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C2008-28

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. My veterinarian gave me a long list of treatments, from diet to fluid therapy to medications. Can you tell me the goal of each of these treatments?

Christopher Responds

Chronic renal failure (CRF) affects one in ten cats, most of them elderly.

Without a kidney transplant, it’s difficult to improve kidney function, so the goal of treatment is to delay the progression of CRF, improve quality of life and extend survival.

Prescription diets low in protein, phosphorus and sodium improve appetite and minimize nausea and vomiting.
Studies show that cats fed prescription renal diets live more than twice as long as cats on conventional maintenance diets.

Fluids may be injected subcutaneously (under the skin) to reverse the dehydration that occurs when the failing kidneys are unable to concentrate urine.

Supplements restore normal levels of vitamins and potassium, preventing muscle weakness and progression of kidney failure. Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful as well.

Finally, medications are prescribed to prevent appetite loss and vomiting, keep protein from being excreted by the failing kidneys, maintain normal calcium and phosphorus levels, prevent anemia and control the high blood pressure that occurs in 20 percent of cats with CRF.

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