What is Feline Chronic Renal Failure?

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Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, results from the inability of the kidneys to function properly. When they are healthy, kidneys perform several functions, including removing the waste products of metabolism from your pet’s blood, regulating the volume and composition of body fluids, producing hormones that stimulate production of red blood cells, and controlling blood pressure. Once the kidneys do their job, the by-products produced as a result of the metabolic process are excreted in the form of urine. It’s not hard to understand that the kidneys work the hardest when your cat is fed a commercial diet; a diet that is unnatural for your cats system and can cause CRF.

There are two kinds of kidney failure. The first is known as chronic kidney failure, which occurs when the kidneys can no longer perform the crucial functions of excreting waste products, producing hormones, and regulating the chemical composition of body fluids. In this case, kidney function decreases slowly over a long period of time, which means the physical signs may appear gradually.

The second type is known as acute kidney failure. It is characterized by an abrupt decline in kidney function that leads to changes in body chemistry, including alterations in fluid and mineral balances. These changes negatively affect almost every system in the body. The physical signs are more dramatic with acute kidney failure because kidney function declines quickly.

What causes CRF – Feline kidney failure?

There are many possible causes of kidney failure (CRF), but the most common is that the kidneys simply “wear out” due to age. Kidney failure can also be caused by ingestion of toxic substances, such as many kinds of commercial foods laced with preservatives and cooked ingredients, antifreeze, some anti-inflammatory drugs, certain types of antibiotics. In addition, some types of infections may cause kidney function to decline.

What are the physical signs your cat might be experiencing CRF?

Any of the following CRF symptoms may be indicators of kidney failure:

  • Excessive drinking of water
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Not eating for a day or more
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination when walking
  • Depression
  • Weight loss or wasting of muscle tissue (muscle tissue loss is also caused by old age and lack of activity)

How can I prevent CRF or feline kidney failure in my cat?

Most commonly, pets develop kidney failure as they age because their kidneys “wear out.” In this case, it is not possible to prevent the failure, although it is possible to treat it. Outdoor cats and dogs are at greater risk of kidney failure because they are more frequently exposed to anti-freeze. Ingestion of even a small amount of antifreeze can be fatal.

Allopathic veterinarians recommendations for prevention of kidney failure are:

  • Allowing frequent attempts to urinate.
  • Providing access to fresh water at all times.
  • Avoiding exposure to antifreeze by minimizing your pet’s time spent outdoors unsupervised.
  • Feed a balanced raw diet low in protein.
  • Give natural kidney support remedies from your veterinarian.

Holistic veterinarians generally suggest a nutritionally balanced raw diet because it is closest to your pet’s natural diet.

What type of cat is most susceptible to feline CRF?

The prevalence of kidney failure increases with age. Cats and small dogs show early signs at about ten to fourteen years of age, while large dogs may experience kidney failure much earlier.

Kidney failure is seen more frequently in cats than in dogs, and certain breeds are more prone to developing kidney problems. However, all breeds of dogs and cats can be affected, and at any age. It’s always good to have yearly blood work done on your pet, even at an early age, to establish baseline values that can be used for comparison later in your pet’s life if kidney failure or another disease is suspected. Also, to catch any possible illness early so you can treat and cure it early.

How is Feline CRF treated?

Tests are necessary to diagnose acute and chronic kidney failure and to rule out other diseases. Blood and urine samples are used to test for values related to various kidney functions and to make sure that infection is not the cause of the physical signs of CRF.

Acute kidney failure is potentially reversible, whereas chronic renal failure is not.

Pets experiencing chronic kidney failure may not respond to treatment at all or may live another few months or even years. An acute kidney problem can become a chronic problem. Your veterinarian can differentiate between acute and chronic failure based on history, physical examinations, and laboratory testing. A kidney biopsy may be required to give an accurate prognosis for your pets life span.

Both chronic and acute kidney failure can be life-threatening conditions requiring hospitalization along with a very expensive vet bill!

Treatment may include:

  • Intravenous fluids
  • A special diet to decrease protein and salt intake
  • Medication for high blood pressure
  • Hospitalization and supportive care
  • Control of vomiting and gastrointestinal problems with diet and drug therapy
  • Medications for anemia (decreased red-blood cell production)
  • Potassium supplementation
  • Natural remedies to support the kidney and immune system that only your holistic veterinarian can give you.

After your pet leaves the hospital, have blood tests and urinalysis repeated as recommended by your veterinarian. Be sure to administer any prescribed medications and to feed your pet as directed. Some owners can administer subcutaneous fluid to their pets at home. If necessary, your veterinarian can provide instructions if this. Following care instructions and working closely with your veterinarian will give your pet a better quality of life during treatment and may help prolong your pet’s life.

The Feline Renal Support nutritional supplement from Standard Process is a very good renal detoxifier and helps to maximize kidney function in cats. Give one or two a day. We give their Renafood pills (human formula) to all our cats to help prevent early stages of renal failure from the age of 6 years old. Most cats eat them readily if they are crushed into the food.

Anna Maria Gardner DVM, M.A. M.B. Holistic Veterinarian at Pet Synergy says:
“A natural raw food diet can be very beneficial to cats with mild to moderate renal failure, who are under veterinarian care. Feline Instincts´ Kidney Support cat food supplement diet is modified to contain lower protein and higher fat, with B- vitamins that are so essential in renal failure. The kidneys can manage the lower protein intake and yet still enjoy the benefits of a raw food diet which is so much healthier for their bodies. Your holistic veterinarian can also prescribe natural remedies to help support your cat’s kidneys along with this diet.”


Got a CRF Kitty?
Help it get healthier by changing to a raw diet, supplemented with “My Natural Cat”.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of your veterinarian. Please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have questions regarding your CRF and your pet’s health.