As is the case with many degenerative health conditions, the typical end stage feline kidney disease patient experiences symptoms that are less than pretty. A pet owner whose cats has been diagnosed with kidney disease can only wait, sympathize and witness the decline of his pet, the speed of which is individual for each animal.
About Feline Kidney Disease
Feline kidney disease is also referred to as chronic renal failure or even chronic renal insufficiency. Regardless of complicated diagnostic titles, a pet owner only needs to understand a few basic aspects of this condition in order to care for his pet.
Preparing for the Last Battle
First of all, kidney disease that has reached a chronic level of dysfunction is terminal. There is no cure for the illness; there are only treatments that may or may not help slow down the progression of the disease. This is often a very difficult concept for pet owners to accept. The greatest struggle will be to accept the fact that any measures taken towards your cat's health will be to slow the disease. This can be confusing because some dietary changes and treatments may render slight improvements that grant a pet owner hope. Unfortunately, these hopes are often short-lived and dashed immediately when symptoms return.
Understanding the Mechanics
The kidneys are vital organs. This is true for both humans and cats, as well as for most other species within the animal kingdom. When one kidney is sick, the other will take over, but when both kidneys are failing, this produces a lethal condition within the body. The kidneys' primary role is in managing the water content of the body and filtering wastes in order to maintain homeostasis. The kidneys manage the exact proportions of electrolytes and balance nutrients and hormones within the bloodstream. When the kidneys start to fail, the body eventually becomes toxic as wastes build up within the system. Early stages may produce weakness, infection and electrolyte imbalances. The end stages of feline kidney disease are fairly gruesome. Many end stage feline kidney disease patients are euthanized in order to mitigate their suffering.
End Stage Feline Kidney Disease Symptoms
What can a cat owner expect to witness as his cat moves closer to the end stages of renal insufficiency? As mentioned earlier, the kidneys manage the balance of nutrients and wastes within the system. The end stages of feline kidney disease result in a complete inability of the kidneys to function and, thus, the cat's system becomes septic. Not all cats will show the exact same symptoms, but towards the end of your cat's battle with renal disease you can expect a wasting of the animal's body. Its coat will be dull, and its appetite lower. Since malnutrition is a side-effect of almost all degenerative disease, this symptom alone can lead to a multitude of secondary symptoms such as decreased immunity, vomiting, excessive thirst and frequent urination. The electrolyte imbalance caused by the kidneys' inability to manage potassium and sodium will also affect the efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract, and this may cause constipation in your cat. This constipation will only be exacerbated by the extreme dehydration your cat will experience as a result of its body being unable to retain water. This dehydration will also affect your cat's breath, causing an ammonia-like smell or an abominable case of halitosis.
There is not much a pet owner can do during this time. Most cat owners will have already put their cat on a low-protein, electrolyte-enhanced diet during the early stages of the disease. The helplessness you may experience during this time is both normal and disheartening. However, ensuring that your cat is adequately supported and loved during the final stage of its life is one of the most important factors in securing any comfort for the animal.