Kidney Disease, Diet and Treatment

Some kidney problems can be traced to an underlying disease.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM | Posted: Fri Mar 4 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Q. I have a 7-year-old Maine Coon, Kasi, who was recently diagnosed with kidney disease. I'm in the process of finding a low-protein canned food. I recently offered her an over-the-counter kidney-treatment canned food and she likes it. Also, Kasi only drinks small amounts of water. What do you recommend for low-protein food, canned or dry? What causes kidney disease? I feel Kasi is too young to have kidney disease. I will do whatever it takes to bring her kidneys back to normal.

A. Kidney (renal) disease is a frustrating problem in animals. In some cases, an underlying cause can be found, but in others the cause remains a mystery. Your cat is too young to be showing signs of kidney disease, and it might be important to try and see if there is a treatable underlying cause for her problems.

Kidney infections (pyelonephritis) and stones in the kidneys (renal uroliths) are two potential causes of reversible kidney disease. Radiographs, ultrasound and a careful urinalysis (with a culture if indicated) can rule out these problems. Not all stones show up on radiographs, so that is why we often recommend an ultrasound. Cats with developmental disorders such as polycystic kidneys generally become symptomatic early in life. Unfortunately these problems are not reversible.

You need to know if your cat is losing protein in her urine (protein-losing glomerulonephropathy), as this condition is treated differently than other forms of kidney failure. Your veterinarian can perform a urine protein creatinine-ratio if a protein problem is detected by performing a routine urinalysis.

Prescription diets prove to be the best diets. Most manufacturers of veterinary diets make excellent foods. Putting your cat on a low-protein diet is probably not the best thing. Cats are obligate carnivores, so Kasi should eat a diet that provides an adequate protein content. Serving a diet with high but non-essential (low-quality) protein is detrimental to kidney patients, which means a high-quality, prescription diet is required.

Try to increase her water intake by feeding canned food or by flavoring her water with a few drops of clam juice or tuna juice.

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Reader Comments

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

7/21/2012 10:50:40 AM

good article, thank you

ginny    lyman, SC

4/13/2010 9:43:33 PM

good info - i lost a wonderful 11 yo boy kitty overnight - he never showed any symptoms but suddenly was in severe distress lying down meowing at his water dish - the local vet could not force a urine - we took him 3 hrs away to one of the best vet schools in the country and sadly he had to be helped to the rainbow bridge anyway - i have never resolved this and still believe i missed signs by being too busy to really watch for a hidden illness

Donna    Austin, TX

8/2/2008 8:13:47 AM

What would cause a seemingly healthy 3-year-old Siamese mix to suddenly crater and be diagnosed with kidney disease? This happened yesterday and I'm waiting to hear from his mother to find out if he made it through the night because it didn't look like he would. How could this happen so quickly!!

janet    bethlehem, PA

2/28/2008 5:35:31 AM

very interesting thank you

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