Kidney Failure in Cats
Kidney Failure or Feline CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) can happen because of a number of reasons.
The symptoms are quite clear, however. Increased thirst, weight loss in spite of eating well (lack of appetite usually manifests later when there is an accumulation of too much toxin), wounds that refuse to heal, foul breath often accompanied by dental tartar, weak hind legs in many instances – which is also a symptom of Diabetes.
I have also noticed other symptoms which may or may not be clinically acknowledged. They seem to know instinctively, which some doctors also know, that the protein content in raw meat/fish is absorbed almost completely by the body leaving little or no toxic waste for removal
Cats thus affected tend to go for raw fish or meat.
The reason being, protein, generally speaking, is not particularly healthy for CRF cats since the weakened kidneys cannot get rid of the toxins produced through protein metabolism.
On the other hand, without protein, cats are weakened further as, in fact, any animal would be.
They seem to know instinctively, which some doctors also know, that the protein content in raw meat/fish is absorbed almost completely by the body leaving little or no toxic waste for removal.
That’s a layperson speaking, but speaking from experience.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a CRF cat in your family, please do not force him to eat the usual Renal Diet which he will probably find unappealing. A raw fish diet is just fine.
They seem to know their health better than we do. Chew would stubbornly refuse rice. It was not until the blood work was done that we knew he was diabetic. Animals know their health: Chew stubbornly refused rice even before tests indicated Diabetes Click To Tweet
Please don’t force your cat to eat what he doesn’t want to. Understand that he IS terminal, and he needs all the love and care that you can give him. He might not understand why you have put him on a restricted diet, especially when his instincts are telling him to go for the exact food that you will not let him have. He might not understand why you have put him on a restricted diet, especially when his instincts are telling him to go for the exact food that you will not let him have.
I’ll always remember how we would stop Two from going for raw fish once he was under treatment. Back then, we did not know any better. We thought it was for his own good.
We were wrong.
And he did not protest… tried eating whatever renal diet we were concocting for him upon advice from medical experts.
EMPATHY has rescued and sheltered more than a hundred cats and dogs since 2002. I can no longer do it on my own.
Buy a t-shirt to help me keep EMPATHY running?
I do not mean to disparage anyone, but my experience says that no one is to be trusted completely when it comes to what your pets really want. You are the best judge of that – provided you have been giving him proper medical care at all times. when fish dig into the ground underneath the water in search of food they frequently ingest worms or eggs of worms which can then cause significant damage to a cat already weakened by parasitic attack
Having said that, let me also mention a contrary experience that I have had.
One of my cats (Bagheera) had contracted some kind of terrible parasitic infection causing uncontrollable seizures. Once he got a little better, he asked for raw fish. We gladly gave it to him taking it for a sign that he was now definitely better since that had always been his preferred diet.
Within hours there was a relapse.
Dr. Banerjee told us that such infections get worse with a raw fish diet. The reason being, when fish dig into the ground underneath the water in search of food they frequently ingest worms or eggs of worms which can then cause significant damage to a cat already weakened by a parasitic attack.
I am not trying to confuse you with contradictory remarks. Rather, I am merely stating my experience as well as my feelings so that you may decide for yourself what to do about your cat.
You will find all sorts of useful material all over the internet regarding CRF cats. There is not much that I can add to it. I only thought of writing about parts of my experience that might help you understand your pet better.
This is one of the most important supplements that you can give your CRF cat. It is easy to grow.
Just sprinkle wheat grains into lightly turned soil that gets a reasonable amount of sunlight, and you shall have full-grown wheat grass in seven days. Let your cat chew on the growth on his own, or grind a handful to make juice and dilute and feed. Either way, it is an extremely beneficial supplement and one that will go a long way to extending the life of your baby.
The chlorophyll content in wheat grass is beneficial in countering the anemia that CRF causes. Wheat grass juice is more effective and benign than iron supplements and most cats will chew on the grass on their own.
Here’s a bit of introduction on CRF from About.Com to conclude this article.
What is Feline Chronic Renal Failure?CRF should not be confused with acute renal failure, which caused so many deaths in the 2007 tainted pet food recall tragedy.
Extremely common in older cats, CRF is a serious condition evidenced by gradual, irreversible deterioration of kidney function over a period of months or years. The kidney consists of tiny funnel-shaped tubes called nephrons, which filter and reabsorb the fluids that balance the body. When an individual nephron is damaged by any cause, (aging, poison, infection, etc.) it stops functioning.
Fortunately, the kidney can still function with as few as twenty-five percent of its original nephrons, as other nephrons can grow larger to “fill in the blanks.”Kidney failure occurs when the remaining functioning nephrons drop below 25%. Kidney failure creates several body dysfunctions: Toxins, such as urea and creatinine which normally are secreted as waste, build up in the blood.
Other components in blood, such as phosphorus or sodium may rise or fall abnormally. Urine may contain protein which is not handled well by failing kidneys.How is CRF Diagnosed?
CRF is diagnosed by a blood panel, which measures levels of critical blood components such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and a red blood cell count. Analysis of urine will test for protein, bacteria, and blood, as well as how well the kidneys are concentrating urine.
What are the Symptoms of CRF?
All but one (difficulty urinating) of the symptoms listed below can also be indicative of other disease, e.g., hyperthyroidism. In fact, hyperthyroidism may mask CRF, which points out the need for an accurate diagnosis.
- Weight loss
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Loss of appetite
- Obvious difficulty in urinating
- Dull or ill-kept coat
How is CRF Treated?
- Subcutaneous Fluids (Sub-Q): Severely affected cats may have to be hospitalized for rehydration, however most people can learn to administer Sub-Q at home. Additional fluids may also be added to food.
- Diet: Your veterinarian may prescribe a low protein,low phosphorus diet, based on your cat’s overall health. If at all possible, feed your cat raw or canned food for the added moisture.
- Medication: Depending on related problems, such as hypertension or anemia, your veterinary may prescribe a number of different medications. Epogen shots may be given, or oral medication for cleaning the blood of toxins released by the kidneys.
- Appetite stimulants: If anorexia is a problem, your veterinarian may prescribe these, although cats often start eating again once they are sufficiently hydrated. Since CRF cats often have poor appetites, it is important to get your cat to eat something, if they shun their prescription foods. Human baby food meat (NO onions), tuna juice, juice from packets of premium cat foods or other similar enticements can be added to spice the taste of the prescribed food and to help stimulate the patient’s appetite. You may even use “forced feeding” with high quality canned food mixed with water or other fluids, administered with a small syringe, if weight loss is severe. You do not want to add hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) to your cat’s health problems.
- Hemodialysis: Although the equipment is expensive and unlikely to be found in your local veterinary clinic, if you are fortunate to live near a large teaching college with the facilities, hemodialysis is a possible last resort treatment.
- Kidney transplant: This is probably not an option for an elderly cat, and is quite expensive.
Managing a CRF cat will produce a roller-coaster of emotions, as you find yourself overjoyed or in despair over the latest BUN and Creatin numbers. Try to remember the old medical adage to “treat the cat, not the numbers. One of the best things you can do for your CRF cat is to try to relax, keep stress for both of you at a minimum, and enjoy your close relationship as you travel this road together.
And here are additional resources:
- DOGSTAR.COM: FELINE CRF RAW DIET
- NATURAL KIDNEY FAILURE DIET (I have no personal experience with this and nor am I endorsing this, but you might find the details interesting).
- ALOE VERA JUICE FOR FELINE CRF
- DIARY OF A CAT
- HERBAL CURES FOR CRF
Originally published sometime in 2008 on kapush.net