August 16, 2022 3 min read

Cats & Kidney Disease

It is often said that prevention is better than cure, and this is also relevant to kidney problems in cats. Kidney disease, in particular chronic kidney disease (CKD), is one of the most common health problems of senior and geriatric cats, and veterinarians generally accept that an estimated one in three cats will develop kidney disease during their lifetime. 

What is kidney disease?

Kidney disease, kidney failure or chronic kidney disease is a renal disease and causes the kidneys to progressively shut down. Like humans, cats often develop kidney issues as part of the aging process. However, in comparison to us, cats are far more likely to develop the disease.  Kidney disease in cats, occurs when the kidneys stop working as well as they should. Normally, healthy kidneys are responsible for a host of different functions including:

  • Filtering and removing waste products from the blood
  • Helping to maintain your cat’s body’s water balance
  • Regulating electrolytes
  • Controlling normal blood pressure
  • Producing certain hormones
  • Concentrating urine by returning water to the body, which helps to prevent dehydration

Due to the late onset of symptoms, kidney issues can be quite difficult to treat because it is usually diagnosed only after it has progressed significantly, sometimes as far as kidney failure. It cannot even be detected until a cat has lost more than 65% of their kidney function. 

How to care for your cat’s kidneys

Ensuring to look after your cat’s kidneys throughout their life could be the key to minimising the likelihood of them developing CKD, and can even help to slow the progression of the disease. It may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk, but there are key steps that can be taken to support your cat’s kidney health.

Encourage fluid consumption

The kidneys thrive on fluid as this is how flush toxins from the body. You can help keep your cat’s kidneys healthy by encouraging your cat to consume as much fluid as possible. You can do this by:

  • Replacing their water bowl with a fountain, as cats often prefer drinking running water
  • Offer them KittyRade prebiotic drink, which is packed full of amino acids and electrolytes and is in a flavour profile that cats love
  • Add a gravy topper like YummyRade, which is low in salt and phosphorous. It is important to be aware of the salt, sodium and phosphorus levels in cat nutrition products, as the content needs to be low for cats with kidney issues and urinary issues
  • Cats will often enjoy ice cubes, which can encourage your cat to play in—and drink—their water. KittyRade can also be frozen and given to your cat as a cooling hydrating treat
  • Placing water bowls throughout your house so your cat does not have to travel far to drink; this is particularly important for senior cats who have mobility issues or arthritis
  • Changing water bowls regularly, as cats do not like water that has been left stagnant for too long

Ensure your cat is a healthy weight for their size

Studies have shown that cats who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, and some studies suggest that diabetic cats have a greater risk of also developing CKD! In addition, preventing your cat from becoming overweight is better for their overall health.

  • Consult your veterinarian to ensure your cat is a healthy weight for their size, they can also help determine the optimum number of calories for your cat per day, which will prevent overfeeding
  • Use an accurate measuring cup to measure their meals
  • If your cat is on a special diet and does not particularly like their food, YummyRade can be added to it. YummyRade is a low fat and low-calorie gravy topper and will not cause weight gain

Visit your veterinarian regularly to test your cat’s kidney function

Early detection is key when it comes to kidney problems. Unfortunately, kidney disease often causes no clinical signs until it has advanced. It is suggested that your cat should visit the veterinarian annually as an adult, and biannually after 7 years of age, for routine wellness and preventive care.