Chronic Renal Failure in Cats (CRF)

Our feline friends are living for longer and longer, however, their kidneys unfortunately don’t seem to have caught up to them yet.  Kidney failure in cats, or renal failure, is a very common condition in elderly cats, affecting around one in five cats over the age of 15. 

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that sit in the abdomen.  They have many, many important jobs, such as producing urine, processing toxins that are produced as a result of energy metabolism, maintaining the electrolyte and water balance in the body and producing erythropoietin, which is involved in red blood cell production.  So you can imagine that when the kidneys start to fail, the general health of the animal is profoundly affected.

Although there are some known causes of kidney failure, such as polycystic kidney disease, kidney tumors, infections and toxins, chronic renal failure in the majority of cases has no identifiable cause.  Symptoms of CRF in cats may include reduction of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, excessive drinking and urination and bad breath.  Diagnosis can be made with blood and urine testing. 

CRF is a progressive condition which, unfortunately, has no cure.  However, in many cases, it is manageable and progression of the disease can be slowed with dietary therapy and medication.  The cat will likely initially require fluid therapy, especially if he or she is dehydrated or has electrolyte imbalances.  In the long term, the vet may recommend prescription diets that are low in certain types of protein and phosphate, thus easier to process by the kidneys.  Medications such as phosphate binders, blood-pressure lowering drugs and anabolic steroids may also be used.  A kidney transplant may be an option, however, this is an expensive procedure with limited availability. Early diagnosis gives your beloved feline the best chance at a decent quality of life for the longest possible time.

Share this article with all your cat-loving friends so they can recognize any symptoms.

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