlimited supply of clean drinking water to avoid dehydration and therefore we should change the cat’s water and clean the bowl several times a day to encourage more water intake.
Another way of ensuring great water intake for the cat is by offering wet food which is 70% or more water to the cat.
With the declining functions of the kidneys, Phosphorus is not filtered out.
When phosphorus builds up in the bloodstream, not only will the kidney function decline rapidly but the cat will also start to feel ill.
Reducing the cat’s phosphorus intake is the best way to counteract this effect.
The recommended phosphorus intake for a cat with Kidney disease is 0.3%-0.6% on a dry matter basis.
To maintain reasonable blood pressure and reduce the workload on the kidneys which could worsen their damage, sodium levels on the Cat’s diet are restricted.
High sodium level treats like meat and salty cheese should also be avoided.
Restricted or High-Quality Protein
When the waste remains in the bloodstream due to failure in the kidneys to extract it, the BUN levels in the body of the cat increase.
Feeding the cat, a protein deprived diet reduces the BUN levels.
It is also imperative to know that severe protein deprivation caused by continuous intake of protein-restricted diet may lead to the poor physical condition of the cat and decreased mass.
Kidney diseased cats are supposed to feed moderate levels of highly digestible proteins that have low waste and from high-quality animal sources.
28%-35% is the recommended range of protein on a dry matter basis for cats.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Failure of kidneys to perform properly causes inflammation of the kidneys.
Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation hence making the cat feel better.
Cats will only utilize the fatty acids found in animal fat and the best sources include various fish oil like salmon oil, menhaden fish oil, krill oil, and Sardine Oil.
They work by reducing the production of inflammatory compounds which create oxidates stress to the diseased kidney’s tissue hence contributing to the slowed progression of chronic kidney disease.
Extra Vitamin B
Due to frequent urination, cats with diseased kidneys lose crucial vitamin B.
The deficiency of this vitamin is also associated with loss of appetite and overall poor health.
Diets for cats with Kidney disease should be fortified with Vitamin B and in some instances, the veteran may recommend B12 shots or multivitamin supplements.
These multivitamins contain vitamins and potassium which also support the cat’s nervous system and muscle function.
Top 5 Food Brands for Cats with Kidney Disease
The ingredients in this renal support dry and canned cat food include; Chicken liver, Pork Liver, and chicken by-products and is specially formulated to support cats suffering from Kidney disease.
The food contains precise antioxidants, low phosphorus level, and targeted protein that control the waste build up in the bloodstream and omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation.
The proportions are rich in the formula to ensure they get enough nutrients in smaller portions which can be served either one type of the renal food in combination with other Royal Canin’s Renal support food varieties.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition
This brand of cat food for kidney disease is a good choice for cats that prefer pate-style food although dry food is also available.
Its ingredients include egg products, water, chicken, pork liver, and brewers rice.
The food is clinically tested to sustain muscle mass as well as improve and lengthen the quality of life.
The food contains high levels of essential amino acids that are building blocks of protein and controlled phosphorus and low sodium and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
The food has an additional ingredient of soy protein isolate and has no harmful additives or low-quality grains that are found in many cat foods.
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet
This food is made from natural ingredients specifically formulated for kidney support.
It has controlled levels of protein, sodium, and phosphorus to avoid the accumulation of waste in the bloodstream.
The plenty levels of amino acids not only reduce inflammation but also maintain joint function hence ensuring that the cat remains mobile.
To avoid the risk of triggering any allergies or adverse reactions, this diet is completely free of wheat, soy, or corn.
It is a natural diet with no added artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.
Wellness Natural Pet food
The kidney diet for cats is made from fresh meat and natural ingredients and has a turkey taste with a salmon loaf.
There are additional flavors to suit any cat’s tastes.
What makes this type of food unique is its unique packaging with natural ingredients such as carrots which are known to be high antioxidants that help to fight inflammation.
It also contains cranberries that ensure a healthy urinary tract for the cats.
To promote a healthy coat, the food also contains flaxseed and has a minimum of 10.5% crude protein.
Magnesium levels are low and the food has plenty of moisture to keep the kidneys healthy.
The fat, carbohydrates, and protein quantities are properly balanced to ensure they slow the progression of kidney disease.
Purina Pro Plan
This brand offers cat food for both early care of Kidney and advanced care of Kidney disease in cats.
The food is crafted in collaboration with veterinarians, researchers, and nutritionists to bring out the best product for your ailing cat.
The low phosphorus levels control the damage to the kidneys while the low protein levels in the food reduce non-essential amino acids hence reducing the waste the kidneys must remove.
Sodium levels are also controlled and additional omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation while reducing pressure are present as well.
The dry food has been described as highly palatable making it a favorite to many cats.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Therapeutic Diet?
A therapeutic diet is a diet that contains all the ingredients at controlled levels which ensure they reduce the progression of Kidney Disease.
When should a cat start Therapeutic Diet?
This diet should be started immediately after the diagnosis.
Studies show that the cats who started the diet sooner performed better in the long run.
Once the disease is advanced, the cat starts to vomit and lose appetite altogether.
At this stage, it is very difficult to introduce any new diet to the cat.
To make sure the cat has the best chance of enjoying its old age, a prompt diagnosis is key.
This can be made possible by being on the lookout for any of the signs associated with kidney disease.
How do you introduce a Therapeutic kidney diet?
Cats dislike switching their diets and this can be more challenging when you are dealing with an old or ill cat.
The switch may take several days to weeks as it normally consists of small doses at a time.
In the beginning, a small amount of food like a tablespoon should be added to the cat’s normal food.
The amounts of the new diet should increase every day as the normal diet amounts decrease until the meal eventually consists of the new diet only.
This gradual change of diet has proved to be successful in many cats especially now that the manufacturers are striving to produce aromatic food.
How long does a cat live with Kidney disease?
This varies mainly in terms of the age of the cat during diagnosis and the stage of the disease.
Cats diagnosed during stage 1 or 2 live for a period longer than 5 years when proper treatment and care is administered.
Those diagnosed at Stage 3 have a baseline of 1.86 years with some surviving up to 5 years and above provided proper diet and treatment are adhered to.
The survival rate for those diagnosed with stage 4 does not exceed 1 year.
These periods may vary for older cats.
Can Kidney disease in a cat be Reversed?
Some cats with acute Kidney disease have made a full recovery with proper treatment and diet.
Since chronic Kidney disease develops over months or years, it may take long before the damage is realized and hence could take long to repair.
It could also be a result of other underlying conditions which could mean low chances of recovery.
It’s very difficult for any cat owner to see their cat suffering.
If left untreated, kidney disease can make the cat worse as it is a very serious condition.
The instance of kidney disease diets and supplements means that the cat’s kidney health can be improved by slowing the progression of the disease.
It is therefore very important for cat owners to monitor any changes that occur in a cat to determine which changes could pose a danger to its health.
Regular visits to the Veterinary clinic is also important as it keeps the cat’s health in check.