If your cat has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, or CKD, your vet has probably talked about her diet. It's important that you watch Kitty's phosphorus levels -- too much phosphorus can add stress to her kidneys. Here's some information about why her phosphorus level is important and how to manage it.
Why is Phosphorus Important?
Phosphorus is a mineral that cats require to maintain correct growth and development of their skeletal system. Although many animals do not get enough phosphorus in their diets, cats typically don't have that problem. Cats are carnivores and phosphorus is abundant in meat. In fact, it is more common that too much phosphorus can contribute to kidney failure in cats.
What Is the Impact of Too Much Phosphorus?
A cat with healthy kidneys can self-regulate its phosphorus levels. However, a cat with CKD does not have that benefit; its kidneys can no longer process excess phosphorus. When phosphorus levels are high, it can affect other organs and contribute to additional kidney failure. Other symptoms can also develop, such as nausea, lack of appetite, trembling, lack of coordination and weakness. Because phosphorus levels are so important in a cat with CKD, vets will often recommend a diet that has low levels of phosphorus.
Is There Medicine to Control Phosphorus Levels?
If Kitty has CKD, she has probably had blood work done to check indicators of how her kidneys are functioning. One of the indicators checked will be her phosphorus level. Depending on how your cat is responding to her new diet, as well as what stage of kidney disease she is in, your vet may recommend a phosphorus binder. Phosphorus binders work to bind excess phosphorus in the intestines so it is not absorbed in the blood to damage Kitty's kidneys and other organs. They will also work to help the symptoms such as nausea and poor appetite.
How Do I Give Kitty a Phosphorus Binder?
Phosphorus binders come in different forms and they should be given to Kitty at mealtime. The most common phosphorus binder is aluminum hydroxide, which many vets prescribe in the form of AlternaGel. AlternaGel is a mint flavored liquid and syringed into the cat's mouth. However, many cats dislike the mint flavor and will sometimes struggle against the medicine. There are also tasteless powders that are available via the Internet; they can be mixed with Kitty's wet food or sprinkled on dry food.
There are other options besides aluminum hydroxide available to your cat. Calcium-based antacids (such as Tums) are sometimes recommended by vets, but they aren't the best choice because they may make Kitty's calcium levels too high. As well, they are not as effective as aluminum hydroxide. Other medication, such as Epakitin, is emerging in the market and it is worth speaking to your vet about them.
Do I Have to Give Kitty a Phosphorus Binder?
It is always best to discuss Kitty's treatment with her vet. If she is not very cooperative with the phosphorus binder she's taking, talk to the vet about other alternatives. Phosphorus binders are important in maintaining kidney function, as well as keeping Kitty comfortable.