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Chronic Renal Failure in Cats
There are many tiny structures called nephrons in the
kidneys of vertebrates that help them to cycle out wastes
from the blood stream and regulate the electrolytes in the
body. When nephrons begin to die, the regulation of
electrolytes and cleaning out of toxins isn't processed
effectively and this is what they call CRF or Chronic Renal
Essentially what happens is that the cat starts to be
poisoned by its own toxins, and imbalances of electrolytes
occur. This can lead to anemia and blood pressure issues as
the kidneys die.
The kidneys have five primary functions:
- Filtering waste from the body, primarily creatinine
- Regulation of electrolytes like calcium, phosphorus,
sodium and potassium
- Production of erythropoietin which stimulates the bone
marrow to produce more red blood cells
- Concentrating and producing urine
- Producing renin, an enzyme that controls blood pressure.
CRF must be diagnosed through clinical testing. There are
behaviors and symptoms that may indicate that you cat may
have Chronic Renal Failure and you should have your cat
tested if you observe these symptoms.
The most common signs that indicate that your cat may have
CRF are polydipsia (increased thirst), polyuria (increased
urination). As CRF worsens your cat may lose its appetite
and have vomiting, nausea, weight loss, emaciation and poor
A cat needs only thirty percent of kidney function for its
body to operate fairly normally. This means that if you
observe these symptoms and your cat has CRF it has already
lost more than seventy percent of its kidney function.
Obviously treatment must begin as soon as possible if these
symptoms are observed.
No cure has been found for CRF, but there are things that
can be done to extend your cats life for a period of time.
You and your veterinarian will need to control how much
waste product is being sent to the kidneys. This is done
through hydration therapy, diet and medication.