Chronic Renal Disease

Chronic kidney disease is sadly a very common cause of illness in older cats and sometimes even those that aren’t that old. While it used to be considered a death sentence however, we are now learning how to diagnose it sooner and provide supportive care to allow the kidneys to function well for months to years after initial diagnosis. The list of possible underlying causes is long indeed, as is the list of potential treatments, which means we still have a lot to learn about the disease. Treatment protocols can vary significantly between vets and even between countries so be sure to ask if you have any questions about your cat’s care.

  • Cat — download or order a paper copy of their book about chronic renal failure, a very well written and comprehensive resource aimed specifically at owners. They also have written guides for owners as well as a good description of how to give subcutaneous fluids here:
  • Cornell University Feline Health — a good summary of kidney disease from an American point of view and — a series of videos to help owners better understand the disease and how to treat it, including a video step by step guide to giving subcutaneous fluids at home (use the menu on that page to see the different videos).
  • International Cat — several good pages of information about kidney disease and how to manage it, including a guide to giving subcutaneous fluids to your cat at home, look under ‘kidney disease’.
  • Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney — a brilliant resource. I don’t know how she has managed to do it, but Helen, who is not a vet but an extremely well-informed cat owner herself, has put together this incredible website about the disease. Particularly good for learning more about the lesser known treatments and where to source them, she also runs an online support group for owners of cats with kidney disease.
  • International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) — with loads of reliable information about the disease, this website explains how cats are ‘staged’ once they have been diagnosed with renal disease to help guide treatment protocols and provide an accurate prognosis. Quite technical, but great information if you’re up for it.
  • Cats Protection — along with guides for general cat care, they also do a series of veterinary guides for many different diseases.