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Chronic renal failure in Cats2014/02/12

Chronic renal failure – What is it?

Chronic renal failure or CRF (now often called Chronic kidney disease or CKD) is probably the most common condition affecting old cats worldwide including in Hong Kong.

 Usually it’s a progressive condition deteriorating over months and years, although the exact time span of the disease being very variable and up to the individual cats.

The kidneys are responsible for the fluid balance in the body, for producing a hormone needed in red blood cell production, as well as cleaning the blood and removing toxins or waste products from the body in the urine.

Because of its complex jobs, when the kidneys aren’t working normally, there are many body systems that are affected. So in fact, there are many symptoms of feline kidney disease, and they can be variable from one individual cat to another. They can be subtle and slow changes, or they can even be severe and sudden.

Some science:

Kidneys possess thousands of microscopic funnel-shaped tubes called nephrons. The role of these nephrons is to filter and reabsorb fluid.

In young cats, there are so many nephrons that some are kept in reserve. As the cat ages or in kidney damage/disease, some nephrons stop functioning and the reserve or spare nephrons take over and start working.

With no nephrons left in reserve, in CRF as the damage to the kidneys continues, signs of renal failure will start to appear. But because of the system of reserve or spare nephrons, actually there are no signs of kidney problems until the damage is really quite bad already.

When two thirds of the nephrons are destroyed, the kidneys don’t function well and the cats will pass larger amounts of dilute urine. But it’s not actually until almost 75 percent of nephrons in both kidneys are damaged, that the blood Creatinine levels are elevated on blood test.

What to do to prevent problems:

Consider a moisture-dense diet over the whole life. Or at least access to a lot of drinking water every day. This takes a lot of stress off the kidneys.

Regular veterinary check up’s and close monitoring of all the body systems. This way you can identify risks and subtle changes long before any kidney failure occurs.

How Homevet can help:

Actually we are usually able to help a great deal with this disease. We can do blood pressure tests at home as CRF often results in hypertension and so it’s important to check this. We can do kidney ultrasound and blood tests at home. By doing some of these tests at home such as the blood pressure, we are able to keep the cats living a fairly happy life without too many trips to the clinic. And home blood pressure testing possibly allows a more accurate reading as the cats are calmer at home normally. Also we are able to help you with sub-cutaneous fluids administration at home which is very useful for this condition when it becomes advanced.