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High calorie & low protein diets for cats

Updated November 21, 2016

Cats requiring a high-calorie, low-protein diet often suffer from chronic renal failure. A low-protein diet will aid in reducing the residue from protein metabolism that the kidneys need to filter. Cats with chronic renal failure often do not eat enough, so it is helpful if the low-protein cat food is also high in calories. Cats have unique nutritional requirements, and cannot synthesise taurine, niacin or arachidonic acid, so their diets must provide these nutrients. It is especially important for cats suffering from chronic renal failure to receive all essential nutrients.

Dry Cat Food

Dry cat food is generally more calorie-dense than canned cat food because it contains less water. Low-protein cat food often has protein levels of 13% to 14%; however, according to Dr. Ron Hines, DVM, veterinarians are unsure as to the efficacy of very low protein diets, and some commercial kidney care brands have increased the protein level to 18%.

Canned Cat Food

Cats typically prefer canned cat food to dry cat food. Cats often refuse to eat a cat food based solely on aroma or lack thereof. Canned food also tends to be less calorie-dense than dry food, but it also has more water, which helps the kidneys flush out toxins. Canned foods often appear to be lower in protein than dry food, but this is often because of the diluting effect of the added water. Heating up the food or adding clam juice or low-salt chicken broth to the food often will induce a cat to eat.

Prescription Cat Food

If the cat has not been eating, the veterinarian may prescribe a special high-calorie food that can be administered by bowl, spoon or syringe. This is typically a short-term solution to bring the cat's weight up. The veterinarian may also prescribe a longer-term maintenance cat food containing restricted levels of protein, phosphorus and sodium, and increased levels of fat and vitamins and minerals.

Homemade Supplementation

You can supplement the cat's diet, especially since cats with chronic renal failure often waste away. It is important to keep the cat's weight up. You must also limit the cat's intake of phosphorus. Phosphorus leaches calcium from bones, often leading to weak bones and fractures. Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products are high in phosphorus, and you should avoid feeding them to the cat. Instead, give the cat a cooked egg white; egg whites are very low in phosphorus.

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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, MN, Tammy Domeier began her writing career in 1998, writing user manuals for the commercial printing and graphics industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Minnesota State University at Mankato and a paralegal certificate from Minnesota Paralegal Institute.