How to treat kidney disease in older cats

Updated December 15, 2016

Kidney disease is among the leading causes of death among older cats. While kidney disease is a terminal illness regardless of a cat's age, older cats' bodies generally have a harder time coping with it. Thus, treatment of kidney disease in older cats focuses on preserving what kidney function is left and making cats as comfortable as possible.

Take your cat to his veterinarian for blood work. The blood work will determine how much kidney function your elderly kitty has left. This will determine just how aggressive the therapy will be.

Begin fluid therapy. Fluid therapy is an essential component of managing kidney disease in older cats. Fluids are typically administered subcutaneously at regular intervals, which are determined by the treating veterinarian and depend on a cat's individual kidney function. Once the fluid is administered, it sits beneath the cat's skin, forming a visible pouch. The fluid is then slowly absorbed into the cat's body, so that the pouch gradually diminishes in size. The point of this is to keep the cat properly hydrated.

Ask your vet to teach you how to administer fluids at home. You want to stress out your elderly cat as little as possible, so to keep vet visits to a minimum; your veterinarian can teach you how to administer subcutaneous fluids on your own.

Address secondary problems. Older cats are prone to experience problems such as high blood pressure. Kidney disease can substantially increase the risk of hypertension. Thus, an older cat with kidney disease may require medication to lower his blood pressure. A veterinarian may also recommend potassium supplementation.

Alter kitty's diet. Cats with kidney disease commonly lose their appetites. While many veterinarians recommend feeding these cats low-protein diets, it's more important that a cat eat than that he eat low-protein foods, which can be less palatable than other cat foods.

Make your cat as comfortable as possible. All treatments for chronic kidney failure must be balanced with quality of life considerations, especially for older cats, who may not have that long left to live. Enjoy every moment with your elderly cat and make sure he is as comfortable as possible.

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About the Author

Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.