Your cat’s kidneys play a key role in maintaining hydration, balancing salt and water content in their body, regulating blood pressure, and filtering toxins. Healthy kidneys metabolize protein and excrete waste, but as your cat ages, their kidneys start to fail. When left untreated, kidney disease can cause a number of health problems or even death.
The vet always remarks on the beautiful coats and good health of our 16-year-old cats. – Catherine B., Washington
What Causes Kidney Disease
Although often times the cause is unknown1, there are many potential triggers for kidney disease (also sometimes called chronic renal disease or chronic renal failure) such as:
- Malformation of the kidneys at birth
- Chronic bacterial infections
- High blood pressure
- Exposure to toxins
- Immune system disorders
Telltale symptoms of kidney disease include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Poor coat condition
- Excessive thirst and urination
Unfortunately, symptoms are not usually noticeable in the beginning stages of kidney disease. Approximately 70% of renal function is usually lost before symptoms are noticeable, since only 30% of kidney capacity is needed for normal functioning in cats.
If your cat is experiencing any of the above symptoms we recommend consulting your veterinarian. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis, since kidney disease can exhibit similar symptoms to other diseases.
Depending on the type of veterinarian you see, the recommended treatment will be different.
A traditional veterinarian will likely tell you that a diet low in protein is the optimal diet for cats suffering from kidney disease, while a fresh diet of species-appropriate protein (i.e. animal protein) is recommended by holistic vets and professionals trained in nutritional therapy.
Traditional veterinarians believe that less protein will create less stress on the kidneys. Additionally, a fresh diet of species-appropriate protein (i.e. animal protein) is recommended by holistic vets and professionals trained in nutritional therapy.
However, not all proteins are created equal. According to Dr. Karen Becker, “If your cat is addicted to a food with rendered ingredients, meaning if your cat is eating a poor quality food that is difficult to digest and process, I do recommend you reduce the amount of toxic protein in the diet. However, if your cat is eating high quality protein sourced from real animals, then protein restriction is often counterproductive and actually exacerbates common health issues for cats with failing kidneys,” says Dr. Karen Becker.
Of course, any vet-prescribed treatment or medication should not be avoided or discontinued in lieu of a healthy diet. Kidney disease is a life-long condition, and a combination of a healthy diet and treatment can give your cat many more happy years.
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