You already know that diet has a major role in your cat's health. If your kitty starts having kidney problems, however, diet becomes so important that it can mean the difference between successfully managing the disease or losing your friend too soon. Reducing phosphorus is critical in managing kidney disease.
What Is Phosphorus?
In plain English, phosphorus is a mineral that works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. Cats, humans, and most nearly all animals also need it to convert food into energy. It aids in digestion and builds healthy cell membranes. Phosphorus is too important to a cat's health to restrict unless your veterinarian says there's a good reason to reduce it in your kitty's diet.
Kidney Disease and Phosphorus
Kidney disease is the main reason your veterinarian might suggest a low phosphorus diet. When the kidney's aren't functioning properly, phosphorus builds up and causes even more kidney damage. The amount of phosphorus in the blood also becomes elevated. Reducing it through diet can help slow down kidney disease.
Low-Protein vs. Low Phosphorus
Phosphorus is found in meat, and meat is full of protein, so in the past many doctors recommended a low-protein diet for cats with kidney problems. The problem is that cats are strict carnivores and need meat for their organs to function properly. Reducing protein has been found to cause more damage than the phosphorus it contains. Cats, with or without kidney disease, should have a diet that includes plenty of protein.
Commercial Low Phosphorus Diets
Commercial diets are available that provide all the nutrition your kitty needs while keeping the amount of phosphorus low. These diets usually are sold in veterinary offices or through retail stores with a prescription. While they are available in dry and wet formulas, the wet version is better for your cat if he has kidney disease, because it helps keep him hydrated. Talk to your veterinarian about caring for your cat's teeth if you decide to put your feline friend on a wet diet, since he may need special care to reduce tartar that normally is cleaned away by dry food.
If changing kitty's diet isn't possible, especially if he's a picky eater, phosphorus binders can be added to his food. These binders prevent the build-up of phosphorus in your cat's kidneys and bloodstream. Binders should be used with the supervision of your veterinarian. If your cat refuses to eat a special low-phosphate diet, don't let him starve or give up on the special diet he needs. Binders are the answer for many finicky cats.