A Diagnosis of Kidney Insufficiency
Whether you hear the words the day that your furry love leaves this earth or several years before that happens, it can be frightening and draining. Vets call it many things: “kidney insufficiency”, “kidney failure”, “bad kidneys”, or worse, refer to your baby as a “kidney cat”. As a mom, not a veterinarian (I’m not one, nor even a vet tech), I’ve been through this several times. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Any vet who insists that your kitty eat dry kibble “kidney” food is doing so because the company that markets said “special” food is the one bankrolling vet schools. It’s not about the health of your pet. Dry food is difficult enough for a kitty to process without the added stress of poorly functioning kidneys. Besides, that prescription diet contains cellulose. Sawdust. Not good for kidneys. Not good to ingest, unless you’re a termite. Moist food is best.
2. Pets need lots of water when their kidneys are failing. It can be difficult to entice some cats to drink unless the water is moving. Invest in a decent kitty fountain, that plugs in and has constantly moving water. You have to take them apart and clean them, so it’s more complicated than putting a dish in the dishwasher, but oh so worth it! Get one that’s ceramic or stainless steel. You can buy them on www.amazon.com or www.petco.com or lots of other places.
3. Don’t immediately consider failing kidneys to be a death sentence. Cats especially may live for years after such a diagnosis. A diagnosis is different than a prognosis. The insufficiency may be so small as to not even shorten their life span from what it would optimally be.
4. Personally, I’ve never gone to heroics to keep an animal alive whose kidneys are in the final stages of failure (do a Google search to see what those stages are), ie hooked up to life support, appetite-inducing drugs, etc. and don’t plan to, but I’ve known of others who have. That’s a parental choice that no one else can make.
5. Kidney transplants ARE possible — I read of one vet who had that done for his kitty — but they’re still quite rare and very costly. Research if you like.
6. Some vets “diagnose” kidney disease/failure through smell. They sniff your cat/dog and smell the kidneys failing. They’re not messing with you; this is fairly common. Of course it doesn’t replace standard testing, but they’re not crazy.
7. As with any other potentially fatal condition, I wouldn’t allow an animal with failing kidneys to be vaccinated. Vaccines can be toxic enough to a healthy animal, let alone an ailing one. If your pet is required to have them by the city/county/whatever, get a waiver from your vet.
8. The best way to get urine, and its smell, out of fabrics and surfaces is white vinegar. Keep it around at all times. Fill a spray bottle with water to that little line, then add vinegar to the top. It’s nontoxic and it works.
9. Take this condition as another excuse to spoil the hell out of your pet, as if you needed an excuse. Give them their favorite treats, food, tons of love, toys, play time, whatever. Do it now!
10. Use this situation as an opportunity to learn more about your own kidneys. So much we need to know is learned through our pets. It’s among their gifts to us.
I hope this helps anyone and everyone who is going through this. Please remember I’m not a vet, nor do I even play one on TV, so take what interests you and ignore the rest.