Chronic renal failure (CRF) is one of the leading causes of illness in older cats. Cats aged 7 and older should be checked for CRF during each annual exam with a blood test, urinalysis and blood pressure measurement. Early detection, proper diet and hydration will help cats remain happy and active for quite some time.
There may be more than one cause of CRF in pets. Some contributing factors are age, genetics, environment and disease. Recently attention has been directed towards high blood pressure, low potassium levels, acidified diets and dental disease as contributors to the development of CRF. It appears some breeds have a higher rate of CRF than others. The Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Siamese, Russian Blue, Burmese, and Balinese are more likely to develop CRF than other breeds. CRF can occur at any age, but it is usually a disease of older cats. Cats are living much longer than they used to and their bodies eventually wear out just as human bodies do.
There are several conditions which exhibit symptoms similar to those seen in CRF. The only way to know for certain is to have your veterinarian perform tests. A urinalysis will be done to determine if the kidneys are passing waste materials. Blood tests will be done to determine the levels of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) as well as other components of the blood. An elevated creatinine level is the most certain sign of loss of kidney function.
CRF can be managed for a time, but there is no cure for the disease. As the disease progresses cats become more uncomfortable with an overall sensation of feeling unwell. Dehydration in particular can make your cat very uncomfortable. It is important that they have a constant supply of water available to them. With proper treatment a cat may have from months to years of relatively high-quality life. Please be sure to consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat is getting what they need.
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