Nutritional Factors Considered in Cats With Kidney Disease

Cats with kidney disease have very specific nutritional needs and limitations.
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If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease, it is likely that your vet has discussed her diet. Managing Missy's diet is very important, as cats with kidney disease have specific nutritional needs. Commercial diets are available to help meet her needs at this important time.

Protein: Can Too Much Be a Bad Thing?

Traditionally, when a cat is diagnosed with kidney disease, the vet will advise limiting her protein intake. Reducing protein will take some of the stress off Missy's kidneys as they process waste. There has been some debate over the importance of protein in a cat's diet -- cats are meat eaters, after all. Cats with kidney disease have a fine balance to maintain: Too much protein can overwork their kidneys and make them ill. Too little protein will keep them from maintaining their weight and basic health.

Too Much Phosphorus is Not Good

Although phosphorus is essential for good health, too much of it for a cat with kidney disease can be harmful. In these cases, the kidneys can't process the extra phosphorus, which can make Missy sick and lose weight. It can also make her disease progress more rapidly. It is not unusual for cats with kidney disease to use a phosphorus binder, which will bind with her food and lower her body's phosphorus levels.

Prescription Diets Limit Protein and Phosphorus

There are a variety of commercially available pet foods that are made especially for cats with kidney disease. These foods contain low levels of phosphorus and protein to take the strain off Missy's kidneys, yet will meet her nutritional requirements. They are available in wet and dry varieties, so if she prefers one form of food over another, you have a good starting point. Because different cats have different tastes, ask your vet for samples to get an idea of what Missy will eat.

Help -- My Cat Won't Eat the Prescription Food!

Switching to a new food can be traumatic for a cat -- after all, chances are she's been eating much the same thing for years. Make sure you introduce Missy's new food to her gradually, mixing the new food in with the old in larger amounts. This can take days -- or weeks -- but it will help her develop a taste for the new food.

Some cats simply will not adapt to the new diet. If this happens with you, talk to your vet about finding an alternative that will work, as well as supplements (such as a phosphorus binder) to deal with her special nutritional needs. The most important thing is to make sure she eats and gets plenty of fresh water.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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