If the cat is suffering from kidney damage and you notice it, it’s high time to act: The symptoms of kidney failure usually only become visible to the outside when the disease is advanced. In addition to unspecific signs such as fever, fatigue, weight loss, and avoidance of exercise, an extremely increased thirst and the associated frequent visits to the litter box is a serious signal that something is wrong with the velvet paw’s body detoxification.
How do my cat’s kidneys work?
The cat’s kidneys are surrounded by a fatty capsule on the side of the spine in the lumbar region and are highly effective organs. 200,000 nephrons per kidney filter toxins, by-products from protein breakdown, and substances that have to be excreted in the urine. Nephrons are functional units within the kidneys, consisting of kidney corpuscles and renal tubules: The corpuscles filter a preliminary stage of urine from the blood, absorb water and components that are valuable for the body, such as glucose and minerals, back into the organism. The sorted out toxins are sent to the final urine, which is ultimately excreted. The amazing little sewage treatment plants can do even more: They regulate the water and electrolyte balance, contribute to the formation of new blood and keep blood pressure stable.
They also form hormones and regulate the acid-base balance. The kidneys are therefore central components of metabolism. If there are difficulties with these organs, the cat is in acute danger. In the case of renal insufficiency, the nephrons are irreparably damaged, with the result that the “filters” become increasingly permeable and urinary poisoning occurs – doctors then speak of “uremia”. For a while, the body can buffer the damage to the kidney corpuscles by forming tissue. It is all the more tragic that the first visible symptoms of kidney failure only appear when the organs are already severely damaged – around three-quarters of the original functionality is then already lost.
What is kidney failure in cats?
Kidney problems in cats can be caused by infections, high blood pressure, or genetics. The intake of toxic substances – including certain indoor plants or heavy metals (lead, mercury) – can also cause severe kidney damage. In most cases, however, the trigger is simply age: kidney failure mostly affects older cats. A distinction is therefore made between chronic renal insufficiency (CIN), which develops over a longer period of time, and the rarer, acute renal insufficiency (ANI), which was initiated by an external cause or poisoning.
Kidney disease leads to inflammation of the renal tubules and interstitial tissue. Since the body becomes gradually poisoned when the kidneys are no longer working properly, the first symptoms are quite unspecific and actually initially indicate poisoning caused by an external influence.
Since the diseased kidneys hurt, the cat’s mobility is also restricted: it runs, climbs, and jumps less; in extreme cases, even the small step into the litter box can become torture. There, at the latest, another visible effect becomes apparent in the advanced stage: the cat’s urine has changed color, smells different, and may contain blood or pus admixtures. In addition, the cats react to the palpation of the kidneys with clear expressions of pain. At the first sign, you should consult a veterinarian before the poisoning progresses. Online consultation with Dr. Fressnapf is a stress-free alternative for your cat. The experienced veterinarians assess the situation and make well-founded recommendations for further steps.
How can kidney problems in cats be treated?
Cats over the age of seven should have a kidney check with a blood count at least every six months in order to identify problems at an early stage. Based on the creatinine values, a urinary metabolite, the veterinarian can narrow down an existing kidney disease in various stages and suggest a therapy. This is all the more important because once damaged kidney cells can no longer regenerate. With an early diagnosis, however, you as a cat owner can counteract the progressive organ damage.
First and foremost, changing the feed plays an important role. The specialist trade is prepared for this and offers kidney diet food for cats. This contains high-quality, balanced proteins and a reduced amount of salt and phosphorus. However, you may need to trick the cat to get used to the less flavorful new food. Due to the disease, the organism loses a lot of water; so the cat must always have enough water available to counteract dehydration. Many cats prefer to drink running water. To animate the animal in a playful way, there are specially designed drinking fountains. At the same time, medication can be used if necessary. Dehydration, blood pressure, and any nutrient deficiencies are supported pharmaceutically.