Hello, and welcome to my website, though I am sorry you need to be here.
My name is Helen. I have had three cats with CKD, Tanya, Thomas and Ollie
(their photos are above). I created this website because I know first hand
the shock and fear of the diagnosis, and how helpless it can make you
feel, and I wanted to give people the detailed, practical information
which would have helped me the first time I received the CKD diagnosis.
If your cat has also just been diagnosed
you are probably feeling shell-shocked and frightened.
may be in the midst of a crisis, perhaps on intravenous fluids (IV, or a
drip, or a flush) at the vet's.
If your cat has high bloodwork values, you may
not even have been offered any treatment, but
instead told that there is no hope and you
should just put your cat to sleep. Perhaps your
cat has had CKD for a while, but you are now realising
that you need to become more proactive if you want him or her to remain
well. Or maybe you've caught things early, but are anxious to find out all
you can about this disease so you can do all you can to keep your cat
stable. Whatever your
situation, please take a deep breath and don't give up hope, because it may
well be possible to help
What is Kidney Disease?
There are two main kinds of kidney disease:
Chronic Kidney Disease,
abbreviated as CKD; and
Acute Kidney Injury, abbreviated as
Kidney disease used to be known as kidney failure, and you may therefore
see references in some of my links to Chronic Renal Failure (CRF), or
Acute Renal Failure (ARF). I used to use these expressions myself, but
these days the academic literature prefers the less scary and more
accurate expression, kidney disease, so that is what I use throughout the
AKI is a serious condition which usually comes on suddenly and which is
often triggered by a particular event or "insult", such as your cat eating
something poisonous. Lilies and antifreeze are both extremely toxic to
cats and may cause AKI. AKI is usually treated with
intravenous fluids (IV fluids, also known as a
drip) and other
medications at the vet's and, although it is hard to treat, if the cat
survives the initial crisis, he/she can often regain much or sometimes all
of his/her normal kidney function.
CKD may also manifest itself very suddenly and require IV treatment at the
vet's, but in contrast to AKI it is an ongoing disease in which it is not
possible to regain lost kidney function; so the goal is to keep the
remaining function for as long as possible.
This site is primarily designed for people with a cat with the chronic
form of the disease (CKD), but may be of some use to those with a cat with AKI. Please visit the
Injury page for more information.
This site shares all the
information and tips I know, in great detail, in order to help your cat
feel better and hopefully extend his/her life. I
am not a vet myself, just an ordinary person who has
educated herself about CKD in cats.
If you are a vet visiting this site because your client has mentioned it
to you, I can imagine your heart is sinking about now. It may reassure you
to know that wherever
possible I do try to offer veterinary information to support what I say;
many vets do recommend the site, including a number of vet schools and
veterinary specialists (see the
I try to share the information I have using layman's
language. My goals are to:
which you may be seeing now or which you may see in the future;
explain what these symptoms and
your cat's test resultsmay
discuss treatments which can often help,
many of which are not very expensive (the most commonly used treatments
can usually be obtained for around US$5-10 a week in total);
cover the emotional aspects of living with CKDand help you to cope with it, including at the end of
your CKD journey.
The site provides information on an international basis,
aiming to help you wherever you happen to live, although in practice much
of the information relates to the USA and Europe since these are the areas
where the most information and treatments are available.
Where to Start
This site is extremely
comprehensive, as you can see from the number of links in the sidebar on
the left. But don't panic, you won't need to learn about every single
Most people who arrive here for the first time have two
they want to know how severe their cat's case is.
they want to know how best to help their cat, and
I therefore recommend that you read these pages
Key Issues - the crucial issues to focus on in order to best help your cat. Don't
worry, it is highly unlikely that you will need to deal with all of them
These pages will get you started quickly so you can hit
the ground running. Then, later on, you can gradually get up to speed on
CKD in more detail. The
Site Overview - Finding What You Need
page provides a brief summary of the contents of each page,
so if you're not sure where to find something, check here, or just
check the sidebar on the left.
If Your Vet Has Recommended
Please read the
Just Diagnosed? What You Need to Know First page urgently.
Unfortunately, some vets are not overly familiar with the latest
treatments for CKD, and may recommend euthanasia prematurely. You need to
educate yourself and work out how severe your cat's case is before you
make this irrevocable decision.
Oh, and do not panic if your vet says your cat has lost 70% of kidney
function - it's actually normal for CKD not to be diagnosed until thst
much function has been lost. What matters is how well your cat can manage
with the function that is left, and a lot of cats do well.
My Three CKD Cats
This website is named in honour of Tanya, who was my
first CKD cat. Unfortunately Tanya did not receive as much proactive care
as Thomas and Ollie, because at the time that she was diagnosed (1998), I
did not know about the treatment options described on this website (and of
course many of them were not available back then). I
tried desperately to find information to help her but I was not online, so
my options were limited. Once I got online, I vowed that nobody else
should have to go through that, so I created this website.
Thomas, in contrast, had much more severe CKD yet survived longer than
Tanya because he received more proactive treatment.
Ollie was a somewhat
different case: he came to me a week before his sixteenth birthday with relatively mild
CKD but with a host of other health problems which ultimately took him
You can read more about all of them
here. You can
also read some
Success Stories here, some of whom survived for years with CKD. I
can't promise the same success for your cat, but in most cases it's
certainly worth a try.
Other Urinary Tract Problems
I sometimes hear from people whose cats have lower
urinary tract problems rather than kidney problems. Lower urinary tract
problems are relatively common in cats, but do not automatically lead to
kidney problems. So please be sure your cat has kidney issues before
deciding this is the website to help your cat, because treating for the
wrong condition is at best pointless and at worst dangerous.
Sadly, yes, CKD is terminal. BUT that does not necessarily mean death is
imminent: it is often possible to buy the cat months or even years of
quality life. In fact, with appropriate treatment, quite a few CKD cats
not only live for a long time, they eventually die of other causes, with
the CKD firmly under control at the time of death.
An analogy used by my vet is that a CKD cat is approaching the edge of a
precipice: the cat may approach the precipice very slowly, taking years to
reach it; the cat may approach quite quickly; whichever way the cat
approaches the precipice, it may be possible to grab the cat and pull
him/her back even after he/ she has started to fall over the edge, and
this could be done several times if you move quickly enough.
The good news is there are almost certainly a few
things you can do to help your cat.
This site is geared towards slowing the progression towards the precipice,
and may also be able to help pull your cat back if he/she has started to
fall over the edge, while simultaneously trying to make the cat's
remaining time more comfortable. CKD cats can look very
ill at diagnosis, but improve dramatically with treatment, so I strongly
recommend trying treatments for a few weeks before considering euthanasia.
or enter your e-mail address in the box below and click Subscribe.
Once you apply to join, you will receive an e-mail asking for
your name, country of residence, cat's name and age and reason for joining
the group - you have to
respond to this before your membership will be approved.
You can read more about
the group and how it works here.
TREATING YOUR CAT WITHOUT VETERINARY ADVICE CAN BE
tried very hard to ensure that the information provided in this website is
accurate, but I am NOT a vet, just an ordinary person who has lived
through CKD with three cats. This website is for educational purposes
only, and is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat any cat. Before
trying any of the treatments described herein, you MUST consult a
qualified veterinarian and obtain professional advice on the correct
regimen for your cat and his or her particular requirements; and you
should only use any treatments described here with the full knowledge and
approval of your vet. No responsibility can be accepted.
If your cat
appears to be in pain or distress, do not waste time on the internet,
contact your vet immediately.
This site was
created using Microsoft software, and therefore it is best viewed in
Internet Explorer. I know it doesn't always display too well in other
browsers, but I'm not an IT expert so I'm afraid I don't know how to
change that. I would love it to display perfectly everywhere, but my focus
is on making the information available. I am trying to teach myself to use
another type of software, in the hope that using it will enable the site to
display better in the future.
You may print
out one copy of each section of this site for your own information and/or
one copy to give to your vet (though it is almost 1000 pages long, so it is
probably cheaper and it is definitely easier to buy the book version!), but this site may not otherwise be
reproduced or reprinted, on the internet or elsewhere, without the
permission of the site owner, who can be contacted via the