Kidney failure typically occurs in older cats over the age of 10; however, with early treatment, the cat’s life can be lengthened. Prednisone may treat kidney disease, but there are many side effects associated with the use of prednisone in cats.
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Renal (kidney) failure is categorised in two degrees. Acute renal failure is when there is a quickly occurring decrease in the function of the kidneys due to a toxin or significant loss of blood supply. Acute renal failure is the most serious form of kidney disease and typically leads to death unless it is treated early enough.
The most common form of kidney failure is chronic renal failure (CRF). Cats suffering from chronic renal failure cannot compensate for their kidneys failing. During chronic renal failure, there is a gradual reduction in kidney function and the outcome is most likely fatal, however, it is a slower process than acute renal failure. The Feline CRF website states that 30 per cent of cats over the age of 15 will suffer from chronic renal failure.
Signs of chronic renal failure include excessive thirst and urination, decrease in appetite, vomiting, seizures, weakness and ulcers. Many symptoms of CRF go unnoticed until a significant amount of kidney function has already been lost.
Treatment for CRF may include a specific diet that includes a limited amount of high quality proteins, along with a supplement of vitamin B complex.
Medications may lower phosphorous levels, increase potassium levels and fight anaemia that many cats develop with CRF. Other medications may treat blood pressure problems, ulcers and vomiting, and increase the cat's appetite.
Fluid therapy is one of the most important treatments for chronic renal failure and the cat may need it on a daily basis.
Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid that in low doses treats allergies and other inflammatory conditions. Vets also use it to treat immune and auto immune disorders, as an appetite stimulant, and during chemotherapy treatments.
A vet may prescribe prednisone for a cat suffering from CRF to treat a specific problem such as to stimulate the appetite or to make the cat generally feel better, according to Feline CRF.
A cat may receive prednisone orally or via an injection.
Prednisone Side Effects
Numerous side effects are associated with the use of prednisone, including increased blood pressure, poor coat quality, changes in behaviour, degeneration of muscles and fluid retention.
Long term effects of prednisone use may include weight gain, disorders of the eye and the development of Cushing’s disease.
Chronic renal failure may be controllable if it is diagnosed early enough. This disease will progress, however, and cats suffering from CRF should have an examination and tests done every three to six months, as other diseases may develop as CRF progresses.
With early detection, you may be able to lengthen your cat’s life.
Once your cat reaches the end stages of renal disease, he will exhibit signs such as dull, sunken eyes, sudden weight gain, oral ulcers, reduction or complete void of urination, seizures, the inability to walk, blindness, congestive heart failure, body odour, loss of bladder control and confusion.
When the animal fails to respond to treatment, you will know that the end is near.
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