Cat CRF Resource Page

What You Need to Know About Cat CRF and Feline Renal Failure Symptoms

What is Feline Chronic Renal Failure?

Feline chronic renal failure, or CRF, is a common illness that can affect any cat breed. CRF occurs when a cat’s kidneys fail to function effectively. As a result, toxic materials start to build up inside their body that can lead to various health problems. While the condition can affect any breed of cat, it’s common in older cats, and unfortunately it is a terminal condition. Fortunately, there are methods to ensure a cat suffering from CRF can still live an extended life period, despite the condition.

Kidneys are just as important to cats as they are to humans

Kidneys are essentially a filter which removes waste and toxins from the blood. Their kidneys also serve as a blood pressure regulator, as well as a vitamin d and calcium metabolizer. Because of these functions, it’s vital that your cat has at least one functioning kidney to help keep it healthy.

Symptoms of feline CRF aren’t always easy to detect

Some of the earliest signs which may indicate your cat has CRF, is an increased thirst, consistent need for urination, and subtle weight loss. These can be hard to notice as they are very discrete changes in normal behavior. It’s not until things get serious when you may begin to question the health of your cat. More serious signs of CRF include vomiting, severe weight loss, increased thirst, severe urination and low appetite. They may also be very inactive and look generally disheveled. If your cat is showing any of these symptoms of CRF, you need to call your vet urgently and schedule a check-up.

CRF can be caused both by hereditary causes and acquired

Cats can get CRF for a number of reasons, some of which cannot be avoided. Some of the main hereditary conditions include polycystic kidney disease, renal hypoplasia and renal dysplasia. Polycystic kidney disease happens when cysts form in the kidneys, while renal hypoplasia and renal dysplasia are abnormal developments of the kidneys. Infections that affect the kidneys are also a leading cause of CRF. If your cat happens to lick materials that are toxic, like lilies or antifreeze, their chance of developing CRF dramatically increase also.

There are four main types of treatment

  1. Medication: these are generally prescribed to help your cat cope better with some of the symptoms he or she may face. If your cat is suffering from anemia, medications such as Procrit and Epogen can make them more energetic. Calcium imbalance is also a common symptom of CRF, and can be treated with Rocaltrol. Periactin and Pepcid Acid Controller are usually used to treat loss of appetite and stomach irritation, respectively.
  2. Special diet: The ideal diet for cats with CRF is to be low in protein and phosphate. The amount of sodium your cat consumes should also be limited, because sodium can contribute to the development of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a catalyst for CRF related issues and should be avoided to encourage healthy recovery. Your cat's diet should also contain high levels of potassium and vitamin B, as they will have lost a lot of these essential vitamins during their excessive urination. If your cat has lost a significant amount of weight, methods should be taken to gradually increase the amount of calories they consume. This will slowly help build themselves back to their regular weight.
  3. IV fluid therapy: this type of therapy is fast acting, as it quickly rids the cat’s body of any toxins whilst simultaneously keeping them well hydrated (as they will likely be very dehydrated). Your vet will likely put a catheter into a vein into either the cat’s front or hind leg, or alternatively in the neck.
  4. Kidney transplant: this is one of the most permanent treatments for cats with CRF, especially if other treatments are ineffective or the kidneys are no longer functioning at all. It works by replacing your cats failing kidney with a healthy kidney from another cat. This will enable them to live a much longer life, although they will need to take anti-rejection medication for an indefinite period of time.

Cats with Feline CRF can still lead a long, and relatively healthy life

Even after suffering from kidney issues, cats can still live for many years. Despite the damage to their kidneys, treatment, recovery and scheduled appointments with your vet will ensure they live healthily. Technology and veterinary science have advanced hugely over the last few years, which means that early detection of symptoms of CRF will ensure quick treatment and recovery.

Like with any other set of symptoms your cat may be exhibiting, if you’re unsure what the issue may be, be sure to check in with your vet. Early diagnosis and treatment will mean your cat can recover sooner and go back to being their normal purring self.