Cat Kidney Failure End Stage. Chronic kidney failure is more insidious. Though the exact causes are uncertain, chronic kidney failure is the result of an accumulation of injuries to the nephrons, which are the functional units of the kidney. These injuries may be due to a history of acute kidney failure, genetic disease, infection or the result of a long term, poorly understood inflammatory process. While the kidney can compensate for a good amount of injury, kidney failure becomes evident once two-thirds of the nephrons have been damaged.
Kidney failure falls into two main categories: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure is an abrupt onset of kidney damage, usually the result of toxins, infection or shock. Felines may present with a sudden onset of vomiting, weakness and dehydration. The cat may produce excessive urine or no urine at all, depending on how the kidney was damaged. Bloodwork often shows very elevated kidney enzymes and poorly concentrated urine. Acute renal failure is more common in younger cats than the chronic form.
Chronic Kidney Disease versus Chronic Kidney Failure You may also be frightened because your vet says your cat’s kidneys have failed. Fortunately, this may also not be as bad as it sounds. There are a number of different expressions used to describe chronic kidney disease. It used to be widely known as chronic renal failure (CRF), and for many years this website was known as Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Renal Failure. I decided to changed the name in 2011 and use the expression Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) instead. This was for two reasons. Firstly, it is the term most commonly used in the academic literature. Secondly, I think it more accurately reflects the nature of the disease, and focuses on the important word, “chronic” rather than on that awful word, “failure”, which tends to scare people, making them feel the end is nigh. Chronic means that CKD is an ongoing disease. This is good news, because it means that in many cases it can be managed. For this reason, some vets prefer to use the word “insufficiency” for early stage cases instead. Whatever expression your vet uses, try to focus on the chronic aspect of CKD.
What can a cat owner expect to witness as his cat moves closer to the end stages of renal insufficiency? As mentioned earlier, the kidneys manage the balance of nutrients and wastes within the system. The end stages of feline kidney disease result in a complete inability of the kidneys to function and, thus, the cat’s system becomes septic. Not all cats will show the exact same symptoms, but towards the end of your cat’s battle with renal disease you can expect a wasting of the animal’s body. Its coat will be dull, and its appetite lower. Since malnutrition is a side-effect of almost all degenerative disease, this symptom alone can lead to a multitude of secondary symptoms such as decreased immunity, vomiting, excessive thirst and frequent urination. The electrolyte imbalance caused by the kidneys’ inability to manage potassium and sodium will also affect the efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract, and this may cause constipation in your cat. This constipation will only be exacerbated by the extreme dehydration your cat will experience as a result of its body being unable to retain water. This dehydration will also affect your cat’s breath, causing an ammonia-like smell or an abominable case of halitosis.
Story at-a-glance – Chronic kidney disease means the kidneys are gradually and irreversibly deteriorating. This condition is a leading cause of death in domestic cats and is very common in older cats and certain breeds. There are several known triggers for kidney failure, but often no precise cause is identified. Since the kidneys perform so many vital functions in the body, the symptoms of disease are wide-ranging and affect many organ systems. When feline kidney disease is diagnosed, it is also staged according to its severity, with stage 1 the mildest form and stage 4 the most severe. Treatment depends on the severity of disease. Treatment goals for cats with kidney disease include controlling the buildup of waste products in the blood, delaying the progression of the disease, and maintaining the cat’s quality of life for as long as possible. The best way to prevent and manage chronic kidney disease in cats is to feed a moisture-dense, species-appropriate diet for life, along with vigilant monitoring of organ systems to identify risks and subtle changes as they arise.
Chronic kidney disease means the kidneys are gradually and irreversibly deteriorating. This condition is a leading cause of death in domestic cats and is very common in older cats and certain breeds. There are several known triggers for kidney failure, but often no precise cause is identified. Since the kidneys perform so many vital functions in the body, the symptoms of disease are wide-ranging and affect many organ systems. When feline kidney disease is diagnosed, it is also staged according to its severity, with stage 1 the mildest form and stage 4 the most severe. Treatment depends on the severity of disease. Treatment goals for cats with kidney disease include controlling the buildup of waste products in the blood, delaying the progression of the disease, and maintaining the cat’s quality of life for as long as possible. The best way to prevent and manage chronic kidney disease in cats is to feed a moisture-dense, species-appropriate diet for life, along with vigilant monitoring of organ systems to identify risks and subtle changes as they arise.
Donors for kidney transplants are found at shelters through compatibility testing. When a match is located, a kidney from the shelter kitty is transplanted into the cat with renal failure. The owner of the cat with renal failure must adopt the donor kitty. So in exchange for donating a kidney, the shelter kitty is provided a forever home.
Kidney disease, or kidney failure, is the most common major medical problem of older cats. Many cats survive with kidney disease for months or years after diagnosis. However, kidney disease generally is not curable. The disease is chronic and progressive, and over time causes fatality in most cases.
The kidneys are vital organs. This is true for both humans and cats, as well as for most other species within the animal kingdom. When one kidney is sick, the other will take over, but when both kidneys are failing, this produces a lethal condition within the body. The kidneys’ primary role is in managing the water content of the body and filtering wastes in order to maintain homeostasis. The kidneys manage the exact proportions of electrolytes and balance nutrients and hormones within the bloodstream. When the kidneys start to fail, the body eventually becomes toxic as wastes build up within the system. Early stages may produce weakness, infection and electrolyte imbalances. The end stages of feline kidney disease are fairly gruesome. Many end stage feline kidney disease patients are euthanized in order to mitigate their suffering.
As a leading cause of death in cats, kidney failure is one of the most dreaded diseases pet parents may face. While many cases are unpredictable and therefore difficult to prevent, knowing the risk factors and early signs are some of the best ways to catch kidney failure in its earliest stages.
When vets tell people there is no hope for their cat, it is usually based on test results as outlined above, particularly blood tests which show high kidney values. However, I have heard of vets who tell people their cat should be put to sleep without doing any tests at all, based purely on the cat acting sick. I don’t think this is appropriate. Your vet may be right, there may be no hope for your cat, but if you’re thinking of making the irrevocable decision to put your cat to sleep, you need proper, accurate information on which to base your decision.
Remember, however, that kidney failure suppresses appetite and can make cats more selective, or finicky, about diet. If a cat refuses to eat a prescribed diet for kidney failure, a new diet must be found.
So try not to worry too much about which stage your cat is in, especially since numbers can be artificially inflated at diagnosis. The stages are supposed to help the vet work out which treatments are likely to be needed, not encourage them to write off cats in the higher categories. Yes, your cat’s chances may be worse if your cat is – and remains – a high numbers cat; but some cats do well despite high numbers, so try treating the cat, not the numbers and see what happens.
o Diet. There is no need to switch to a kidney diet in stage I CKD. Kidney diets tend to be low in protein, which in later stages reduces the work load on the kidneys, but in early stages, protein is still good for kidneys, and needed for multiple other metabolic functions.
Chronic renal failure is an irreversible disease. The damage to the kidney cannot be fixed. Treatment goals for this form of kidney disease focus on slowing the progression of disease, in some cases for years. Diets with modified levels of protein and phosphorous are considered key elements of treatment, as is maintaining hydration with subcutaneous fluids as needed. In later stages of the disease, many felines benefit from blood pressure medication as well as medications to help with secondary gastrointestinal upset.
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