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Vet Talk: CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) in Cats

Posted January 6, 2017


Chronic renal failure (CRF) also known as chronic kidney failure is when there is a slow, progressive loss of kidney function, which eventually leads to permanent kidney failure. CRF is one of the most common forms of illness and death in older cats (though it can be seen in younger cats as well).

Cats with chronic renal failure may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Excessive drinking of water
  • Excessive urination
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Losing weight

The increased water consumption is due to the loss of the kidneys’ ability to concentrate the urine. Usually, pet parents are not aware their cats have chronic renal failure until approximately 75% of the kidney tissue is nonfunctional. Anorexia and other symptoms occur due to the toxins in the blood circulating unfiltered by the kidneys.

Your veterinarian will diagnose CRF in your cat by preforming a blood test, urinalysis and imaging tests such as x-rays and an ultrasound. A full physical exam, blood pressure measurement, and urine culture (testing for bacterial infection) are also necessary to diagnose renal failure.

In renal failure, blood tests will show elevations of BUN and Creatinine (blood enzymes) in light of a low concentration of urine. Anemia, low blood potassium levels and high phosphorous levels are also seen.

Some cats are able to maintain their body weight and live relatively comfortable lives for years, while others succumb to the disease more quickly. In my practice, I recommend senior cats and dogs have biannual physical exams with senior blood work and urinalysis. Many times, I am able to catch early renal disease in cats this way. This early diagnosis of CRF gives my patients a better chance at living longer.

For CRF in cats, I recommend diet and supplemental therapy depending on the stage of the renal disease. With diet, pet parents may want to limit the amount of protein, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium their cats are getting. Protein restriction is often recommended for pets with kidney disease, as protein is broken down by the kidneys. Excess phosphorus in the body can occur in pets with kidney failure, and can combine with calcium-forming crystals. Animal proteins are much higher in phosphorus than plant proteins. Proteins like eggs are a great protein for cats with chronic renal failure, but check that blood tests do not reveal acidosis.

I have also had great success supplementing diet along with NHV Tripsy, NHV Milk Thistle and NHV Turmeric. The NHV Tripsy helps strengthen the kidneys, while the NHV Milk Thistle helps detoxify the body and liver, and the NHV Turmeric is a great overall health supplement.

If you would like any recipes, please contact NHV and they will be happy to supply you with a recipe, specific for cats with chronic renal failure. If your cat is suffering from CRF and you would like a holistic veterinarian consultation, feel free to book one through this link.

Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

2 replies.

  1. Roza Iovtcheva says:

    My 17 years cat has a CRF and really do not like and eat the prescription diet. He would eat other food, though, likes raw food.
    Could you give me some recipes for making a food for him, that will be appropriate for his illness and hopefully he’ll eat?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. NHV says:

      Hello Roza,

      We are very sorry to hear that your poor kitty is dealing with CRF. It definitely doesn’t make it any easier on us pet parents when they are picky about what they eat. We do have a collection of recipes specifically tailored for cats with CRF and we would be more than happy to email you a few of these to try. Hopefully he will like more than one of them and can have some variety in his diet. If at any time you have any questions about the recipes, our supplements, or require general information, please do reach out to us, we would love to work with you to find the most comprehensive approach to your kitty’s condition.

      Yours in wellness,

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