As your cat grows older, you might wish to pay careful attention to any new symptoms that appear. They can be amazingly resilient creatures, but the risk of health complications does increase with age. In particular, cats are prone to problems with their renal system. After cats reach about ten years of age, feline chronic kidney disease is one of the most common health problems they experience.
Chronic kidney disease essentially means an ongoing loss of kidney function over time. So, when the disease first begins to develop, you might not notice anything unusual. But over time you might realize that your cat displays the following symptoms:
- Drinking more often than usual
- Urinating more frequently
- Seems less interested in food
- Losing weight
- Dull fur, or stops grooming
- Pale gums
- Bad breath
In some cases we also discover that cats with chronic kidney disease develop high blood pressure. This can lead to other problems, including eventual blindness.
If we suspect chronic kidney disease, blood and urine testing can confirm the condition. But in the case of older cats specifically, we can usually catch the disease at an earlier stage if you are attending regular checkups.
How is chronic kidney disease managed? Maintaining proper hydration is one of the main keys.
- Make sure your cat always has access to clean drinking water (running water, such as a drinking fountain, might be even better)
- Feed your cat canned foods, for extra moisture in their diet
- Feed your cat an appropriate diet, restricting phosphorus and sodium while providing protein, fiber, and water soluble vitamins
- Administration of subcutaneous fluids when necessary
- Reducing stress on your cat, which can make them less likely to drink adequately
And of course, if your cat is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, regular checkups become more important than ever. We will monitor their blood pressure, red blood cell count, and electrolyte levels so that we can intervene quickly if a crisis develops.