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Understanding Renal Failure in Cats

Instead of a product review this week (I am waiting on my tester, Isis, to test out the product I wanted to review this week), I am sharing this article Isis’ vet sent to me.  It deals with renal failure and is a good read:

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Acute renal failure and chronic renal failure are two health problems that commonly affect cats. Acute renal failure can affect cats at any age; emergency care is essential to treating this condition and saving a cat’s life. Chronic renal failure typically occurs in senior cats. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, 49% of all cats over the age of 15 are affected by chronic renal disease. With the diagnosis of kidney problems and renal failure in cats increasingly common, it is essential that cat owners learn the symptoms of this disease and how best to manage the disease.

Kidneys play a critical role in day-to-day functions. The kidneys remove metabolic waste from the blood stream, and produce vital hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.  The kidneys follow a complex system for managing and regulating waste; when this system breaks down, severe complications may occur to a cat’s other organs that can ultimately lead to death.

Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure is caused by a blockage in the blood flow to the kidneys or the urine away from the kidneys, or due to damage to the kidney tissue itself.  The most common cause for acute renal failure is the ingestion of toxic substances such as antifreeze, anti inflammatory drugs, or lilies.  When acute renal failure is detected and treated early, a full recovery is possible.  Although many times the cat will have only a partial recovery from the acute crisis, and eventually go into chronic renal failure,

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is an incurable condition primarily affecting older cats. It is often the end-stage for other health problems, such as advanced dental disease or a kidney inflammation/obstruction. Thanks to veterinary care advancements, however, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is often possible to give the cat a good quality of life for many years.

Treatment for renal failure depends on the condition’s cause and severity. In the case of acute renal failure, if a kidney is blocked by an obstruction, it may be possible to surgically remove the blockage and correct the problem. For chronic renal failure, treatment focuses on diet, fluids, and medications to control secondary problems, such as high blood pressure and anemia that may occur.

There are many brands of diets made for kidney problems in the cat; all have a reduced amount of protein and phosphorus, and may have added potassium.  Talk to your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet.

The main treatment for both kinds of kidney failure is fluids.  Hospitalization with intensive fluid therapy is required for acute kidney failure, and often also used for the more severe stage of chronic.  Once the cat is stabilized, many veterinarians will have you give fluids subcutaneously at home.  They will teach you how to give the special fluid under the skin.  Cats are surprisingly tolerant of this.

Other medications may include appetite stimulants, stomach acid reducers such as Pepcid, phosphate binders, potassium supplements, and injectable erythropoietin, which is used to stimulate red blood cell production in the anemic cat.  It is very common for cats with kidney problems to have high blood pressure, and therefore need hypertension medication.
While kidney problems are very common in they cat, the disease can often be managed well for many years.

Could My Cat Have Kidney Failure?

Renal failure can occur in cats of any age, although senior cats are at increased risk for chronic renal failure. For both acute and chronic renal failure, early diagnosis can make a significant difference for a cat’s long-term health prognosis.

As a cat owner, look out for the following symptoms of kidney problems in your cats:
•    Increased water consumption and urination, or greatly reduced water consumption
•    Increased amount of urine in the litter box
•    Marked weight loss/loss of appetite
•    Vomiting

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from chronic or acute renal failure, contact your veterinarian. Your cat’s life may depend upon it.


American Association of Feline Practitioners, “Feline Chronic Renal Disease.”

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Diagnosis: Kidney Disease.”


Cats And Rapid Weight Loss

The article I will share is a great lesson to learn in observing your cat and their behaviors, patterns and general health.

The lady in the case profiled in the article lead a busy life and had cats that were 10 years old.  She noticed that there was more voiding in the litter box than usual, but attributed it to the fact that her cats were getting older and that it came with age.

After a while, the excessive voiding started to bother her and she took her cat to the vet.  Right away he was x-rayed and his blood was tested and found that his Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) was elevated and thus the thinking was that he had kidney function issues.

He was dehydrated and was given fluid via IV.  It was a difficult and stressful time for both the vet and pet parent.

To read more about what happened click here.

Also, here is an article that talks about kidney failure.  I would not follow any of the advice on these articles before speaking to your vet and see what they say is a good plan of action for treating your cat.

One of the take home lessons from this article is that if something seems off with your fur baby, a trip to the vet wouldn’t hurt just to rule out anything nasty such as this.


Cats And Hairballs – What You Need To Know

We’ve all heard it from time to time, that dreaded hurking sound that cats make just before regurgitating a lovely hairball onto the carpet, even though the floor is about 2 feet away.  They just have to do it on the carpet (I know I should be nicer, it’s mostly because cats use the carpet because they cannot get a grip on the floor when they start to bring up the hairball).  But when is this a cause for concern and when is it fairly normal?

Cats from time to time will throw up hairballs (they are not coughing them up, they are regurgitating them, they stay in the digestive system until hair is passed either through the bowels or through the mouth, hairballs are not stuck in the lungs as some people may think).

If your cat is throwing up more than once a month, this could mean a disease rather than hairballs.  Some diseases could be: kidney failure, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, and many other ailments, so if this is something that happens often with your cat, a trip to the vet would be in order.

Ways to help combat hairballs would be to brush your cat daily.  Cats spend about 10% of their waking hours grooming themselves, so if you get rid of a decent amount of shedding hair by brushing them daily, you are helping to ease the amount of hair they will swallow.

Sometimes people will use Olive Oil in their food (about a half teaspoon) to get the hair to pass through their digestive system and evacuated through their bowels faster.

You can also use hairball treatments.  These can be given as needed.  When I used them, I would smear a bit on the top of Isis’ paw about two hours after she ate.  You want them to have it on as empty a stomach as possible so that it adheres to the fur stuck in their stomach.

If you want to find out more about how to stop hairballs, this is an article that can help.  The only part I would omit is mentioning that dry kibble especially for hairballs is useful.  That part is not true.  Dry kibble doesn’t really do much for hairballs.