This is going to be the most different article about cats and their kidneys that I’ve ever written. Bear with me.
Imagine there is a room full of cats. Sophisticated cats living within the world of C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. The cats are filling up the aisles and are seated, waiting for the keynote presentation at their international public health conference to begin. The Steve Jobs of the cat world is going to talk tonight. There is an air of excitement, change and revolution!
Persians have filled the first three rows, having bought their tickets six months in advance from their agent in Dubai. In row four to eight, everyone is shuffling so they don't have to sit behind the Maine Coons. Everyone remembers how their big heads and fluffy butts blocked the stage last year. The sleek alley cats fill out the backbench, with their green eyes just visible through a haze of smoke. Even though they were frisked at the door, they still managed to bring in enough green grassy stuff in their pockets. They don't pass the ‘nip to the ragdolls, who already looked like they have had enough last night at the meet and greet. The cat’s who eat “whizkaz” food stand in the aisles closest to the toilets. They are constantly running back and forth from the john, wondering if they too are going to end up with the rumoured “crystals of pee”.
Huffing and puffing up and down the aisles, serving drinks and running the coat check are all the youtube cats who burned out after their 15 viral minutes of fame. One says to the other “if I could only make a new reality video; Anyone have a piano?”
These sophisticated cats are presenting their own pressing social issues, and the top discussion goes like this:
“The humans don't check my kidneys”.
“Top ten ways to get a human to check your blood kidney scores”
"I'm Bella and you're Edward - take my blood if you love me"
There is a nervous tension in the room. The cat’s know that for every 10 of them in the room, 3 on average will have undetected kidney issues that can steal years from their lives. From the fat cats to the viral youtube kitty’s, it doesn't matter where they have been or what row they are sitting in. It affects them all.
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS TO YOUR CAT:
Your cat has new requirements to maintain optimum health and maximize its longevity if you detect CKD (chronic kidney disease). While many people come in to the clinic looking for the health check with a possible vaccination, I really want them to have a health check with a possible blood sample. Above kittenhood, it is that much more important to me. If you find CKD, the body is requesting some changes. The earlier you are aware of this request, the better the outlook for your cat, and they can still live for decades. My own cat is 19 with his CKD, and is doing great as can be seen in the SQ fluid video!
WHAT DOES CKD LOOK LIKE?
It can look like everything and nothing at all. Cats with CKD can look perfectly normal at one end of the spectrum, but it can also be responsible for weight loss, excessive thirst and peeing, lack of appetite, vomiting, constipation, lethargy, and changes in their coat for starters. It can cause anemia, and be associated with hypertension. It can effect a whole host of other physiological or electrolyte issues in the body.
They key here is not to freak out. If you find CKD in your cat, it doesn't mean he’s then got to be given drugs forever or life support. In fact, if you find it early, you will be ahead of the curve for satisfying the body’s new requirements. Solutions come in the form of nutrition, supplements, antacids, SQ fluids, medications and eliminating predisposing factors. Your work together with your vet is to find your cats combination of requirements. They can live a very long time.
I kind of hate the term CKD as it can make people feel hopeless. Others call it chronic renal failure which I despise even more as it only fits a clinical syndrome certain cats go through (and it implies that you can’t do anything about it). I often call it “chronic renal insufficiency” when caught early. As in “hey, we found this on your cats annual bloodwork, and his kidneys, while they are working, have become less efficient at their job”. I don’t regret finding CKD - because I view it as an opportunity to help them live long.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:
You need info. Lot’s of good, proactive info. I want you to become an expert on the subject. Each cat has a unique combination of requirements for CKD. For my 19 year old cat (and many others like him), success has come in part by giving him SQ fluids. Look at the SQ fluids video and all the information in it. This covers just one aspect of extending the quality of life and longevity of a cat with CKD. A separate video could be made for each and every one of the issues they could face. As people who are invested in the health and longevity of our cats, your best success will come from learning and implementing.
I diagnose or discuss kidney issues in cats every single day. Approximately 30 % of the cat population has this issue. This is VERY surprising for people, who are often devastated with the knowledge that some illness was brewing all along, and they were the last person to know. The irony is that even though you know your cat better than anyone else would, they are really good at hiding their issues from the ones they love the most (just like people). If a cat could write a diary about their kidney function, it would have a titanium padlock on it!
We are going to pick those locks open. We can give our cats what they need to live longer and healthier. Stay tuned!