Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What is Chronic Renal Disease?

Chronic Renal Disease

(chronic renal disease) is one of the most common feline diseases we see here at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic, especially in cats ages 7 years and older.
Chronic Renal Disease, Chronic Renal Failure and Chronic Renal Insufficiency all pertain to the same disfunction in the kidneys.

There are about 200,000 tiny structures (nephrons) in the kidneys that eliminate waste products and regulate electrolytes. CRF forms when the nephrons die off and the waste products and electrolytes cannot be processed through. Waste products begin to accumulate in the cat’s body and the cat begins to become poisoned by its own waste products.

The kidneys have 5 main functions: to filter waste from the body (specifically urea and creatinine), regulate electrolytes (potassium, calcium, phosphorus and sodium), The production of erythropoietin (helps stimulate bone marrow to produce red blood cells), produce renin (enzyme that controls blood pressure) and the production and concentration of urine. There are two types of renal failure that exist, chronic or acute. CRF is a progressive and irreversible deterioration of the kidneys functions. Acute renal failure (ARF) is described as a quick shut down of kidney function. Causes of ARF in cats are: urinary blockages, other infectious diseases, trauma and the ingestion of toxins. ARF is just as serious as CRF and can quickly become fatal.


Symptoms of CRF are increased thirst (polydipsia) and excessive urination (polyuria). With progression of the disease may also come loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, poor hair coat and emaciation. The kidneys only need to be working at 30% for normal functioning, which is why no symptoms will be evident until 70% of kidney function is lost. Cats are uncanny at hiding their illnesses and the very early signs are subtle.


CRF can be caused by two or more contributing factors such as age, genetics, environment and other diseases. In more recent years, more attention has been focused on high blood pressure, low potassium levels, acidified diets and dental disease as a culprit of renal failure.


A diagnosis of CRF can be made through a urine test to determine if the cat is concentrating its urine. A low specific gravity of urine means the kidneys are not functioning properly and are not passing the body's waste the way they should be.

A blood panel can determine the levels of creatinine and BUN (blood urea nitrogen) which can give some indication of the progression of the disease. An elevated level of creatinine is a clear sign of lost kidney function. The blood panel also helps to determine any related abnormalities involving other organs, changes in the electrolytes and minerals, and signs of anemia. Other tests can help to determine the severity of the disease.

Home Care

There is no cure for CRF but with supportive care at home, the disease can be managed for a significant amount of time. The key to CRF management is to control the amount of waste products being filtered through the kidneys. In order to control this process it is extremely important to feed the proper diet and give all prescribed medications and fluid therapy at home. If your cat is 7 years or older please have them see their veterinarian every 6 months to ensure proper care. With early testing and early detection of this disease, cats can live happy and active lives for years to come.

We found a great website in regards to all forms of renal disease. To view the full article and related articles please visit Feline CRF Information Center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many thanks.