If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney failure, it can be a worrying time. Your vet is likely to suggest a range of tests to determine the severity of your cat’s kidney disease. This staging process helps your vet make important decisions on everything from choosing the right diet, to whether your cat needs medication to support their kidneys or to lower their blood pressure.
While your vet is the best source of advice, there are several things that you can do at home to help manage kidney disease in your cat – from helping with finicky appetites, to making sure your cat gets their medication, here are our top tips:
1. Encourage your cat to drink
Cats with chronic kidney disease have a reduced ability to concentrate their urine and are more likely to become dehydrated. Despite the fact that cats with kidney disease usually drink more than normal, it’s still important to encourage fluid intake. Here’s what you can do:
- Provide multiple water bowls in different areas of the house
- Place food and water bowls in separate locations
- Place water bowls away from litter trays and busy parts of the house
- Consider using a water fountain, as cats often prefer to drink from flowing water
2. Tempt your cat to eat
Reduced appetite is a common sign of kidney disease in cats. To entice your cat to eat, why not try the following:
- Offer wet food, which may be more appealing to finicky eaters
- Serve food at room temperature or warm it slightly to enhance its aroma and taste
- Make sure your cat has peace and quiet to eat
- Feed small frequent meals instead of one larger offering
- Avoid a ‘buffet’ of choice as this can be overwhelming
- Observe your cat’s preference for bowl material (plastic, metal or ceramic) and cater to their liking
- Consider hand feeding small morsels to encourage eating
3. Consult your vet for dietary recommendations
As well as how to feed, what to feed is a key part of managing kidney disease in cats. The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) Guidelines1 recommend that all cats from IRIS stage two (with a mild increase in kidney blood test results) to stage four (with a severe increase), should be fed a specially formulated renal diet. Your vet will advise you on the most suitable renal diet for your cat.
And we all know cats can be particular when it comes to food, so if your cat is reluctant to eat the recommended diet, consult your vet to find alternative options that ensure regular food intake while still supporting kidney function.
4. Book an appointment for a blood pressure check
A blood pressure measurement is in integral part of the staging process that your vet uses to plan your cat’s treatment. Many cats with kidney disease have high blood pressure and left untreated, high blood pressure can contribute to a decline in kidney function, and increase the risk of damage to organs like the brain, heart and eyes. The good news is that your vet can prescribe medication to help manage your cat’s kidney disease, including medication to treat high blood pressure.
5. Make sure your cat gets their medication regularly
If your vet has prescribed blood pressure medication, it is important that you give this regularly as directed, and since high blood pressure often shows no outward signs, it’s important to continue the medication even if your cat seems fine. In fact, once high blood pressure is causing visible signs of illness, irreversible damage may have been done.
Managing kidney failure in cats can be challenging, but by working closely with your vet to develop a comprehensive treatment plan, and by providing plenty of TLC at home, you can ensure the best possible care for your feline companion.
- ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Diagnosis and management of Feline CKD, 2016