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As much as a love a playful young kitten, I have to admit that I’m a major sucker for a sweet senior cat. As cats age, they tend to slow down, mellow out, and enjoy snuggling up with their favorite human. My senior cat, Olivia, curls up with me while I read books in the evenings. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.
While slowing down is a normal and healthy thing for senior cats to do, you’ll want to make sure that you watch out for signs that could be linked to health issues, such as kidney problems.
Our cats’ kidneys are responsible for filtering blood, helping maintain healthy blood pressure, stimulating the bone marrow to make more red blood cells, and much more. These two small, bean-shaped organs are essential to the life of our feline companions. What though, happens when our older cats’ bodies stop working as they used to and how can we keep our cats comfortable throughout their older years?
Kidney (Renal) Disease in Cats
Although some cats are born with kidney problems, what I’m focusing on today is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD is the persistent loss of kidney function over time and is very common in older and even middle-aged cats.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats Include:
- Frequent urination, bloody urine, or cloudy urine
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Stomach issues such as vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea
- Recurring bladder or kidney infections
- Mouth ulcers or a dull brownish-colored tongue
- Bad breath, smelling like ammonia or urine
- Dry skin, coat, or eyes
- Weakness, irritability, or fatigue
The only definitive way to know if your cat has kidney disease is to have her evaluated by a veterinarian who can run tests to provide a proper diagnosis. Cats under 7 need an annual vet wellness visit and cats over 7 will require bi-annual visits. The sooner CKD is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. CKD cannot yet be cured, but the right treatment can prolong your cat’s life and provide quality of life in her senior years.
Home Care for a Cat with Kidney Disease
In addition to seeking medical help for kidney treatments, there are things that you can do to make your feline have a better quality of life.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Drinking a healthy amount of water will help your cats’ urinary tract, including the kidneys. Encouraging your cat to drink is one of the best things that you can do for her. I bought my cat Olivia this very fountain about two years ago and she LOVES it. I see her sipping from it 3-4 times a day — so I’m sure she’s drinking from it even more oftne than that! I also see her washing her paws at the fountain! So cute. There are a lot of great pet fountains on the market but I like this Catit Flower Fountain because it’s cute, inexpensive and we haven’t had any problems with it in two years. In addition, the Catit Flower Fountain uses a special filtration system to keep water clean and healthy for your kitty. We change them about once a month.
From a scientific standpoint, cats are more inclined to drink from moving water. This is because of their natural instincts. In the wild, moving water is usually cleaner than stagnant water, so using a fountain rather than a bowl will encourage her to drink!
Protect against accidents. Your cat may lose control over her bladder as CKD advances. Placing Training Pads down in her favorite areas can help soak up her potential accidents, making clean-up less of a hassle for you. Training pads are marketed for dogs, but work well for felines too.
In fact, even though my cat doesn’t have CKD, I often buy these large training pads to put under the litter box because sometimes Olivia “misses the box” and pees just outside it. You can find more litter box hacks here.
Add a renal supplement to your cats’ daily routine. My first pick for kidney support is the Vetri-Science Renal Essentials Cat Supplement. It comes in a tasty bite-sized chew to deliver renal essentials such as B vitamins, folic acid, and DMG. I personally prefer supplements, like this one, that are disguised as a treat. Olivia always refuses pills even if they are hidden in food, so for her, the bite-sized chew is the way to go.
Choose a kidney-healthy diet. Some cat food brands have formulas that are specially created for cats with kidney problems or for older cats in general.
Best Senior Food for Cats with Kidney Disease
Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Senior 7+ Adult Dry Cat Food is one of my go-to suggestions for senior cats in general because it provides healthy vitamins and minerals older cats need, such as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Urinary Tract Health Adult Wet and Dry Food is a great option for a cat that you suspect is beginning to have renal issues. It’s designed to help maintain cats’ urinary tract health by reducing urinary pH and providing low dietary magnesium.
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food or Wet Canned Cat Food is made with controlled levels of sodium and protein to help manage your cats’ kidney workload. You’ll need a prescription for these Blue Buffalo foods, but a diet prescription is easy to obtain. Simply place your order with Chewy.com and they’ll reach out to your veterinarian for approval.
Extra Care & Attention for Your Senior Cat
Remember that your older cat is more susceptible to health concerns, so be sure to have regular check-ups with your veterinarian. This will ensure that health concerns, such as CKD, can be addressed right away and you’ll enjoy many years of love and companionship with your senior cat.