Chronic kidney disease is a leading cause of death in older cats. I was encouraged by a recent article entitled “2008—Year of the Cat” in Healthy Pet, a publication mailed by my veterinarian. Three major organizations including Morris Animal Foundation, the Winn Feline Foundation, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners have partnered “to promote the need for more feline research and to educate cat owners on how they can maximize health in their feline companions.” They have designated 2008 as the Year of the Cat. Presently, cats in American households outnumber dogs, 82 million to 72 million.

The challenge with kidney disease is symptoms may not become apparent until more than two-thirds of kidney function has been lost. Tatianna battled kidney failure for almost three years and Katarina lived with it for over a year before passing on.  A kidney disease study sponsored by these organizations is exploring how to develop an inexpensive test that would indicate first signs of the disease and that can be performed during a routine urinalysis. Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick, DVM, PhD, from Massey University in New Zealand is the lead researcher.

Early detection is critical. Experts advise that even cats without outward symptoms should be checked with a blood test for signs of chronic renal failure during their regular yearly exams once they have reached the age of seven. This is how I discovered Katarina had developed the disease at age sixteen. She did not have any outward symptoms.

If your cat exhibits any of these outward symptoms, expedient veterinary care is paramount:  increased water consumption, frequent urination, loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and declining vision. Tatianna was twelve when she had loss of appetite, lethargy, and increased water consumption. A blood test confirmed kidney failure.

If you have had a cat with kidney failure, I encourage you to write me about the experience.

Bountiful Blessings!

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