Your cat’s kidneys called - they say we don't talk enough so pick up the phoneThis is going to be the most different article about cats and their kidneys that I’ve ever written.
Imagine there is a room full of cats. Sophisticated cats living within the world of C.S. Lewis’s
“The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. The cats are filling up the aisles and are seated,
waiting for the keynote presentation at their international public health conference to begin. The
Steve Jobs of the cat world is going to talk tonight. There is an air of excitement, change and
Persians have filled the first three rows, having bought their tickets six months in advance from
their agent in Dubai. In rows four to eight, everyone is shuffling so they don't have to sit behind
the Maine Coons. Everyone remembers how their big heads and fluffy butts blocked the stage
last year. The sleek alley cats fill the backbench, with their green eyes just visible through a
haze of smoke. Even though they were frisked at the door, they still managed to bring in enough
green grassy stuff in their pockets. They don't pass the ‘nip to the Ragdolls, who already look
like they had enough last night at the meet and greet. The cats who eat “Whizkaz” food
stand in the aisles closest to the toilets. They are constantly running back and forth from the
john, wondering if they too are going to end up with the rumoured “crystals of pee”.
Huffing and puffing up and down the aisles, serving drinks and running the coat check are all
the youtube cats who burned out after their 15 viral minutes of fame. One says to the other “If I
could only make a new reality video. Anyone have a piano?”
These sophisticated cats are presenting their own pressing social issues, and the top discussion
goes like this:
“The humans don't check my kidneys.”
“Top ten ways to get a human to check your blood kidney scores”
“I’m Twilight's Edward and you’re Bella - Take my blood if you love me”
There is a nervous tension in the room. The cats know that for every 10 of them in the room, 3
on average will have undetected kidney issues that can steal years from their lives. From the fat
cats to the viral YouTube kitties, it doesn't matter where they have been or what row they are
sitting in. It affects them all.
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS TO YOUR CAT:
Your cat has new requirements to maintain optimum health and maximize its longevity if you
detect CKD (chronic kidney disease). While many people come into the clinic looking for the
health check with a possible vaccination, I really want them to have a health check with a
possible blood sample. Above kittenhood, it is that much more important to me. If you find CKD,
the body is requesting some changes. The earlier you are aware of this request, the better the
outlook for your cat, and they can still live for decades. My own cat is 19 with his CKD, and is
doing great as can be seen in the video!
WHAT DOES CKD LOOK LIKE?
It can look like everything and nothing at all. Cats with CKD can look perfectly normal at one
end of the spectrum, but it can also be responsible for weight loss, excessive thirst and peeing,
lack of appetite, vomiting, constipation, lethargy, and changes in their coat for starters. It can
cause anemia, and be associated with hypertension. It can effect a whole host of other
physiological or electrolyte issues in the body.
The key here is not to freak out. If you find CKD in your cat, it doesn't mean he’s then got to be
given drugs forever or life support. In fact, if you find it early, you will be ahead of the curve for
satisfying the body’s new requirements. Solutions come in the form of nutrition, supplements,
antacids, SQ fluids, medications and eliminating predisposing factors. Your work together with
your vet is to find your cat's combination of requirements. They can live a very long time.
I kind of hate the term CKD as it can make people feel hopeless. Others call it chronic renal
failure which I despise even more as it only fits a clinical syndrome certain cats go through (and
it implies that you can’t do anything about it). I often call it “chronic renal insufficiency” when
caught early. As in “Hey, we found this on your cat's annual bloodwork, and his kidneys, while
they are working, have become less efficient at their job”. I don’t regret finding CKD - because I
view it as an opportunity to help them live long.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:
You need info. Lots of good, proactive info. I want you to become an expert on the subject.
Each cat has a unique combination of requirements for CKD. For my 19-year-old cat (and many
others like him), success has come in part by giving him SQ fluids. Look at the SQ fluids video
and all the information in it. This covers just one aspect of extending the quality of life and
longevity of a cat with CKD. A separate video could be made for each and every one of the
issues they could face. As people who are invested in the health and longevity of our cats, your
best success will come from learning and implementing.
I diagnose or discuss kidney issues in cats every single day. Approximately 30 % of the cat
population has this issue. This is VERY surprising for people, who are often devastated with the
knowledge that some illness was brewing all along, and they were the last person to know. The
irony is that even though you know your cat better than anyone else, they are really good
at hiding their issues from the ones they love the most (just like people). If a cat could write a
diary about their kidney function, it would have a titanium padlock on it!
We are going to pick those locks open. We can give our cats what they need to live longer and
Have questions about kidney issues in cats or SQ fluids? You can ask Dr. Kris in our special expert forum to be hosted on July 21st, 2014. The link will be posted here when we open the forum for questions.