Wednesday, March 17, 2010 9:50 AM

Treatment and Prevention of Kidney Disease in Cats

Once your cat is diagnosed with kidney failure, you must change the diet. The remaining kidney tissue cannot be overworked by being forced to continually filter unnecessary toxins out of the blood. Stop feeding any dry food, and buy a premium canned food to mix with some chicken stew that you can make by chopping up chicken and cooking with mixed vegetables and some brown rice. Much of the nutrients will be in the stock, which will also add some extra fluid to the meal, something your cat really needs now.

Don't be fooled by "prescription" diets that claim to help reduce the load on the kidneys by containing lower percentages of protein. It is the quality of the protein, not the quantity, that is at issue here. Any commercial food, even prescription brands, contain lower-quality protein and many more toxins than any food you can cook for your cat. You are much better off supplementing a regular premium canned product with your own cooking (if you don't feel comfortable supplying a completely homemade diet) than buying these prescription brands.

Supplements are also in order. Buy a quality pet vitamin, or make up your own. Don't be afraid to give a little more than the label calls for, since your cat is not absorbing much of what he is ingesting at this point, and needs a little extra. Vitamins A, B and C are especially important. Also, make sure your cat gets a taurine supplement, as well as extra calcium. Dr. Pitcairn suggests calcium supplements that do not have too much phosphorus, as this element is difficult for the kidneys to handle in their weakened state.

Resist any prescription drugs your vet may press on you. Cortisone and acidifiers will not help the problem, and probably hasten decline. Instead, make an herbal tea for your cat, a teaspoon of which you add to his food twice a day: Steep about a quarter teaspoon of uva-ursi, cornsilk, horsetail and marsh mallow root in 4 oz. of boiling water. Let it set for several hours before straining. Keep any leftover in the refrigerator, and make a new batch every 4-5 days.

This regimen worked very well for Sweet Pea, extending her life by about 9 quality months. When she came out of remission, however, it was time to let her go. Remember that there is no cure, just palliative care until the kidneys give out entirely.

Prevention, as you may have guessed, rests entirely with nutrition. Stay away from commercial foods, or at least supplement with some homemade, as well. Give quality supplements, and add a bit of warm water to each meal to make sure your cats stay hydrated and flushed. Start this regimen from the day you bring them home, and your cats will very likely be some of those fortunate enough to escape this dreadful disease.
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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