The number of cats diagnosed with chronic renal disease increased nine-fold between 1980 and 2000 and now afflicts over 2 million felines, with 49% of cats over the age of 15 suffering from the disease.
Although some kidney disease, such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in Persians and Exotics and amyloidosis in Abyssinians, is known to be inherited, the cause of kidney disease in most cats is unknown. There are many ways that a cat's kidneys may be damaged over a life time. Chronic Kidney disease is seen most often in older feline patients.
Diagnosis is relatively straight forward but early signs may be subtle. Although chronic renal disease cannot be cured many cats with chronic renal disease are able to live a quality life for extended periods (often years). Early diagnosis, nutritional and drug therapy
, and supportive at-home care
provide the best prognosis.
The goal of therapy is to slow the progression of the disease and improve the clinical signs. The importance of at-home care cannot be overemphasized, and cat caretakers can do much to help their cats with failing kidneys.
The Cornell Feline Health Center has a comprehensive set of videos with chapters on diagnosis, understanding and managing kidney disease in cats
The Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) provides extensive information about kidney disease
in cats, including a page on polycystic kidney disease
. FAB also maintains a registry of cats diagnosed with PKD.
Two websites about feline chronic renal disease, the Feline CRF Information Center
and Tanya's Feline CRF Information Centre
, were created by cat caretakers who lost cats to the disease and now want to help other caretakers who are managing cats with chronic renal disease. (Tanyas Feline CRF Information Centre is also available in German
The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine website includes information about amyloidosis
Hemodialysis is a treatment more common in human medicine (and in veterinary medicine more commonly used to treat acute renal failure secondary to ethylene glycol—antifreeze—and lily toxicosis). Hemodialysis is offered at two veterinary teaching hospitals on the U.S. East Coast: The Animal Medical Center
in New York City and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's Ryan Veterinary Hospital
Feline kidney transplants have been performed since 1987. Veterinary Partner, a website created by veterinarians for companion animal caretakers, provides an overview
Daniel A. Degner, DVM, DACVS (Michigan Veterinary Specialists
, Auburn Hills, MI) has created a detailed website
about feline kidney transplantation, including photographs of the procedure.
An annotated list
of feline kidney transplant centers is maintained at the Feline CRF Information Center.
Amy Lynn, DVM
Michigan Veterinary Specialists