Chronic renal failure is a common problem in every cat, besides its species and age. Today we will be talking about a pathology that has to be treated with the right precautions, as it can also lead to very severe symptoms. Let’s investigate what we can do when out cats kidneys stop working properly.
What is chronic renal failure?
Renal failure is a pathology that affects out cats kidneys.
To understand what is going on, we must understand the role of the kidney in the body first.
Kidneys are two identical organs that connect to the bladder through some thin tubes called the ureters. Their main role is to act as a blood sieve to clean it and obtain useful substances.
Inside the kidneys, there are blood vessels, which are constantly flooded by all the blood content present in our body.
This blood is filtrated by some specific structures inside each of the kidneys, also called nephrons. We count approximately 200.000 of these in our cat and their role is to grab all of the waste products from the blood every day and eliminate them through urine.
Therefore, the main role of the kidneys is to eliminate all of the useless substances present in the blood through urine. An excess of these substances can be dangerous such as urea or creatinine.
Besides this role, the kidneys also have to regulate the correct water balance, salts, phosphate, calcium, potassium and other substances diluted in blood names electrolytes.
Other than that, kidneys also produce a very important hormones named renin. This hormone collaborated to maintain a controlled blood pressure level. If we have a blood pressure fall, the kidneys will produce more renin to increase it again and regulate it.
In renal failure, your cat’s kidneys will start to damage gradually. In particular, nephrons start to turn off, just like a switch, until the levels of active nephrons will reduce even more every time.
If fewer nephrons are available to filtrate the blood, the more effort the active ones will have to put in order to filtrate the blood. This does not lead to optimal results.
At this point, we would come across an accumulation of waste deposit in the blood, which is unable to be eliminated by the kidneys. Electrolytes would also undergo a change in their balance.
The main problem with renal failure is that symptoms are not always immediately visible in our animal. They could only be visible when the kidneys are compressed at about 2/3 of their total functionality.
The most common symptoms mentioned by owners of cats are:
- Drinks much more water;
- Urinates often;
- Vomits frequently;
- Sometime he eat more and sometimes less;
- Refuses to eat;
- Loses weight quickly;
- Always tired and poorly active ;
- Fur seems dry and bristle;
- Has some wounds on the mouth;
- Breath smells something like urine;
- Breathes heavily.
When the situation is beyond saving, the kidneys are severely damaged and are unable to produce urine. Therefore, the waste substances in the blood will accumulate in the body until serious consequences.
At the last stage of this failure, your cat might experience coma, convulsions and tremors.
Renal failure usually does not have a specific cause but some different factors might increase the probability of experiencing it:
- diet full of proteins and sodium;
- poor quality diet with dry products only;
- Does not eat enough wet products nor water;
- Bacterial gingivitis, which might contaminate the blood, ending up in the kidneys;
- Renal traumas ;
- Tumors ;
- Already existing diseases such as FIP or immune-mediated glomerulonephritis;
- Renal infections;
- Urinary track stones ;
- Genetic predisposition ;
- Specie predisposition, especially in Siamese, Birnani, Balinese, Abyssinians.
An early diagnosis is the best weapon we can use against renal failure in these cases. By doing this, we allow our pet to life a healthy and long life, besides this problem.
From the start of the symptoms, the vet will proceed with some blood and urine tests to analyse the electrolytes and to analyse the eliminated substances from the kidneys such as urea and creatinine. The amount of urine released is also taken into consideration; if the urine mass is less than expected, there are probably not enough waste products eliminated which means there are more left in the body.
In some cases, an ultra sound or radiography is also needed to evaluate the kidneys dimension. As well as presence of cysts, tumors or traumas in the nearby area.
Renal failure can be treated successfully if the functionality of the kidneys are still at 80-85%. In the rest of the cases, we must appeal to a maintenance treatment to keep the problem under control.
The main therapies provide:
- vomiting medications;
- Forced hydration by intravenous or subcutaneous drip;
- Vitamin B supplements;
- Medicines to control blood pressure.
The last resource available to treat renal failure would be haemodialysis and kidney transplantation. Vets rarely suggest these options as they can lead to various problems.
Firstly, we are not ready scientifically to obtain organs from donating cats.
Haemodialysis is the process of renewing all of the blood content in the body with the use of a specific machine to clean it. In the veterinary field, this is still very rare, due to the machinery costs and because it is quite difficult to keep the cat still for a long time during the process.
For this reason, many vets suggest rich periodic intravenous insertions of rehydrating substances, which enables to dilute the blood, helping the production of urine.
What do I do?
The best tip for an owner of a cat with this problem is definitely to encourage a larger water intake and to provide a specific diet.
Try to purchase a small water fountain for animals to encourage them to drink fresh and clean water everyday thanks to special active filters.
Choose a specific diet for animals with this problem. It must have some specific features as well as being of an excellent quality brand.
By doing this, you will assure a good and long life expectancy for you cat, learning to live with this problem.