Kidney failure in cats is the number one problem reported to pet insurance companies. Some things that can contribute to kidney disease include: high blood pressure, chronic urinary tract infection, urinary tract obstruction, viral diseases, and some drugs (like NSAIDS).
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Rough coat
- Poor grooming
- Increased or decreased thirst and urination
Cats do not drink enough water in general. When they are fed dry food they make very concentrated urine and the kidneys have to work very hard. Because the urine is so concentrated the cats tend to make crystals and stones in their urinary tract. Kidney stones are much more common since we have been feeding so much dry food to cats.
One simple solution to kidney disease prevention is feeding a high-moisture, species appropriate diet. In nature, cats would eat fresh-killed prey that is high in moisture and protein. Dry food with only 3-6% moisture that is high in carbohydrates is inappropriate for cats and contributes to chronic kidney disease.
Treatment for kidney disease includes feeding a very high moisture diet. Traditional veterinarians recommend feeding low protein diets, including dry diets. These are inappropriate, in my opinion. Newer research has shown that old animals have a higher need for protein and should not be fed overly protein-restricted diets.
Treatment can include subcutaneous fluids given frequently, injections or oral administration of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D supplementation, addition of phosphorous binders if the phosphorous levels are high on blood testing, high moisture species-appropriate diet (meat!), supplements, blood pressure medications, and a low-stress environment. Acupuncture and herbals can also be very helpful.
For more information, check out my book From Needles To Natural, the chapters on kidney disease and feeding cats.