Chronic kidney disease is a common ailment that cats can suffer from as they age. VCA Animal Hospitals estimates that 30-40% of cats over ten years old and 81% of cats over 15 years old will experience chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, cats often do not show symptoms of the disease until they have already lost a significant amount of kidney function – sometimes up to 75%. While there is no cure for kidney disease in cats, there are measures you can take to prevent it.
1. See the Vet Regularly
Frequent vet visits are crucial to monitor your cat’s health and catch any issues early. It’s recommended that you visit the vet yearly until your cat is seven years old, and then twice a year after that. During these visits, the vet can screen for chronic kidney disease with a simple blood test, which can detect the disease in the early stages. An early diagnosis allows for early treatment, which can help improve your cat’s quality of life.
2. Make Going to the Bathroom Easy
Urinating is essential for your cat to remove toxins from the body and prevent waste from backing up. Ensure that your cat has a stress-free bathroom environment by making litter boxes readily accessible and appealing. Have one litter box per cat, plus an extra box, and keep them in quiet spots on each level of your home. Clean the litter boxes daily by scooping out waste, and empty and clean them once a week with hot water and soap. Pay attention to your cat’s bathroom habits, and seek veterinary care if you notice any unusual symptoms.
3. Encourage Fresh Water Consumption
Encouraging your cat to drink plenty of fresh water will help flush toxins out of their body and keep their kidneys functioning correctly. Keep water bowls in various locations around the house, change the water once or twice daily, and include tuna juice or chicken broth in their diet to make drinking water more appealing. Feeding wet food in place of dry food or mixing wet food with kibble can also help increase water consumption, as can giving ice cubes or using a water fountain.
4. Manage Weight
There is a strong correlation between weight gain and diabetes in both humans and cats. Weight gain can also lead to kidney disease as high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and cause high blood pressure, which can damage the kidneys. Consult with a veterinarian to determine how much food your cat should eat per day, and accurately measure their food. Avoid free-feeding, and save some of your cat’s calorie intake for healthy treats.
5. Keep Toxins and Medications Out of Reach
Certain plants and medications are toxic to cats and can cause significant kidney damage. It’s essential to research any plants or flowers you want to bring into your home to ensure they are safe for your cat. Always store medication safely, including human and cat medication. If your cat accidentally ingests a toxic substance, contact and visit your vet immediately.
Notice the Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease is essential so you can seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Symptoms include increased thirst, more frequent urination, weight loss, fur loss, selective appetite, vomiting, mouth ulcers, and weakness or lethargy. Even if you notice just one symptom, schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible.
In summary, chronic kidney disease is a common ailment in cats, but preventative measures can help improve your cat’s quality of life. Regular vet visits, making going to the bathroom easy, encouraging fresh water consumption, managing weight, and keeping toxins and medication out of reach can all help prevent kidney disease. Keep an eye out for symptoms and seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you notice any signs of kidney disease. Your cat’s health is worth investing in, and preventative measures can go a long way towards ensuring your furry friend has a long and healthy life.