We all adore our pets and really want them to be healthy, happy and well, but managing a disease can be very difficult. Kidney disease in cats is a condition that can be managed and treated, and part of that is creating a diet for your pet that is suitable for their condition. Let’s take a look at this condition and at how you can choose the right foods for cats with kidney disease.
What is Kidney Disease in Cats?
Kidneys are the organs that remove waste from the blood, so they are an essential part of the system that ensures your cat has the nutrients it needs and is getting rid of any waste products that it doesn’t need. The kidneys also play a role in the production of blood cells and in managing blood pressure. So they are very important organs that the cat cannot live without.
Cats are prone to kidney deterioration as they grow older. While kidney disease can occur in younger cats, it is much more common in older cats. It can be caused by a number of things, including infection, injury, or toxins. Acute kidney disease can happen quite suddenly. For example, as a result of a severe infection, trauma, consumption of a toxin or poison, or a blockage. This is an urgent condition which requires treatment, and it may lead to long term kidney problems. Chronic kidney disease is a long term condition that develops more slowly. This is a degenerative condition; it gets worse as the cat ages.
Kidney disease can be managed, and many cats live normal lives for years after a diagnosis. It will require regular veterinary care and monitoring, and it will require a special diet consisting of suitable foods for cats with kidney disease as certain nutrients should be restricted in order to support the cat’s health when the kidneys are not functioning well.
Foods for Cats with Kidney Disease
It really is essential that cats suffering from kidney problems are fed on foods for cats with kidney disease. The normal store-bought cat food will undoubtedly contain many unsuitable ingredients that could lead to further deterioration of the kidneys. The idea behind a special kidney diet for cats is to take the pressure off the kidneys by making their job easier. This means reducing phosphorus, first of all. Kidneys that are not functioning well struggle to remove waste phosphorus and studies have shown that reducing the level of phosphorus in cats with kidney problems does lead to better outcomes.
Food for cats with kidney disease is also low in protein. This means swapping out protein-rich foods with those that are relatively low in protein. Many regular cat foods are rich in protein, and this is fine for healthy cats. In cats with kidney disease, protein should be reduced. Sodium should also be kept low, as high levels of sodium force the kidneys to work harder.
What Should Foods for Cats with Kidney Disease Contain?
There are many cat foods for cats with kidney disease that have been created with the specific nutritional needs of the kidneys in mind. These foods are low in the substances that the cat should be avoiding, such as phosphorus, protein and sodium, while containing other important nutrients to support the kidneys and improve the general health of the cat, such as antioxidants. They tend to be less acidic than cat foods designed for general use as well.
Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) have been shown to help cats with kidney disease. This can help support the kidneys and the general health of the cat. Fish oil is often added to specially formulated foods for cats with kidney disease, or you can get fish oil designed for cats in supplement form. It would be better if you always had a chat with the vet in charge of your cat’s care before deciding to give your pet a supplement.
Kidney Disease in Cats and Water Intake
As well as choosing the right foods for cats with kidney disease, pet owners also need to consider the fluid intake of their pet. Cats that have kidney problems tend to be more vulnerable to dehydration and may be thirsty more often. Ensuring the cat is drinking enough water to stay hydrated is a good way to support the kidneys and slow down the progress of the disease. Encouraging cats to drink can be difficult (encouraging cats to do anything that wasn’t their idea to begin with can be difficult!). You can encourage drinking by offering water in a range of different bowls for the cat to choose from. Remember that cats prefer to drink from wide shallow bowls or even plates as they prefer to keep their whiskers dry. Some cats prefer to drink rainwater to household water, so this is something to consider. Some cats prefer water with movement; a dripping tap or a bowl with a ping pong ball or ice cube in it might encourage them to drink! Never give a cat cow’s milk or brine to drink; this is especially dangerous for a cat with kidney problems.
Caring for a Cat with Kidney Disease
Cats that have existing kidney problems or who are vulnerable to developing them really do benefit from specific foods for cats with kidney disease. This is available from veterinarians, and it is always best to talk to your vet about the right food for your pet. Your vet may prescribe a specific food for your pet that will allow them to be happier and healthier for much longer than a normal store-bought diet would permit. Introduce the new food gradually and speak to your vet if the cat is reluctant to make the switch so that you can find a solution without having to revert back to a diet that may be harmful. With good care and some patience, your cat can enjoy many happy years despite being diagnosed with kidney issues. You can get more help and advice about kidney disease in cats from the International Cat Care website.