Kidney Disease in Cats
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located on either side of your cat’s lower back. When a cat eats and drinks, the nutrients from its food is absorbed into the body through the small intestines where the nutrients enter the blood stream to be delivered to tissue throughout the body. The kidneys’ job is to filter the blood to remove waste materials and excess moisture. Urine is produced in the kidneys then travels down the ureters to the bladder where it is stored until your dog urinates. By controlling the release of materials in the blood as well as water content, the kidneys help regulate electrolyte levels and blood pressure. Additionally, the kidneys produce hormones that are used in red blood cell production.
The function of a cat’s kidneys can slowly deteriorate with age. Medications, toxins (ex: antifreeze), chronic infection and trauma can all damage the kidneys. The first signs of kidney disease are big increases or decreases in the amount of water your cat drinks and how much they urinate. Other symptoms include lethargy, gastro-intestinal upset, loss of appetite, changes in breath odor, mouth ulcers and incoordination. Acute cases of kidney failure due to poisoning or contamination need to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately to flush the toxin out of the cat’s system and so they can provide supportive therapy. Untreated, kidney failure can be fatal.
Cats should visit their veterinarian on an annual basis, especially senior cats, for routine check-ups. Your vet can catch signs of chronic kidney disease by running blood and urine tests. Chronic kidney disease in older cats can be managed through diet and medication. Herbs such as astragalus root and rehmannia can help support kidney function.