Posts Tagged ‘CRF’

Kidney disease

Feline kidney disease, a.k.a. chronic renal failure (CRF), a.k.a. chronic renal insufficiency… a bit of a daunting topic for me to tackle in a quick lunchtime blog post, I’ll admit. However, I get asked about kidney disease a LOT, so I’m going to give it a stab.


First, I’ll say upfront I am CONVINCED that dry food leads to the preponderance of kidney disease )(and urinary tract disorders and other ailments) we see today.  I could kick myself when I think of the idiocy of treating my first older cat with CRF with sub-q fluids, all the while feeding her a DRY (kibble) diet.  Moisture is imperative for good kidney and urinary tract health.  While cats fed only dry food drink more water, they do not drink ENOUGH additional water.  Studies showed the dry fed cats’ urine was less dilute (contained less water).

Once kidney (renal) function is lost, generally it cannot be regained.  So, when I get a call, email, or post asking about a cat with renal insufficiency and whether the cat can be helped, I’m honest.  The progress of the failure can be slowed, maybe (optimistically) stopped, but what is lost is GONE and will not return.

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My friend Adrienne said if vitamin B12 was a person, she thinks I might marry it. Maybe she’s right. I’m a big fan. Oh, I like lots of the vitamins, don’t get me wrong… love me some vitamin D for example, but you can overdose vitamin D, so you need to exercise some caution, and some feel supplementation of vitamin D can cause problems if you suffer from a autoimmune disease. As far as I know, while B12 is the only B-vitamin that seems to be stored by the body (in the liver), there are no known risks of overdose.

Where does vitamin B12 come from? It’s found in meat and dairy products. Vegans should consider vitamin B12 supplementation. Of course, my interest is in cats and if they’re fed properly (recognizing they are true carnivores) they should be getting vitamin B12 in their diet, but most commercial foods and homemade recipes supplement all the B-vitamins, just in case. The B-vitamins are water-soluble and, as I noted, generally not stored by the body, so there’s no known risk of overdose.

What can cause deficiency of Vitamin B12 in cats? Anything that causes excessive drinking and/or urination (diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, etc.) can deplete B12 and the other B vitamins as they are “washed out” of the body. Giving sub-q fluids could deplete vitamin B. Chronic diarrhea can also deplete B12 as most B-12 is lost in fecal matter. Cats with an inflamed gastro-intestinal tract (such as cats with IBD) may not absorb B12 properly as it’s absorbed in the intestines. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia, neuropathy, other neurological issues, etc.

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Afer, a.k.a. Lil Miss Mouser, a.k.a. Afer E. Baby, Afer E. Grannie


I adopted Afer from the shelter in January 2004. I loved Afer from the minute I began volunteering there in June 2002. She’d been at Tree House since she was 3 years old (1991). I felt I didn’t have room for any more cats, though. She was adopted by someone else in the spring of 2003. However, somehow she escaped her new home and was on the streets for months. Honestly, we had little hope for a 15 year old cat loose on the streets. However, someone found her, and through her microchip she found her way back to the shelter.

In January 2004, she spent time in the shelter’s clinic with gastro-intestinal issues. That cinched it for me. I couldn’t stand it if she spent the rest of her days in the shelter. I took her home, at age 16. She’s flourished. She gets night crazies, and loves her catnip mouse. She loves to put the “younger girls” in their place, if they act up. (I do feel bad for the girls, but it’s so hard not to laugh at a little gray Afer E. Grannie all puffed up and looking like a little old woman with a walker whose hitting a hoodlum on the head with her purse.)

Afer loves to be brushed and petted, and will do “kitty yoga”, practically doing handstands her butt gets so high. She’s still nervous of being picked up or restrained, but we’re working on that. She’s doing extremely well, considering within her first week here I had medicate her. She likes to play with pom pom balls, her catnip mouse, catnip pillows, and plastic rings. She also enjoys napping in a donut bed, or watching the world from a windowsill.

Afer was diagnosed with kidney disease in August 2004. Fortunately, with treatment her values are staying fairly stable. I took Afer to the emergency vet clinic Christmas Eve, 2006 with labored breathing. She had 145 cc’s of fluid drained from her chest. She was able to come home Christmas Day. A visit to a cardiologist showed nothing significant – minor heart issues and very small nodules on her liver (too small to biopsy). So far, the fluid hasn’t recurred.

In May of 2007, she had a vestibular episode secondary to an ear infection. (It counts among the scariest moments of my life. I saw her begin rolling violently on the floor and just started screaming and crying as I tried to hold her so she wouldn’t hurt herself.) Once again, she amazed us all with a speedy and complete recovery! Go Afer!


Update: Sadly, I lost Afer October 10, 2008 to congestive heart failure.

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