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October 7, 2013

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

As I settled into the seat next to my husband, he said, "the vet called back with the test results." Neko Case was playing that night at Radio City Music Hall and we named our first cat after her. We now have an answer as to why our cat lost 3 and 1/2 pounds in a couple of months. He has chronic kidney disease Stage 4.

Kidney disease in felines shares much in common with chronic kidney disease in human beings. Upon his diagnosis, I gave myself a crash course in kidney anatomy and physiology, lab values, and disease staging. We have more tests to conduct to try to figure out why he developed this terminal disease.

What we do know is that he tested negative for feline HIV/AIDs and feline Leukemia, both to which can result in kidney failure. He has also been cleared of a bacterial infection. Usually, cats with this condition have anemia, but he does not test positive for that yet, which may mean something else, such as kidney cancer. His next appointment with the vet will be for ultrasound. Hopefully, at that appointment, they will be able to check his blood pressure (which I am doubtful will be accurate unless they can calm him down). Hypertension in cats is another common side effect of CKD.

What we have done so far, is change our cats' diet to a renal veterinarian formula that is low in protein and phosphorus. He likes it so far, but he wants to eat the gravy and leave the meat. Also, Pepcid for nausea and prevention of mouth sores - we have seen no vomiting since we changed his food. And, subcutaneous fluids, which the vet has taught me to administer, with a needle. We've both managed that pretty well - thankfully, that is every other day for now. Also, I have found Helen Fitzsimons' website called Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease immeasurably helpful with the day in and day out support and details regarding the care and treatment of this condition in my cat.

It is possible that Neko's lab values will improve with treatment. BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen which measures nitrogen in the blood that is a natural by-product of protein breakdown. Creatinine is a by-product of muscle breakdown and these numbers usually appear elevated together in CKD cats (and people). What this means is that filtering capacity of the kidneys is diminished and unable to remove toxins from the blood so the animal is making diluted urine. Common symptoms include increased thirst with urine output, which, oddly, results in dehydration. Subcutaneous fluids absorb more efficiently through the tissue than drinking water, and result in improved hydration and detoxification of the body.

So far, treatments are going well and I can tell he is feeling better. I have a feeling it may be a matter of time before bribing him with food will no longer be adequate distraction from administration of subcutaneous fluids. Luckily, the whole thing takes only 5 minutes. My fear is that he will tire of the new food and we'll have to stand on our heads to get him to eat. For now, we won't invent any problems and will take one day at a time.

Posted by linda at October 7, 2013 8:30 AM

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