Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
Renal failure simply means the kidneys aren't working. But they seldom shut down all at once, so a kidney problem can become "chronic," or, long-standing. In that case, the kidney's tissues gradually deteriorate, until at some point, there is not enough functional tissue left to do the job. The kidneys' job is to filter impurities out of the blood. So the individual usually dies when those toxins become overwhelming.
Fortunately, kidneys can maintain normal, to nearly normal, function for a long time - until only a tiny fraction of the kidney remains. However, this makes it easy to miss the signs of disease until it's too late. Add to that a cat's ability to keep a stiff upper lip through some of the most debilitating conditions and their reluctance to show pain, and you have a formula for tragedy.
Since cats seldom admit to feeling poorly, you have to be extra vigilant with your kitty's health. Watch eating patterns, drinking habits, sleep cycles, personality changes, and litter box routine. These all can provide clues to your cat's health. With CRF it is especially important to watch these things.
The disease typically progresses slowly, but it can run a more rapid course, too. It depends on why the kidneys are failing and how well the "patient" is supported.
Causes can include certain diseases of the kidneys, such as pyelonephritis, amyloidosis and chronic obstructive uropathy in older cats, or it can be caused by congenital defects or tumors in younger ones.
What to watch for:
What to do:
Remember to make dietary changes slowly as changes made too rapidly can make the condition worse.
Copyright © 2009 - Dr. RJ Peters