Cats are frequently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), particularly older cats. The words chronic renal failure, chronic kidney insufficiency, and simply kidney or renal illness are all used to describe this disorder. They all indicate that the cat’s kidneys are not operating at their best. Acute kidney disease, which can affect anyone at any age and is brought on by a sudden occurrence such consuming antifreeze, blood clots, a bacterial infection, or kidney stones, is different from chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The Four Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease
Cats, particularly older cats, are susceptible to chronic kidney disease (CKD). This disorder is known by a variety of names, including chronic renal failure, chronic kidney insufficiency, and just kidney or renal disease. They all signify that the cat’s kidneys are not working as they should. CKD is distinct from acute renal disease, which can hit at any age and is brought on by an unexpected occurrence, such as consuming antifreeze, clotting, contracting a bacterial infection, or developing kidney stones.
When the kidneys are functioning properly, the body’s waste is removed like a filter. They control the levels of electrolytes like potassium and phosphorus, and they also create erythropoietin, which promotes the creation of red blood cells. Rennin, which is produced by the kidneys and helps to control blood pressure, Vitamin D is converted by the kidneys into its active form, which regulates the body’s calcium balance.
Cats may not even exhibit symptoms when renal function is impaired at first. Early detection and treatments are crucial since the disease progresses and the harm is irreparable.
To determine the urine’s concentration, your veterinarian will perform a urinalysis and a blood chemistry panel. As kidney function declines, urine concentration falls. Additional tests to rule out infection may also be suggested by your veterinarian.
Stages of CKD
After kidney disease is identified, it is “staged,” which refers to a decision regarding the illness’s progression based on lab results. CKD progresses through four stages.
Stage 1: When the blood creatinine level—a sign of how well the kidneys are functioning—is less than 1.6, less than 66% of renal function has been lost. Cats in Stage 1 are most likely not going to exhibit any clinical symptoms.
Stage 2: When the creatinine level is between 1.6 and 2.8, it indicates that the kidneys have lost 66% to 75% of their function. At this point, clinical symptoms are frequently negligible or nonexistent.
Stage 3: When the level of creatinine is between 2.9 and 5.0, 76% to 90% of renal function is lost. At this point, kidney disease symptoms such as increased urine and thirst, weight loss, an appetite loss, and weakness are typically evident. In order to preserve remaining renal function and ward against dehydration at this point, cats may benefit from subcutaneous fluid therapy.
Stage 4: When the creatinine level exceeds 5.0, renal function has been reduced by at least 90%. Cats are frequently seriously ill at this point. Lethargy, poor grooming, and loss of appetite may be extremely noticeable. Cats could require fluid delivery more often.
See the IRIS (International Renal Interest Society) Staging Guidelines for a more in-depth examination of the stages of CKD.
Although there is no known treatment for CKD, good care can keep cats happy and healthy for months or even years following diagnosis. The goal of therapy is to slow the progression of the disease by reducing the accumulation of toxic waste products in the bloodstream, ensuring adequate hydration, addressing electrolyte concentration disturbances, supporting appropriate nutrition, controlling blood pressure, and addressing these issues.
After your cat has been given a CKD diagnosis, you should regularly monitor its progression with your vet, but always remember that you’re treating the cat, not the lab results. Although your cat’s test results might suggest that she is nearing the end of the disease, she might still look and act normal.