Kidney disease in cats; when to euthanize, when is the right time? Kidney disease in cats is a serious condition that can be difficult to manage. It is important to work closely with a veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your cat.
In some cases, euthanasia may be recommended as the most humane option. This decision should never be taken lightly, and it is important to consider your cat’s quality of life, its response to treatment, and its overall prognosis. It is also important to discuss your options and any concerns with your veterinarian and to make a decision that is best for both you and your cat.
Our article will help you find out everything you need to know about the symptoms of kidney failure, what to expect and when and if you should put a cat to sleep.
Kidney Failure In Cats – When To Euthanize?
Whether you choose to put a cat to sleep because of kidney failure or because your cat has diabetes or another chronic condition, the agonizing decision to do so should be made with knowledge. You’ll be able to decide when to put your cat down if you have established clear standards.
To ensure that your cat’s quality of life satisfies specific standards, cooperation and coordination with your veterinarian are required during the treatment phase. Each cat is unique, and each animal with a chronic illness uniquely responds to treatment.
Don’t panic if you occasionally notice your cat exhibiting signs of impending death. The condition of your cat can improve with the proper care, significantly extending its life and enhancing its quality of life.
Don’t be alarmed if, in some moments, you spot signs of near death in your cat. With the proper treatment, your cat’s condition can get better and significantly prolong and improve your cat’s quality of life.
Unfortunately, there will come a time when your pet’s chronic condition worsens to the point where no amount of treatment will help. You should consider starting the euthanasia process for your cat at this time.
It’s vital to recognize that the cat’s condition is really showing kidney failure.
Several Signs That Cat’s Renal Disease Is Not Responding To Medication
These may include:
1. Lack of improvement in clinical signs: If your cat is not showing any improvement in their clinical symptoms (such as increased appetite, increased energy levels, or improved urine output), this may indicate that the medication is not effective.
2. Worsening of clinical signs: If your cat’s clinical signs are worsening (such as decreased appetite, weight loss, increased lethargy, dull eyes, and bad breath), this may indicate that the medication and treatment plan are not effective.
3. Adverse side effects: If your cat is experiencing adverse side effects from the medication (such as vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in behavior), this may indicate that the medication is inappropriate for your cat.
4. Persistent high levels of kidney markers: If your cat’s blood work shows persistent high levels of kidney markers (such as creatinine and blood urea nitrogen), this may indicate that the medication is not effectively managing the kidney disease.
Any worries or observations you may have should be brought up with your vet, who can advise you on the best course of action for your cat. Results from blood tests may show uremia and other parameters in the final stage of renal failure.
Your veterinarian will inform you of the effectiveness of the recommended course of action and other options. Euthanasia decisions should consider all aspects of your cat’s life, including the expense of caring for a sick cat. But ultimately, euthanasia might be the best course of action if you observe that your ill cat with cat kidney disease isn’t getting better and is suffering.
What Causes Kidney Failure In Cats?
There are two types of kidney (renal) failure in cats: acute and chronic. These differ in the cause, treatment, and prognosis of the disease.
Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure is a sudden loss of kidney function that various factors, such as dehydration, poisoning, or an underlying health condition, can cause.
Some of the common reasons acute kidney/renal failure happens:
• Dehydration: Dehydration can cause the kidneys to shut down, as they rely on an adequate supply of fluids to function correctly. Causes of dehydration in cats may include vomiting, diarrhea, and insufficient water intake.
• Poisoning: Poisoning can cause kidney damage and lead to acute kidney failure. Common toxins that can cause kidney failure in cats include antifreeze, certain medications, and plants.
• Infection: Bacterial infections or viral infections (such as feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus) can cause inflammation and damage to the kidneys and kidney failure.
• Trauma: Injuries or trauma to the kidneys (such as from a car accident) can cause acute kidney failure.
• Underlying health conditions: Certain health conditions, such as cancer or kidney stones, can lead to acute kidney failure.
Chronic Renal Failure
This type of renal failure—more common in elderly cats—doesn’t happen quickly; it often develops after months or even years. Some of the causes of chronic renal failure include:
• Aging: The most common cause of chronic renal failure in cats is an age-related decline in kidney function. As cats get older, their kidneys may become less efficient at filtering waste products from the blood.
• Congenital abnormalities: Cats may be born with abnormal kidneys or defects that can lead to chronic renal failure.
• High blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to chronic renal failure.
• Infection: Bacterial infections or viral infections (such as feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus) can cause inflammation and damage to the kidneys.
• Toxins: Exposure to toxins (such as antifreeze or certain medications) can cause chronic kidney damage.
• Inflammation: Inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis, can cause chronic kidney damage.
• Cancer: Certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma or leukemia, can cause kidney damage and lead to chronic renal failure.
• Cysts – Polycystic kidneys could cause kidney (renal) failure.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Cat Dying Of Kidney Disease?
• Decreased urine output: As the kidneys become less able to filter waste products from the blood, the cat may produce less urine.
• Increased thirst: As the cat’s body tries to compensate for the decreased urine output, it may drink more water.
• Loss of appetite: Cats with kidney failure may lose their appetite or become picky eaters.
• Vomiting: Cats with kidney failure may vomit frequently.
• Diarrhea: Cats with kidney failure may have diarrhea or softer stools.
• Weight loss: Cats with kidney failure may lose weight despite having a good appetite.
• Weakness: Cats with kidney failure may become weak or lethargic.
• Bad breath: Cats with kidney failure may have bad breath due to the build-up of waste products in the blood.
You may also notice the distinctive stiffness in your cat’s legs and arched back, which are signs of pain brought on by acute renal failure, depending on the type of renal failure. If your cat urinates frequently or not at all, this could be another indication of kidney failure.
With the right treatment plan and perfect supplements, many cats will have a good quality of life after diagnosis.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common condition in cats, particularly in older animals. Cats with CKD have damaged kidneys that cannot effectively filter waste products from the blood. This can lead to a build-up of toxins in the body, which can cause various health problems.
Some common symptoms of CKD in cats include increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, vomiting, and poor appetite. Various factors, including high blood pressure, infections, and exposure to toxins, can cause CKD.
Cats with CKD need to receive treatment to help manage their condition and slow the progression of the disease. This may involve medications, changes to the diet, and regular check-ups with a veterinarian.
What Is the Life Expectancy Of A Cat With Chronic Kidney Disease?
The life expectancy of a cat with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the disease, the cat’s overall health, and the cat’s age. Usually, older cats suffer from chronic kidney disease. Cats with CKD generally tend to have a shorter lifespan than healthy cats. However, with proper treatment and management, cats with CKD can live for several more years.
Cats with mild to moderate CKD may be able to live for several more years with proper treatment and management. This may include medications to help control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease, as well as dietary changes to help support kidney function.
Cats with advanced stages of CKD may have a shorter lifespan. In these cases, treatment may focus on providing supportive care to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. It is important to work closely with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment options for a cat with CKD.
What Are the Final Stages Of Kidney Failure In Cats?
The final stages of kidney failure in cats, also known as an end-stage renal disease (ESRD), are characterized by a severe decline in kidney function. At this point, the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste products from the blood effectively, and the cat’s body becomes overwhelmed by toxins.
In the final stages of kidney failure, cats may experience the most common symptoms, including:
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• High urea and creatinine levels
• Low Potassium levels
• High Phosphorus levels
• Bad breath (due to the accumulation of toxins in the body)
• Anemia (a low red blood cell count)
Treatment options at this stage are limited and may include dialysis or kidney transplantation. However, these treatments can be expensive and not practical for all cats. As a result, many cats with ESRD are managed with supportive care, which aims to improve the cat’s quality of life and provide symptom relief.
This may involve medications to control symptoms, a special diet to help manage the disease, and regular fluids to help flush toxins from the body.
It is important to note that the final stages of kidney failure can be challenging for both the cat and its owner. The decision to pursue aggressive treatment or supportive care should be made with the help of a veterinarian and other healthcare team members.
How Long Do Cats Live With Renal Failure?
The prognosis for cats with chronic kidney failure, also known as renal failure, depends on a number of factors, including the underlying cause of the disease, the severity of the kidney damage, and the cat’s overall health. In general, cats with renal failure can live for several months to several years, depending on the treatment and care they receive.
Cats with mild to moderate kidney failure may be able to maintain a good quality of life for an extended period of time with proper treatment and management. This may involve medications, a special diet, and regular fluids to help flush toxins from the body. With this type of care, many cats are able to live for several years.
Cats with advanced or end-stage kidney failure (end-stage renal disease, or ESRD) typically have a poorer prognosis. At this stage, the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste products from the blood effectively, and the cat’s body becomes overwhelmed by toxins.
Treatment options at this stage are limited and may include dialysis or kidney transplantation. However, these treatments can be expensive and may not be practical for all cats, and cat euthanasia may be recommended. As a result, many cats with ESRD are managed with supportive care, which aims to improve the cat’s quality of life and provide symptom relief.
Can You Prevent Kidney Disease In Cats?
There is no sure way to prevent kidney disease in cats, as the exact cause of the disease is often unknown. However, there are specific steps that you can take to help reduce your cat’s risk of developing kidney disease:
1. Keep your cat at a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of kidney disease, as well as several other health problems.
2. Feed a high-quality diet: A balanced and appropriate diet for your cat’s age, size, and activity level can help support kidney health.
3. Keep your cat hydrated: Adequate hydration is important for maintaining healthy kidney function. Encourage your cat to drink more water by providing clean, fresh water at all times, and consider adding moisture to your cat’s diet by feeding wet food or adding water to dry food.
4. Keep your cat’s teeth clean: Dental problems can lead to kidney disease, as bacteria from infected teeth can enter the bloodstream and cause kidney inflammation. Brush your cat’s teeth regularly or have a veterinarian clean them as needed.
5. Have your cat vaccinated: Certain infections, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of kidney disease. Keeping your cat up-to-date on vaccinations can help protect against these infections.
6. Have your cat examined regularly by a veterinarian: Regular check-ups can help your veterinarian detect kidney disease in its early stages when it is more likely to be treatable.
Following these steps may help reduce your cat’s risk of developing kidney disease. Make sure to meet your cat’s needs.
However, it is essential to note that even with the best preventive measures, kidney disease can still occur, so it is necessary to monitor your cat’s health and seek veterinary care if you notice any changes.
When Should You Consider Euthanizing Your Cat With Kidney Failure?
Deciding to euthanize a cat with kidney failure can be a difficult and emotional decision. It is essential to consider the cat’s quality of life and your feelings and circumstances.
There are a few general guidelines that may help you determine when it is time to consider euthanasia:
• The cat is suffering: If your cat is in severe pain or discomfort or is experiencing other serious symptoms that cannot be effectively managed, euthanasia may be the kindest option.
• The cat is not responding to treatment: If your cat is receiving treatment for kidney failure but is not responding or is only experiencing temporary improvement, euthanasia may be an option to consider.
• The cat’s quality of life has declined significantly: If your cat’s kidney failure has progressed to the point where it is no longer able to enjoy the things it once did, such as eating, playing, or interacting with you, euthanasia may be a humane choice.
• Dull and sunken eyes
• Bad breath and body odor
It is important to note that these are just general guidelines, and the decision to euthanize a cat with kidney failure should be made on a case-by-case basis, with the help of a veterinarian and other healthcare team members. It is also important to consider your feelings and circumstances and make a decision that is best for you and your cat.
Kidney disease in cats, when to euthanize? Deciding to euthanize your beloved feline friend with kidney disease is a complex and emotional decision that should be made with the help of a veterinarian and other healthcare team members.
Be open and honest with your veterinarian and other members of the healthcare team about your concerns, and work together to come to a decision that is best for both you and your cat.