Health Issues in Older Cats: Chronic Kidney DiseaseChronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is thought to affect a third of all cats over 10 years of age. As time goes on we have more and more to offer animals diagnosed with this condition, and we hope to give cats with chronic kidney disease a good quality of life for as long as possible. The prognosis for cats diagnosed with chronic kidney disease can be excellent, and some cats will go on to lead happy lives for many months or even several years.
Usually once CKD is diagnosed, we cannot identify the original cause, as it most likely happened earlier in the cat’s life. The kidney is an organ that cannot regenerate (regrow) and so CKD is not a disease that can be cured. The disease will usually progress over time and, unfortunately, in a lot of cases, the end stage is kidney failure. However, with treatment we aim to support the function of the kidneys for as long as possible, and also to minimise any complications.
Most cats diagnosed with CKD will have vague symptoms including weight loss, reduced appetite, drinking more and urinating more and vomiting intermittently. If you notice any of these signs at home do book your cat in for check with a vet as it is likely that we would recommend a blood test and a urine test. Often though these signs are difficult to notice as they come on gradually, and so it can be at a yearly booster or other check up that weight loss or other symptoms are found.
Once CKD has been diagnosed, if your cat is otherwise well and eating well, the vet will discuss the best way to manage the disease. If your cat is unwell when they are first diagnosed, they may initially need more intensive treatment which might involve a stay in hospital.
We will often recommend a change of diet to a prescription diet, and there is evidence to show that this is one of the most important factors in slowing down the progression of CKD. We do know however that a lot of cats will struggle to change their diet, and it is always more important that they are eating well and are happy, so we will always discuss with you whether this is right for your cat.
Monitoring your cat with regular blood and urine tests and blood pressure measurements is very important as it allows us to pick up changes early so that medication can be added if required and any complications picked up. We hope that by picking up CKD as early as possible we can prolong your cat’s good quality life as long as possible.
Our free senior cat checks are a perfect chance to discuss any concerns you may have about any of the symptoms of CKD, or any other worries. Please call us at the cat clinic to book your cat in.
Amanda Ross GP Cert (SAM) BVM&S MRCVS - Amanda qualified from Edinburgh University in 2001 and joined us in June 2017. She began her career in a practice in her hometown of Leeds before joining a mixed practice in Bedford in 2002. Initially, she worked with large animals as well as small but gradually moved towards concentrating solely on small animals. She holds an ESVPS Certificate in Small Animal Medicine. She has become particularly interested in feline medicine.