I found my beautiful black kitty Maya about a year and a half ago. Well, maybe she found me.
Anyway, she has had urinary problems since I’ve had her. So when I got a job in a vet clinic I decided to bring her in to check a urine sample. He decided to take x-rays to make sure she didn’t have any bladder stones. On the x-ray there were no bladder stones but he notice her kidney was a little oddly shaped. So we did some blood work and the results were definitely not what I expected. Kidney disease, or in other words, chronic renal failure.
I just can’t catch a break. My late best-cat-friend-love-of-my-life, Boo, died from chronic renal failure. It is a hard way to go because they just waste away until there is nothing left. And it’s a hard thing to watch when it’s your baby.
So what is this disease all about? It is very common in cats so I’ll provide some information on it because if you are an avid cat owner you will likely get firsthand experience with this at some point.
In order to know what happens when the kidneys fail, it first helps to know what the kidneys do while they are working.
- erythropoietin production, which is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production (without it anemia sets in).
- filtration of waste products in the blood (a build up of waste in the blood is going to make anyone feel sick).
- the ability to concentrate urine, which can affect hydration.
- renin production, which is a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure.
- electrolyte regulation
All of these functions are critical for a good quality of life. When these are impaired quality of life goes down, and will eventually get to a point where life ceases.
The bad thing about this disease is that symptoms don’t start to show up until the kidneys are about 70% destroyed. There is no cure but there are things you can do to slow the progression of the disease, although it will progress to the end unfortunately.
So what are the symptoms?
Maya’s symptom was an abnormal amount of water intake and urination. I kept thinking it was a UTI but it is actually one of the early symptoms of kidney disease. My advice to you: if you have a cat who is drinking a lot more than usual, spend the extra money on a blood test. Blood tests can either rule out kidney failure or show that it is happening. It is better to know early so you can start diet modifications and treatment, which in the end will extend the life of your companion.
Symptoms of more advanced renal failure include:
- decrease in appetite
- weight loss
- uremic breath (smells like ammonia)
There are different stages to kidney failure and the symptoms above don’t start to show up until the advanced stages. I could write a book on feline chronic renal failure so I’ll just stop with this introduction. I will add more posts at a later time with more specific information about this topic.
My goal for my life at this point: Become a veterinarian and find a cure/really great affordable treatment for feline chronic renal failure.