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How to tell if your cat has renal failure? (and how to act?)

Did you think renal problems were a uniquely human disease? You were wrong. Cats also suffer from renal failure, a dysfunction of the kidneys, which stop working and removing harmful substances from the body.

Kidney failure is quite common in felines and it is estimated that between 10% and 30% of cats eventually develop kidney function problems. Cats over 10 years of age, outdoor cats and some breeds such as Siamese, Persian and Russian Blue are more prone to kidney failure.

How to tell if my cat has renal failure?

Renal failure is a difficult disease to detect, especially in the early stages. But it is important to act quickly at any sign, because if caught in time, we can extend the cat’s life expectancy and improve its wellbeing.

There are some symptoms that should raise red flags:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased water intake
  • Increased urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Loss of coat quality

What should I do if I detect any of these symptoms?

You should take your cat to the vet immediately, for tests (usually urinalysis, blood tests and ultrasound to assess the state of the kidneys).

Renal failure can be of two types, acute (sudden and more dangerous for the cat’s life) or chronic (degenerative and typical of cats over 10 years of age), but in either case it is a disease that cannot be cured. However, in the case of chronic disease, there are treatments and care that can allow your cat to live for years with a good quality of life.

How to care for a cat with renal failure?

There are several factors that will help a cat with renal failure to cope with the disease.

  • A suitable food. Your vet will probably recommend a food specifically formulated for felines suffering from renal failure. For example, Picart Select DIET Cat Urinary, which contains selected protein sources and a moderate level of protein (chicken as animal protein and maize, plasma and hydrolysed yeast as vegetable protein) to support kidney health in cats. Chicken proteins are also used for their high digestibility.
  • Proper hydration. Your cat should drink a specific amount of water (ask your vet what this amount is), if it drinks less it could become dehydrated. Clean water should always be available. If you detect that your cat is drinking less than necessary, take him to the vet.
  • A continuous veterinary check-up. Your cat should have a veterinary check-up approximately every 6 months. Bear in mind that renal failure sometimes leads to other diseases (anaemia, hypertension, etc.), so it is vital that your vet checks your cat a couple of times a year.

If you were interested in this article, be sure to read Picart’s post on cat food.

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