Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Based on Pet Health Data

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Chronic kidney disease and your cat: the facts
Did you know that the most common kidney problem seen in pets is chronic kidney disease? Did you also know that this illness is more common in cats than dogs? The fact is that kidney disease in cats is almost seven times more common than in dogs.
 
How common is feline chronic kidney disease?
In conducting research around this illness, the Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge team (BARK) came to a few concerning statistical conclusions:
 
  • In 2014, one in every 10 geriatric (10 years of age or older) cats had kidney disease.
  • The prevalence of kidney disease in cats is on the rise with a 29 percent increase since 2010.
  • Per 10,000 cases, New Mexico (450), Nevada (402) and Colorado (399) had the highest prevalence of kidney disease in cats.
  • 24 percent of cats with kidney disease also have periodontal disease. Bacteria can shower the vascular system periodically from infected, inflamed periodontal tissues.
 
Theoretically, the body's defenses remove these bacteria before they can cause distant infection. However, in some cases, bacteria can lodge in remote sites such as the kidneys and cause significant disease. With numbers like that, it's important to know the warning signs, treatment options and prevention techniques, and to understand why early diagnosis is critical.
 
What symptoms and warning signs of chronic kidney disease should I look for?
 
Contact your local veterinarian if your cat displays the following symptoms:
 
  • Increased thirst/water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Bad breath
 
 
Chronic feline kidney disease can also be associated with high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and dental disease. While it's usually seen in older cats, younger cats can be affected as well. And sometimes, kittens are born with unhealthy kidneys. When kidney disease is present, kidney function slowly decreases over time and your cat might not seem sick until a great deal of kidney damage has occurred.
 
Treatment and prevention of chronic kidney disease in cats
A special prescription diet may be prescribed for your cat, as well as oral medications. In some cases, hospitalization and fluid therapy may be needed. As a preventive recommendation, you should keep your cat from ingesting potential toxins such as antifreeze and Easter lilies. You can find more information on potential toxins that harm pets on the Pet Poison Helpline website.
 
Early detection may save your cat’s life
Most cats diagnosed in the early stages of chronic feline kidney disease live, on average, two to three years. Many cats can live longer with proper monitoring and treatment. When kidney disease is found in the later stages, cats may live less than six months.
 
Early diagnosis can potentially quadruple (or more) your pet's life. Routine blood work and urine tests are the key to early detection. Be sure to talk with your neighborhood veterinarian about these testing options if you have noticed the warning signs listed above in your pet.
 
For more information on kidney disease in cats, refer to our Kidney Disease Handout.
 
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