Kidney Disease – A Common Killer for Cats
Chronic kidney disease is one of the most undiagnosed conditions we see in practice. The main reason is that it’s hard to detect just through an external examination unless of course it’s already quite advanced.
The danger of chronic kidney disease is that there are very few observable symptoms for a very long time. In fact it’s not until about 3/4 of the kidney tissue is damaged that symptoms of renal failure start to become obvious to most cat owners. Little wonder it’s called the silent killer of cats.
Once the disease has become too advanced – there’s little that can be done to provide quality of life for your cat.
What’s so sad about this common scenario is how easily this disease could have been detected in it’s early stages just by running a simple urine test.
How to Detect Feline Kidney Disease Early
The main function of kidneys in the body is to reabsorb water from food and metabolic processes to maintain the body’s hydration. As kidney function is progessively lost, they lose their ability to conserve water therefore causing your cat to lose more water than it can replace through eating and drinking.
A cat with kidney damage will consequently have more dilute urine than a cat with normal kidney function.
Age is no barrier to chronic kidney disease. Some cats are affected early in their life, maybe through a congenital defect and in others it develops over time. We’ve seen cats as young as 6 months of age already showing evidence of impaired kidney function.
Thankfully, if detected in the early stages many things can be done to slow down further progression of the disease and provide your cat with quality of life for many years to come.
To test the state of health of your cat’s kidneys we can run a simple urine test called a Urine Specific Gravity Test (USG Test). This means looking at a sample of your cat’s urine through a special instrument called a Refractometer.
This instrument can often pick up kidney dysfunction earlier than a blood test can.
It’s a relatively quick and inexpensive test that can be done during any normal consultation with on the spot results.
All we need is a fresh sample of your cat’s urine for you to bring along.
The main reason why this test is often overlooked is because people find it difficult to collect a urine sample from their cat. If your cat is an indoor cat, and uses a litter tray, then a sample obtained from a clean tray filled with a non absorbent litter is quite suitable.
Refer to our Senior Pet Page for further information on how to collect a urine sample from your cat.
If this is not possible then we can extract a sample of your cat’s urine either by gently pressing on the bladder to encourage urination into a sample dish or by a method called Cystocentesis whereby a small sterile needle is insterted directly into your cat’s bladder.
Help Your Cat Live for Longer through Regular Testing
Since chronic kidney disease is such a common killer of cats, we recommend all cats be tested at least ONCE a YEAR with their annual vaccination or health check – or twice yearly for older cats (7 Years Plus)
Is The Test Expensive?
No – you’ll pay only an extra $16.50 for the test in addition to the consultation or vaccination fee if you bring a sample with you. Naturally if we have to extract the sample via other methods described above the fee will be more due to the additional time involved.
Please don’t wait until your cat starts to show symptoms of kidney disease as by then it’s already reached the advanced stage and there’s little we can do to provide extended quality of life,
Make an appointment to have your cat’s kidney function tested soon and avoid the heartache of a late diagnosis.