Animals

Kidney Disease in Elderly Cats: Early Signs and Treatment

Important Points

Among the most prevalent illnesses affecting older cats is kidney dysfunction.

The main causes of renal illness in cats are heredity, poor food, dehydration, and infections.

An alternative phrase describing the kidney’s incapacity to fulfill its primary function of removing waste from blood is renal failure.

Compared to feral cats, indoor cats have superior lives. They have a caring family that takes care of their needs, they can get medical attention when they need it, and they can sleep in a safe home free from predators and parasites.

But living comfortably within brings new dangers that feral cats might not encounter. Due to their sedentary lifestyle, middle-aged cats are prone to health issues like obesity and periodontal disease. Living inside increases the risk of renal disease in elderly cats. Most elderly cats will pass away from kidney illness in their latter years if they do not receive immediate medical intervention.

This begs the question, why does kidney illness affect elderly cats so much? Are renal failure and kidney disease the same thing? What is the course of renal failure in cats? Can cat owners take any action to help their furry friends while fending off this threat?

What is Kidney disease?

When a person has renal disease, their kidneys are unable to carry out their fundamental function of removing waste from the blood. The blood is cleaned by the kidneys as part of the filtration process before being recycled back into the body.

Renal illness patients will have increased nutrient loss, which will weaken the kidneys and the body as a whole. A urinalysis test at a veterinarian’s office can determine whether a cat has excessive potassium in their pee, a glaring sign of kidney illness. Potassium helps the muscles and stabilizes blood pressure by preserving the fluid balance in cells.

Excess fluid and waste products are retained in the blood during kidney illness, and this blood is subsequently distributed throughout the body. This raises the possibility of other health issues that are harmful to senior cats, such as urinary tract infections, hair loss, and dehydration.

Types of Kidney Disease in Cats?

Renal failure in cats and other animals can be either acute or chronic.

Acute kidney failure is a sudden illness that lasts for a few days or weeks. Cats of any age may have this from bladder damage, poisoning materials they have consumed, or illnesses.

For middle-aged and older cats, the most common condition they will encounter is chronic kidney disease (CKD). The kidneys can fail over months or years, although they will deteriorate with time. Senior cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) will have numerous health issues with their immune systems, skin, coats, and urinary tract.

Signs of Kidney Disease in Cats

Owners of cats will know that cats enjoy structure and a predetermined timetable. A cat will exhibit multiple behaviors that suggest a problem when they start acting out of routine.

Kidney disease symptoms include:

Recurring urination
Accidents outside the litterbox
Urinary tract infections that persist
Loss of appetite
Loss of weight
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Blood or cloudy urine
Bad breath
Coat dry
bloating

What Causes Kidney Disease in Cats

Kidney disease is more common in cats because of a variety of variables, including heredity, trauma, and other issues with the head that impact the kidneys.

Genetics: Due to certain hereditary features, certain cats, such as Persians and Abyssinians, are more likely to develop renal illness. The two cats have a condition called amyloidosis, which results in excessive protein deposits in their bodies and raises the risk of kidney damage.

Insufficient Hydration: Compared to feral cats, indoor cats drink less water. Feral cats forage for food and drink modest amounts of water from sources of freshwater. Cats kept indoors and given dry food do not benefit from diets high in water content. High-protein dry meals raise the risk of renal damage if consumed without adequate water.

Infections: Fungal and bacterial infections cause the kidneys to deteriorate over time. Renal inefficiency brought on by persistent infections increases blood waste.

Kidney Stones: Low fluid intake, a high-protein diet with little moisture, heredity, or long-term bacterial infections can all lead to kidney stones. These stones, which are made up of calcium, salt, potassium, and protein, can obstruct the cat’s filtration system’s flow.

Blocked Kidneys: When kidney stones accumulate excessively, the kidneys get clogged, which makes it difficult for fluids to properly leave the body and bladder. Cats attempt to urinate in the litter box as a result, but nothing comes out. Excess accumulation hurts and strains the kidneys and bladder.

Body Trauma: Acute kidney illness can result from a direct hit to the area of the body that houses the kidneys and bladder. Due to their weakening constitution, older cats may heal more slowly and sustain deeper wounds. Additionally, renal failure can result from consuming poisonous substances such as pesticides, antifreeze, or flowers.

Detecting Kidney Disease in Cats

A cat has to be checked by a doctor right away if they exhibit any of the symptoms listed above. The veterinary team will run diagnostic tests to identify the source of the issue.

Diagnostic tests to detect kidney disease are:

Blood tests that measure the body’s levels of creatinine and urea-nitrogen.
Tests on urine determine the sample’s specific gravity and protein content.

Either high blood or urine levels of protein, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium will show whether or not the kidneys are successfully filtering out excess waste.

Risks of Kidney Disease in Cats

Older cats are more susceptible to the negative side effects of kidney illness since their immune systems are weakened by age. Cats of different ages may still counteract certain effects, but as they age, their bodies become more strained.

Senior cats will suffer:

An elevated risk of persistent urinary tract infections
Fatigue and poor quality of coat
malnutrition-related seizures and inadequate brain responses
weakened muscles or inertia
Low red blood cell counts cause anemia.
Hiding and seeking cover (a symptom that a cat is ill and in need of care)

Treating Elderly Cats with Kidney Disease

Kidney illness in older cats is tough to treat and has no known treatment. Medical professionals can only replace the damaged kidney with a new one, but they are unable to restore the damaged kidney’s cells after it has occurred. Regretfully, older cats are more likely to experience complications from lengthy surgeries and may not fully recover.

It’s critical to an aging cat’s general health to consult with a medical specialist about how to treat them. Every cat is unique in the way that they act, behave, and handle drugs. It is crucial to locate a veterinarian whom the owner feels comfortable with, one who will communicate clearly and offer advice on the best course of action.

Common suggestions for supporting a cat with kidney disease are:

Kidney-Safe Foods: Veterinarians and dieticians may suggest feeding foods that are easy to digest and filter for the kidneys. Foods deficient in potassium, phosphorus, salt, and protein fall under this category. There will be fewer of these substances entering the body and less coming out of it through filtering.

Antibiotics: Giving senior cats probiotics and antibiotics will help keep the healthy bacteria in their bodies in check. Antibiotics help the immune system and kidneys by fighting the germs that cause persistent illnesses.

Supplemental nutrition: Because their bodies absorb things more slowly as they age, senior cats require their essential nutrients more. Giving the cat precisely calibrated vitamins will ensure that they absorb the right amount without spitting into the blood.

Hydration is important for senior cats because they tend not to drink as much. This helps them avoid muscle and joint disorders like arthritis and filters out extra waste. Veterinary technicians can help offer extra hydration by administering fluids in the clinic or by teaching homeowners how to do it at home.

End-of-life care should be discussed, depending on the cat’s age and the severity of the condition. Though it is hard to acknowledge, renal disease is the primary cause of death for older cats due to weakening kidneys and high-protein diets that leave them dehydrated. Making them comfortable at home can be preferable to driving them crazy and taking them to the vet all the time.

When kidney illness is diagnosed, it can be challenging to accept the diagnosis. Cat owners put a lot of effort into making sure their furry friends have all they desire, but they are unable to take age or illnesses that develop over time into account. Some cats may inherit it from their parents, while other cats may develop it later in life as a result of an unbalanced high-protein diet to fluid ratio. It is important for cat owners to consult a medical practitioner for advice on managing renal illness in their pets and to discuss preventative measures with other cat owners.

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What Counts as Elderly Cats?

Senior cats range in age from 11 to 14. Cats are said to as geriatric after that since they will require ongoing medical attention to stay well.

Do Feral Cats Suffer from Kidney Disease?

It is also conceivable that trauma or ingestion of a poisonous substance will cause acute renal illness in wild cats. Since they do not live as long as domestic cats, chronic renal disease is not common in feral cats.

Are Renal Failure and Kidney Disease the Same Thing?

Indeed, the conditions known as renal disease and renal failure refer to the same thing. Although the names are the same, medical professionals will use them interchangeably based on personal taste. The words “kidney failure” can occasionally be combined to mean “active kidney failure.”