Chronic Renal Failure
Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) is also known as kidney failure or chronic renal insufficiency (CRI). It is distinguished from Acute Renal Failure (ARF) in that the onset is slower. By the time a diagnosis is made, the damage to the kidneys from CRF is irreversible.
The kidneys are essential organs responsible for many tasks required for a healthy pet. They include:
- Producing enzymes to control blood pressure and stimulate production of red blood cells
- Filtering urea, creatinine, and other waste from the body
- Regulating sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus levels
- Producing urine
For cats with CRF, the kidneys no longer perform these important functions as well as they should.
Unfortunately, CFR is a progressive, incurable condition that will very likely shorten a cat’s life. If it is detected early and treated aggressively, it can, however, be managed.
Chronic Renal Failure Symptoms
Many symptoms of CRF are common to other disorders. The early signs are usually so mild as to not be noticed by the pet owner until the disease has progressed. Signs of the progression of CRF include:
- Increased thirst (polydipsia)
- Increased urination (polyuria)
- Decreased urination (oliguria)
- No urination (anuria)
- Urination at night (nocturia)
- Blood in urine (hematuria)
- Decreased interest in food (anorexia)
- Weight loss
- Lethargy or unwillingness to move
- Poor coat
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Distended belly due to fluid accumulation (ascites)
- Pain in the kidneys
- Enlarged or malformed kidneys
- Ulcers inside the mouth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Standing or sitting with a hunched-over posture
- Retinal damage
Chronic Renal Failure Treatment
Treatment of CRF includes treatment of symptoms as well as support for the ailing pet. Support can come in the form of:
If your cat has nausea, it might come and go at different times of day. Offering meals repeatedly throughout the day can be effective in getting a cat with CRF to eat more.
Medications for nausea, hypertension, and other symptoms can also help a cat that suffers from CRF.
When giving medication, your veterinarian might give a lower dosage than a healthy animal might receive. That is because the kidneys might be the main organ responsible for filtering the medication from the body. When the kidneys are not working well, more of the medication can stay in the body longer, allowing for a lower dose.
Kidney transplants are also available for cats in some areas.
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