A chronic and fairly common in the modern domestic cat, but fortunately, it’s avoidable, and if your cat develops the condition, there’s still hope.

Chronic Kidney Disease or just Kidney Disease is a condition in which the cat’s kidneys are no longer doing everything they should. Symptoms aren’t typically seen until the disease is already in effect, such as excessive urination and drinking lots of water. Because cats are descended from desert animals, they’re built to consume their moisture with their kill, not drink it, so they don’t have a real sense of being thirsty. When a cat drinks at all, it’s a lot of work, having to rely on the water that gets stuck to their tongue when they dip their tongue in the dish. By the time your cat is drinking what would be a “healthy amount” for a human, that’s what is referred to as “red lining” and is a serious warning sign for vets and people in the cat industry. Most commonly, this excessive thirst is a sign of kidney disease or kidney failure.

To help lower the chances of your kitty getting kidney disease, feed your cats as close to 100% canned and/or raw food as you can, ask for 3-year vaccines (instead of 1-year), and talk to your vet about discontinuing vaccination for your kitties over 10 years old. There’s really not a worthwhile amount of stuff that a cat can use in the dry food, and because the cat is having to use water to break down the food and pass it as stool, the cat gets gradually more and more dehydrated with every meal but not getting much to anything out of it, while the kidneys pay the cost. Over-vaccination has been studied lately with concern that vaccinating too often or vaccinating a cat with a potentially compromised immune system might cause more serious adverse problems, such as kidney disease and possibly even cancer. There’s also something to be said about only vaccinating cats for what they’re at risk for, making the list of necessary vaccines for an adult indoor-only cat very short. Even with all these, though, sometimes your cat might just be predisposed to the condition, and while an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it’s good to be aware of your kitty’s habits and anything out of the ordinary.

To help manage the disease, simply feed 100% raw foods, never any dry. Supplementing with canned food is alright, but the clean protein afforded by raw food will allow the cat to be easily satiated while not having to waste any organ power flushing out junk (stuff cats can’t use), and there are anecdotal studies in which some cats in kidney failure were able to buy back kidney function on raw food. Our three favorite brands for raw food are Rad Cat, Natural Pet Pantry, and Darwin’s because they’re pretty much all meat, just with added vitamins. Since all three brands are such clean protein, there won’t be much junk, if any, to put stress on the cat’s system, and uncooked meat is rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and enzymes that make the food super easy to digest.

In addition to these boons, getting her on a more natural diet, you’ll see her poop become less stinky, she’ll be happier because she won’t feel bogged down or dehydrated, and cats who are indoor only on a diet of canned and/or raw tend to live 19-22 years! Our hope is, by getting a kidney disease or kidney failure cat onto raw and canned, to stave off the disease to still try to reach the 19-year-mark. Our goal is to educate you in the ways of a cat, to help your kitty live the most happy life he can, and to help you and your kitty stay together as long as possible.

Disclaimer: In humans and dogs, there are studies that say that protein exacerbates kidney conditions, so there are some veterinarians who believe in low-protein diets for all animals. The key thing to remember is that humans and dogs are omnivores, while cats are obligate carnivores. Cats are built for just meat, just protein, and there are no studies that I was able to find that were specifically done on cats that proved that protein had any adverse affects on their kidneys, even finding a some that cited a possible improvement of kidney function with a high-protein diet. These and the aforementioned study where kidney function was improved in a group of cats on raw-only diets back-up the “Mother Nature Model” ideology that The Whole Cat believes in.