Some of you may have noticed I have been missing in action these past couple months. Well the truth is I was a pretty sick cat. On top of my diabetes, my kidneys decided to try and quit on me. My AHDC buddies took very good care of me even though I was a pretty ungrateful patient. Can you believe they wouldn’t let me wander the hospital and with an IV pole like people do on TV?! Well I’m finally back to work and while my kidneys are not functioning at 100%, I’m back to my normal self and my vets say my values are stable.
So in celebration of National Kidney Month and my feeling better, here are a couple facts everyone should know about kidney disease:
- Kidneys have many jobs. The filter the blood, tell the body to make red blood cells, help control the blood pressure, and help to keep water, electrolytes, and acid/base regulated in the blood stream.
- As the kidneys stop working, the filter becomes less effective. Water leaks out and electrolytes and acid/base levels are out of control. The kidneys also lose their ability to communicate with the rest of the body so you can get anemia and high blood pressure.
- The good news is you only need 1/3 of your kidneys, the rest is extra (that’s why you can donate a kidney)
- Now for the bad news… ~50% of cats over 15 years of age will develop some degree of kidney disease. Meaning they will have less than 1/3 of their kidneys functioning
- Outward signs of kidney disease include: increased drinking and urination, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Sometime you also see signs associated with high blood pressure such as weakness or sudden blindness
- Luckily my vet friends can often see early signs of kidney disease on urine testing and bloodwork before these symptoms occur. This is why my friends recommend bloodwork monitoring even in healthy pets.
- While kidney disease is irreversible and progressive, there are some things we can do to slow it down. If caught early, something as simple as a special diet can help us cats feel better. After I was diagnosed, my vets started me on a new prescription food. It’s delicious and good for me!
- If we are very sick, sometimes my vet friends can help the kidneys in the short term by hospitalizing us to give us fluids directly in the vein to flush out the built up toxins.
- Some other treatments that may be needed long term include fluids under the skin to help flush out our toxins and supplements to control our electrolytes and support the poor sick kidneys. I hate getting my fluids but I know it’s for my own good. Please don’t tell the technicians I understand because then I might get less pity. Shhh…