Feline Chronic Renal Failure

CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) or CRI (Chronic Renal Insufficiency)


Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) or Chronic Renal Insufficiency (CRI) is a progressive, irreversible deterioration of kidney function, usually occuring in older cats, that is difficult to detect until the disease has progressed to a state where dramatic symptoms become evident.

Accurate diagnosis of CRF can only be done through clinical testing, but there are some symptoms that can lead you to suspect CRF and therefore seek a professional diagnosis.  These include:  Nausea, drooling, vomiting, excessive urination, thirst, loss of appetite/weight, constipation, emaciation, poor coat, weakness, depression, halitosis (ammonia)).

It is also recommended that, after your cat reaches seven years of age, you do an annual check for CRF that includes a Complete Blood Count (CBC) to examine red and white blood cells, and a Blood Chemistry Test to check electrolytes, BUN, creatinine, cholesterol, glucose, liver enzymes, etc. These two tests, along with a urinalysis, will provide enough information for the vet to determine if your cat is in CRF. Early detection, proper diet, and hydration, can lead to a happy and active for quite some time, but a decline is, unfortunately, inevitable.

Common factors contributing to CRF are age, genetics, environment, and disease.  High blood pressure, low potassium levels, acidified diets, and dental disease are also possible contributors. Some breeds may have a higher rate of CRF.  These are the Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Siamese, Russian Blue, Burmese, and Balinese.

CRF management need to control the amount of waste products sent through the kidneys. For a list of treatments please visit http://www.felinecrf.com/manag0.htm

Research is being done to slow the progression of CRF with ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. These medications dilate the blood vessels thereby decreasing blood pressure while facilitating a non-damaging increase in blood flow that doesn’t tax the kidneys. The results so far have been encouraging, but the studies are not yet complete. Kidney transplantation and dialysis are also now possible.

A New Diagnostic Tool.  A urine test (E.R.D. HealthScreen Feline Urine Test) has been developed by Heska to detect the presence of microalbuminuria (small amounts of albumin) in feline urine and may provide an early diagnosis of kidney damage long before conventional BUN and Creatinine become elevated. For additional information, please visit Heska’s website at: http://www.heska.com

This article is based on information obtained from the Feline CRF Information Center at http://www.felinecrf.com/.  Please visit that site for a more in depth and thorough discussion of CRF.