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The Scratching Post: Your Kitty’s Kidneys

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a new column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Has Fluffy been drinking a lot more water lately? Have you been cleaning out her litter box more often than normal?

These can be some of the initial signs of kidney disease. We rarely think about our cat’s kidneys and how well they are functioning, but they are very important organs in the body. Kidneys filter the blood to remove waste from the system. Most commonly due to aging, but occasionally from infections or toxins, the kidneys can become weakened. This may lead to kidney disease, which is sometimes called Chronic Kidney Failure.

Here are some commonly-asked questions we get regarding feline kidney issues.

Q: I’m cleaning Fluffy’s litter box all the time. How can her kidneys be failing if there is MORE urine?

For us humans, we might think it’s a good thing. We are told to drink 8 glasses a day to stay hydrated, but cats are different. When Fluffy’s kidneys are functioning well, her urine is fairly concentrated (yellow) and she doesn’t need to drink a large amount of water. If her kidneys begin to fail, it doesn’t mean they aren’t producing enough urine; it means they are not eliminating waste as well. In order to compensate, her body will increase blood flow to the kidneys which makes her kidneys produce more urine. To avoid dehydration, she will become very thirsty. This compensation may help initially, but over time she may experience loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and very bad breath. While these symptoms can be due to kidney disease, they can also be caused by other conditions and should be investigated by a veterinarian.

Q: How will I know if my cat has kidney disease?

The only way to know how well the kidneys are functioning is through testing the blood and testing a urine sample. These lab results, in conjunction with a discussion with your veterinarian about your cat’s overall health and behavior, will help us to determine the appropriate course of action.

Q: What can I do if my cat has kidney disease?

Though every cat’s needs are different, there are a few common treatments we use to help ease the burden on the kidneys. These treatments can range from special diets and medications, to giving fluids under the skin, or even acupuncture treatments. If the kidney disease is more advanced, we may recommend placing Fluffy on IV Fluids for up to three days to flush waste out of the kidneys. This will hopefully help her kidneys to function better for some time while some of the other treatments are provided.

Q: Will treatment cure my cat?

While Fluffy’s kidneys will never return to normal, she may live with a great quality of life for an extended period of time. Following your veterinarian’s recommendations and closely watching Fluffy for changes will give you a leg up on keeping her as happy and healthy as possible.

If you feel your kitty is showing any of the signs of kidney disease, give us a call at 703-525-1955. We can work with you to figure out the best plan of action for you and your furry friend.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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