Managing Kidney Disease In My Own Cat

Author: Sarah Brandon, DVM

April 12, 2013

There's an old theory in veterinary medicine: any pet owned by someone in this profession will end up with weird, never-heard-of-before conditions. Case in point: our calico cat, Squeaky, developed bladder stones at the ripe old age of 2 despite growing up on a high-quality canned food diet (with the occasional crunchy treat). We performed surgery and removed said stones, sending them out to Michigan State for analysis. What did we find? Well, the stones were comprised of minerals found in animals with liver disease; she did not have that at the time and has never developed it since. She is now a happy 17-year-old now, ruling over our household.

Needless to say, when our 14-year-old, Spanky, recently started having appetite problems we just presumed he had something awful and untreatable. Routine senior lab work revealed not something scary, but rather something regularly seen in older cats: kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. These are two of the most common senior cat conditions we find and it was quite a relief to be able to manage these instead of the rare issues we anticipated.

Spanky was promptly treated with radioactive iodine 131 for his thyroid condition and responded quite well. For his kidneys, we are pleased to report that his current canned food diet (with water added to stew consistency) and once-daily potassium supplement are managing this condition nicely. This, in addition to his pain relief mediations for severe knee arthritis, is keeping our boy happy and healthy. He has no idea that his kidneys aren’t up to full function and enjoys jumping up onto his favorite perch in the afternoon for some neighborhood-watching and window-filtered sunshine. We expect Spanky to continue to do well in the coming months and years.