If your precious kitty is on the elderly side, you should be aware of the possibility of kidney failure, a potentially very dangerous feline condition. Kidney failure is one of the most common ailments in senior felines, and when ignored can lead to quick and sudden death.
Chronic and Acute Kidney Failure
Kidney failure comes in two types -- chronic and acute. Chronic kidney failure is a slow-moving disease in which a cat's symptoms worsen with time, while acute kidney failure is a sudden, fast-moving disease. Chronic kidney failure is characterized by permanent, progressive kidney damage, while acute kidney failure involves sudden kidney dysfunction -- and therefore emergency issues with the body's fluid balances.
If you are concerned that your older fluffball might have kidney failure, be vigilant for any telltale symptoms. Some signs that are common in both chronic and acute kidney failure include weight loss, reduced appetite, depressed mood, exhaustion, dehydration, throwing up, feelings of weakness and urination pattern changes. In the case of chronic kidney failure, these symptoms may initially come on very subtly and get worse and worse with the passing of time. If you spot any of these indications in your little one, schedule an appointment with her veterinarian as soon as you can. The sooner you manage and treat kidney failure in a cat, the better her chances of surviving and thriving are, and understandably so.
Chronic kidney failure is not reversible and does not have a cure. However, that doesn't mean that the disease is immediately fatal in all cats. The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine indicates that with proper management, death is not necessarily an imminent danger with chronic kidney failure.
On the other hand, with prompt treatment -- usually hospitalization -- cats with acute renal failure often can quickly bounce back. Acute failure can indeed be cured. Without medical attention, however, cats may experience sudden death within mere days or weeks.
Although kidney failure is a possibility for cats of all age groups, it is especially problematic for geriatric cats over 15 years old, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. While some older cats may indeed die quickly as a result of kidney failure, some go on to continue living joyously for years longer -- it varies depending on the individual and the timeliness of management. The same applies to the rare younger cats with kidney failure. When it comes to this condition, as stated before, management is of utmost importance, whether through dietary adjustments, subcutaneous fluid medication or dialysis.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Kidney Disease
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: The Special Needs of the Senior Cat
- ASPCA: Kidney Disease
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Chronic Kidney (Renal) Failure in Cats
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Chronic Kidney Disease
- George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images