TANYA'S

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO

FELINE CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE

    

 
   

WHAT HAPPENS IN CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE

 

ON THIS PAGE:


Main Functions of the Kidneys


Why CKD Occurs


The Role of the Nephrons


Why CKD Cannot Normally Be Detected At An Early Stage


Links


 

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Tanya's CKD Support Group Now

 

HOME


Site Overview


What You Need to Know First


Alphabetical Index


Glossary


Research Participation Opportunities


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WHAT IS CKD?


What Happens in CKD?


Causes of CKD


How Bad is It?


Is There Any Hope?


Acute Kidney Injury


 

KEY ISSUES


Nausea, Vomiting, Appetite Loss and Excess Stomach Acid


Maintaining Hydration


The Importance of Phosphorus Control


All About Hypertension


All About Anaemia


All About Constipation


Potassium Imbalances


Metabolic Acidosis


Kidney Stones


 

SUPPORT


Coping with CKD


Tanya's Support Group


Success Stories


 

SYMPTOMS


Alphabetical List of Symptoms and Treatments


Fluid and Urinary  Imbalances (Dehydration, Overhydration and Urinary Issues)


Waste Product Regulation Imbalances (Vomiting, Appetite Loss, Excess Stomach Acid, Gastro-intestinal Problems, Mouth Ulcers Etc.)


Phosphorus and Calcium Imbalances


Miscellaneous Symptoms (Pain, Hiding Etc.)


 

DIAGNOSIS: WHAT DO ALL THE TEST RESULTS MEAN?


Blood Chemistry: Kidney Function, Potassium, Other Tests (ALT, Amylase, (Cholesterol, Etc.)


Calcium, Phosphorus, Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) and Secondary Hyperparathyroidism


Complete Blood Count (CBC): Red and White Blood Cells: Anaemia and Infection


Urinalysis (Urine Tests)


Other Tests: Ultrasound, Biopsy, X-rays etc.


Renomegaly (Enlarged Kidneys)


Which Tests to Have and Frequency of Testing


Factors that Affect Test Results


Normal Ranges


International and US Measuring Systems


 

TREATMENTS


Which Treatments are Essential


Fluid and Urinary Issues (Fluid Retention, Infections, Incontinence, Proteinuria)


Waste Product Regulation (Mouth Ulcers, GI Bleeding, Antioxidants, Adsorbents, Azodyl, Astro's CRF Oil)


Phosphorus, Calcium and Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (Calcitriol)


Miscellaneous Treatments: Stem Cell Transplants, ACE Inhibitors - Fortekor, Steroids, Kidney Transplants)


Antibiotics and Painkillers


Holistic Treatments (Including Slippery Elm Bark)


ESAs (Aranesp, Epogen etc.) for Severe Anaemia


General Health Issues in a CKD Cat: Fleas, Arthritis, Dementia, Vaccinations


Tips on Medicating Your Cat


Obtaining Supplies Cheaply in the UK, USA and Canada


Working with Your Vet and Recordkeeping


 

DIET & NUTRITION


Nutritional Requirements of CKD Cats


The B Vitamins (Including Methylcobalamin)


What to Feed (and What to Avoid)


Persuading Your Cat to Eat


Food Data Tables


USA Canned Food Data


USA Dry Food Data


USA Cat Food Manufacturers


UK Canned Food Data


UK Dry Food Data


UK Cat Food Manufacturers


2007 Food Recall USA


 

FLUID THERAPY


Intravenous Fluids


Subcutaneous Fluids


Tips on Giving Subcutaneous Fluids


How to Give Subcutaneous Fluids with a Giving Set


How to Give Subcutaneous Fluids with a Syringe


Subcutaneous Fluids - Winning Your Vet's Support


Dialysis


 

RELATED DISEASES


Heart Problems


Hyperthyroidism


Diabetes


Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)


Pancreatitis


Dental Problems


Anaesthesia


 

OBTAINING SUPPLIES CHEAPLY


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SAYING GOODBYE


The Final Hours


Other People's Losses


Coping with Your Loss


 

MISCELLANEOUS


Early Detection


Prevention


Research


Canine Kidney Disease


Other Illnesses (Cancer, Liver) and Behavioural Problems


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SITEOWNER (HELEN)


My Three CKD Cats: Tanya, Thomas and Ollie


My Multi Ailment Cat, Harpsie


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Home > What is CKD > What Happens in Chronic Kidney Disease

 


Overview


  • This page explains more about the various functions of the kidneys.

  • It is because the kidneys have so many functions that there are so many possible symptoms of CKD. Which ones you might see depends upon which functions are affected.

  • This page also explains why CKD is so common in cats.

  • It discusses why CKD cannot normally be detected until two thirds of function has already been lost.


Main Functions of the Kidneys


 

The kidneys have five main functions:

  1. the regulation of fluid levels in the body;

  2. the regulation, including filtering and disposal, of waste products in the body;

  3. the regulation of electrolytes (salts in the body's cells which are necessary for survival) in the body;

  4. stimulation of red blood cell production; and

  5. production of renin, which controls blood pressure.

In cats with CKD, as the kidneys become more and more damaged and their ability to function declines, an imbalance can arise in any or all of these areas.  So, for example, a cat whose kidneys struggle with the production of red blood cells will develop anaemia.

 


Why CKD Occurs


 

Most cats develop CKD as a result of aging. Studies indicate that around 10% of cats over the age of ten will develop CKD. Older cats are at even greater risk: as many as 30% of cats over the age of 15 have the disease. Therefore, if you have a cat aged 15 or over, s/he has a one in three chance of developing CKD.

 

Younger cats may also develop CKD but it is less likely. If they are very young (less than two years old), this may be because of a congenital problem. Other possible causes include kidney infections, blockages or exposure to toxins. 

 

Dr Katherine James mentions that up to 30% of cats aged over 15 develop CKD.

Clinical benefit of calcitriol in feline chronic renal failure (2005) is a report by the Morris Feline Foundation on a study by Dr David Polzin into the use of Calcitriol in cats with CRF. Dr Polzin mentions that 10% of cats over the age of 10 and 30% of cats over the age of 15 develop CRF.

Management of feline chronic renal failure (1998) Brown SA Waltham Focus 8 pp27-31 mentions that up to a third of geriatric cats may have CKD, and also discusses the disorders that may cause renal disease, but does mention that for many cats, the cause can not be found.

The Cat Doctor mentions that CKD occurs twice as often in Siamese, Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Russian Blue and Burmese cats.

 

The Causes of CKD page explains more about the various possible causes, but in most cases the treatment will be the same whatever the cause.


The Role of Nephrons


 

The main work of the kidneys is performed by units called nephrons, which filter the blood flowing into the kidneys. The measure of the nephrons’ function is called glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

 

Khan Academy has a clear video showing how the nephrons work.

 


Why CKD Cannot Normally Be Detected at an Early Stage


 

A cat’s kidneys contain around 170,000 - 190,000 nephrons. This is actually many more nephrons than are needed for normal function; plus nephrons can increase their individual function to some extent when other nephrons die. This is why people can donate a kidney and still manage perfectly well with one kidney. In the case of a kidney transplant, if you remove one kidney from the donor, the donor's GFR (glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function) will immediately fall to half of what it was, but will then gradually improve as the remaining nephrons increase their function to compensate for the loss of one kidney. Eventually the nephrons in the remaining kidney will reach almost the same level of function as two kidneys.

 

It works in a similar way in a cat with kidney disease, i.e. as damaged nephrons die (they are often described as "scar tissue"), other nephrons take over their work. Eventually, however, all the remaining nephrons will be working fulltime (i.e. there will be no "renal reserve" left). It is at this point, when around 66-75% of function has gone, that you will probably start to see symptoms in your cat, as the remaining nephrons start finding it harder to cope with the workload.

 

This is also why it is actually normal for CKD not to be diagnosed until at least 66% of function has been lost. So please do not feel guilty for not noticing sooner - there was probably nothing for you to notice, plus cats are very good at hiding signs of illness. CKD is not normally painful, so this makes it easier for the cat to hide what is happening. There are a number of possible methods of Early Detection, but some of these are quite specialised, and most people wouldn't know about them; in fact, not all vets are familiar with all of them.

 

Don't waste your energy beating yourself up. What you need to focus on is the fact that cats with CKD can often manage quite well on limited kidney function - for some cats, things only become critical when they have lost as much as 90% of function, and there are  some cats who cope astonishingly well with even less function. So the goal is not to worry about the function that has already been lost, but to try to retain the remaining function for as long as possible, and keep your cat feeling as well as possible. This site aims to help you with both goals.

 


Links to More Information


 

Long Beach Animal Hospital clearly explains more about the way the kidneys work.

The Merck Manual explains kidney function (with diagrams).

Feline Good describes how the kidneys work. 

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has a helpful video overview of feline kidney disease - click on Understanding Kidney Disease.

People and pets: common diseases - kidney disease is a video from University of California at Davis which provides an overview of what happens in CKD and shows a dog receiving dialysis. It also features a human CKD patient talking about how CKD feels.

Kidney Disease is a podcast by Dr Harriet Syme from the Royal Veterinary College which you can download. Scroll down to RVC10.

 

Back to Page Index

 

This page last updated: 22 March 2012

 

Links on this page last checked: 23 March 2012

   

*****

 

TREATING YOUR CAT WITHOUT VETERINARY ADVICE CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

 

I have 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.

 

*****

Copyright © Tanya's Feline CKD Website 2000-2012. All rights reserved.

 

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. When I get time, I'll try to improve how it displays in other browsers.

 

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, 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 Contact Me page.

 

This site is a labour of love, from which I do not make a penny. Please do not steal from me by taking credit for my work.

If you wish to link to this site, please feel free to do so. Please make it clear that this is a link and not your own work. I would appreciate being informed of your link.

 

The group is hosted on yahoo!groups, part of yahoo. It has its own address separate from Tanya's website. You can either click here or copy and paste this link into your browser:

 

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/

 

If you are already familiar with yahoo!groups, just click on the link and apply to join (and don't forget to complete the short questionnaire you'll be sent), but if you'd like to know more about how the group works, read on.

 

I own and run the group, but I am ably assisted by two moderators, Anne V and Anne A. They help with membership queries, approve messages, and do lots of boring admin stuff behind the scenes to help the group run smoothly for the members.

 

The group has various sections, including a photos section and a realtime chat function but for most people the most important part of the group is its message section. Basically, a member who wants support, vet recommendations, or to hear how others are coping with a particular problem, sends a message to the rest of the group. Other members then respond if they can. All messages sent to the group are stored in a message archive which members can search if they wish.

 

The group is private, i.e. messages sent to it are only visible to members, so people are not posting to the internet at large. The names of group members are also private, so nobody will know you are a member unless you choose to send messages to the group.

 


Joining the Group                                                                                                                        Back to Page Index


 

There are two ways to join the group, via the group's website or via e-mail:

 

How to Join the Group via E-mail


Just send an e-mail to

tanyas-ckd-support-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

You should then receive an e-mail in response asking you to confirm that you definitely want to join the group. Just click Reply and send.

 

If you join the group via e-mail, you will be able to send and receive e-mails to the group, but you will not be able to access the group website and read the message archives or look at the photos. If you wish to do that, you will need to set up a yahoo! ID by visiting the group website.

 

How to Join the Group via the Web


You can visit the group's homepage and follow the instructions. If you do this, yahoo!groups will help you set up your yahoo! ID, which gives you access to the group message archive etc. A yahoo! ID is not the same thing as an e-mail address.

 

Here are the steps to follow. Don't worry, this all sounds far worse than it is! You should find that in practice it all works more smoothly than it sounds when you're trying to explain it in writing:

 

Existing yahoo! ID

  1. Go to the group website: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/

  2. Click on the Join this Group button and you'll be taken to a Sign In to Yahoo! page.

  3. Sign in and link Tanya's Support Group to your existing account.

  4. Choose the e-mail address you wish to use for the group (see below).

  5. There is a little box for you to tell me why you would like to join the group. You don't need to be inventive or fancy, it's not a competition, it's just an extra check by yahoo!groups to keep spammers out.

  6. Choose your message delivery options (see below).

  7. Scroll down and click on the blue Join button at the bottom right of the page.

New yahoo! ID

  1. Go to the group website: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/

  2. Click on the Join this Group button and you'll be taken to a Sign In to Yahoo! page.

  3. Scroll down a little and click on the Create New Account button.

  4. On the next page you can create your new account. Some people are somewhat inventive in their responses, but in such cases it is important to remember what responses have been given in case the information is needed later to access the account. I can't see any of this stuff, it's entirely private between you and yahoo!groups, so I cannot help in case of later queries. 

  5. Once the account is successfully set up, you'll be taken to a Congratulations! page.

  6. Before you click on the Continue button on the Congratulations! page, untick the box that makes yahoo! your homepage (unless that is what you want).

  7. Also click on the Edit Marketing Preferences link below the Continue button. This takes you to another page where they helpfully opt you in to everything, so go through and set it as you wish.

  8. Then on the same separate page click on Account Info at the top of the page. You will be asked for your password again and taken to the Account Info page. Click on Profile and opt out of the various choices as you wish. The key thing is, you do have choices here, you can make things as public or private as you wish.

  9. Now click on the Continue button on the original page. You will be taken back to the group page to choose your membership settings.

  10. Choose the e-mail address you wish to use for the group (see below).

  11. There is a little box for you to tell me why you would like to join the group. You don't need to be inventive or fancy, it's not a competition, it's just an extra check by yahoo!groups to keep spammers out.

  12. Choose your message delivery options (see below).

  13. Scroll down and click on the blue Join button at the bottom right of the page.


Membership Settings                                                                                          Back to Page Index


 

There are various choices you need to make regarding your membership of the group. The most important are which e-mail address to use, and which way you read messages sent to the group by group members.

 

Membership Settings: Your E-mail Address


You need to decide which e-mail address you wish to use for the group. If you have created a yahoo! ID, yahoo!groups will normally have also set up a free yahoo! e-mail account for you based on your new yahoo ID. You can use this e-mail address to access the group if you wish, but it's not essential, you can use any e-mail address you wish. Since yahoo! is now scanning messages for advertising purposes (similar to gmail), I would recommend not using yahoo! e-mail if possible (though it would probably be better than using your work address for private stuff).

 

If you do not want to use your free yahoo! e-mail address, click on Add e-mail address to add a different one. Be aware, if you don't add a new address here, yahoo! will use the yahoo! e-mail address as a default address. So if you don't receive the membership questionnaire, it may well be because it's gone to your new yahoo! e-mail address.

 

If you ever wish to change the e-mail address you are using for the group, you can do that here:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/join

 

Membership Settings: Message Delivery


This sets up how you will access messages that are sent to the group.

 

This is a pretty active group. If you're looking after your CKD cat, you want support but you probably don't want a full inbox all the time. To help you manage this issue, you have three options for messages, and you can switch between them all as you wish:

  1. Individual E-mails

  2. Daily Digest

  3. Web Only (No e-mail)

Individual E-mails


This is the default setting. If you apply to join the group via e-mail, you will end up with this setting. If you apply to join the group via the group's webpage, if you don't choose one of the other settings, this is the one you will end up with.

 

This setting means that as soon as somebody sends a message to the group, it is sent directly to your inbox. It's a good choice if you might want to know immediately if somebody has responded to you, or if you would like to store some of the group messages for your reference. It's also good for being able to quickly delete messages which don't interest you.

 

The downside is that this is a busy group, averaging 50-100 group messages each day, so your inbox can quickly get full. One solution is to create a folder to use for group messages. All messages sent to the group have a tag in the subject line [tanya-crf] so you can filter all messages from the group to a new folder using this tag if you wish.

 

With both individual e-mail and message digest options, you can also choose the format of messages sent to you (Display Format), either Fully Featured (html, pretty colours etc.) or Traditional (plain text).

 

Message Digest


This means that you receive e-mails from the group, but yahoo!groups waits until there are about 25 messages available and sends them to you all in one go. With this option, you would therefore only receive 2-4 e-mails a day from the group, but it means you have to wait for responses (though you can still check on the group website for messages) and it can be more difficult to find what you are looking for within each digest.

 

With both individual e-mail and message digest options, you can also choose the format of messages sent to you (Display Format), either Fully Featured (html, pretty colours etc.) or Traditional (plain text).

 

Web Only (No Mail)


This means that you receive no messages at all from the group. This is a wise choice if you are using a work e-mail address, or if you cannot cope with the group's message volume. With this system you simply go to the group's website and read the messages that interest you there. Even if this is not your usual choice, it can be helpful to use this option if you are going on holiday.

 

So make your choices, then click the Join button at the bottom right of the page.

 


Important: Membership Questionnaire                                                           Back to Page Index


OK, so you've successfully applied to join the group. However, there is one more thing you need to do in order to join. I want to protect the group members from spammers, so whichever way you apply to join the group, you will receive a short questionnaire asking:

  1. Your first name

  2. The country where you live

  3. Your CKD cat's name and age

You need to respond to this before your membership will be approved.

 

Please don't worry about saying "the right thing." This is not a test to see if you are "good enough" for the group, everybody is welcome here, whoever they are or wherever they come from, as long as they want to help their cat. This questionnaire is basically just to reassure us that you are a real person applying to join rather than somebody trying to sell stuff and spam the group, but it also enables us to tailor our responses to your group messages e.g. if we moderators know where you live, we will not suggest treatments not available there.

 

Please note, only the two Annes and I can see your responses to these questions. The group will not know anything about you unless you choose to introduce yourself.

 

Once you respond to the questionnaire, your membership application should be approved very quickly (most people are approved within two hours or less).

 

Occasionally the questionnaire goes missing. You think we haven't sent it, and we think you haven't responded! If we haven't heard from you five days after you apply to join, we will send you a reminder. Unfortunately, we can only use the address you've used to sign up for the group, so if you've accidentally used your new yahoo e-mail address without realising it (see above), you won't see either the questionnaire or our reminder. If you don't hear from us, please simply write to us at tanyas-ckd-support-owner@yahoogroups.com and let us know. Please respond to the three questions in your response and we will either approve you (if your membership is pending) or send you a personal invitation to join the group (if your membership application has disappeared into a black hole).

 


Messages                                                                                                                                          Back to Page Index


 

Message Options: Sending Messages


You don't have to post, you can just lurk if you prefer.

 

If you wish to change the name that appears on messages you send to the group, Yahoo! explains how you can do that.

 

Starting a Thread


  1. You can simply send an e-mail to ask your question by sending it to tanyas-ckd-support@yahoogroups.com.

  2. You can go to the group website, click on Post Message in the sidebar on the left, and then write your message there.

Replying to an Existing Message


Messages sent in response to another message on the group also go directly to the group, not to the individual to whom you are replying. Therefore if you wish to respond to a message somebody else has sent, you can simply click reply on your e-mail programme. If you reply via the group website, you can click on the message in the group archives, then click reply which is top left above the message.

 

If you're changing the subject, or replying to a Digest (which have the subject line of Digest No. xxx), please change the subject line appropriately to something more meaningful. And please remove everything except that to which you are replying.

 

If you wish to reply privately to somebody, you will need to press reply, then delete the group e-mail address and paste their personal e-mail address into the To: line if you are using e-mail. If you are replying via the group website, you will see a little envelope over on the right under the person's name. If you click on that, your message will go to that person.

 

Message Content


You are welcome to discuss anything relating to care of your CKD cat. We do have a few guidelines we ask people to follow though:

  1. Please do not refer to vets or vet clinics by name for legal reasons. Just say "my vet" or "Dr J".

  2. Please do not ask for money or other donations.

  3. Since this is a very busy group, we ask that condolences are sent privately to the bereaved group member. Certain other messages should also be sent privately e.g. short "me too" messages, off topic posts etc.

  4. Please trim your posts.

Moderation of Messages


When you first join the group, your messages will be moderated for a short while. This means that they will not reach the group immediately, but will first be read and approved by one of the moderators. We do this to ensure that:

  1. you are not a spammer;

  2. you are keeping to other group guidelines (e.g. not naming your vet publicly);

  3. you are trimming your messages appropriately.

If you comply with the group guidelines sent to you when you join the group, you will be taken off moderation quickly. The main reason people stay on moderation is because they do not trim their posts. So please read up on this in the group guidelines. If you get stuck, just ask for help.

 


Leaving the Group                                                                                                Back to Page Index


 

Some people decide to leave the group. Their cat may have died, or they may find the message volume is too much, or they simply decide it's not the place for them. Leaving is fine, but if you're thinking of leaving simply because you cannot cope with message volume, please consider changing your message options first, such as by going no mail. This means your inbox will not be full, but you can still reach out for support quickly when you need it.

 

If you are leaving because your cat has died, please consider joining our sister group, Tanya's Feline Loss Support:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-feline-loss/

 


Conclusion                                                                                                            Back to Page Index


I do hope you've decided to join Tanya's CKD Support Group! It can give you support, it can give you hope. It can make you smile too - where else would people share your thrill at hearing that your constipated cat has pooped? (Believe me, when you've been dealing with CKD for a while, things like this are real triumphs which can absolutely make your day).

 

I personally read every message sent to the group. I don't respond to every post (my priority is running this website) but I do keep an eye on things and post occasionally if I can add to what has already been said.

 


Group Quick Links                                                                                               Back to Page Index


Some of these only work if you are already a member of the group.

 

Weblinks


Group homepage:                                                 http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/

Managing your membership options:                  http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/join

Messages archive                                                 http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/tanyas-ckd-support/messages

 

E-mail Addresses


Sending a message to the group via e-mail:        tanyas-ckd-support@yahoogroups.com

Group owner e-mail address:                                 tanyas-ckd-support-owner@yahoogroups.com

Joining the group via e-mail:                                   tanyas-ckd-support-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Leaving the group via e-mail:                                  tanyas-ckd-support-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com