Pet Tips on 95.3 The Beach: Kidney Disease in Cats

Dr. Joel Conn’s segment “Pet Tips” aired Monday on 95.3 The Beach! The topic was “Kidney Disease in Cats.”  Tune in every Friday morning at 10:40am to hear more Pet Tips!

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This week on Pet Tips we’re going to talk about Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats.

Chronic kidney disease is an extremely common condition in cats, affecting virtually every senior cat to some degree.  In all mammals, the kidneys serve to help conserve water, eliminate waste products from the body, and produce a number hormones required for normal function.  Kidneys are made up of millions of tiny pumps, called nephrons,, that filter the blood and produce urine.

Disease of the kidneys occurs when these nephrons begin to die off.  Once 70% of the total functional kidney mass has been lost, we start to see evidence of kidney disease.

Symptoms of kidney disease include increased thirst, increased urination, gradual weight loss, and in advanced disease poor appetite or anorexia, and even vomiting or diarrhea.  Cats that have developed any of these symptoms, should be seen by a veterinarian.

Kidney disease cannot be diagnosed on physical exam alone and typically your veterinarian will recommend a blood panel and urinalysis.  Cats with kidney disease are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections and high blood pressure, so a urine culture and blood pressure measurement may also be recommended.

Though we cannot cure kidney failure without kidney transplant (which is in fact offered by several referral hospitals throughout the country), there are many things that you can do to help delay the progression of the disease once your cat has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. 

Diet can play an important part in preserving kidney function.   There are numerous prescription diets available that promote water intake, help with electrolyte balance and are low in protein, as protein is damaging to the kidneys.  Encourage your cat to drink more water by providing extra water dishes and by adding things like chicken broth or tuna juice to one of the dished to make it more enticing.  Your vet may also recommend giving occasional fluids under the skin if the kidney disease is more advanced.  In severe cases, initial hospitalization at the time of diagnosis may be extremely beneficial. 

The most important thing with chronic kidney disease is to identify symptoms early on and perform regular blood work to catch things before they have progressed.

This is Dr. Joel Conn from Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic.  I’ll be back next week with more pet tips.   For more information, visit us online at, check us out on Facebook, or come see us at 990 Price Street, Pismo Beach.   We are open 7 days a week.

Veterinarian/Owner of Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic

Posted in News, Pet Tips
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