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Important Information About Kidney Disease in Cats

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Why Kidney Disease is a Killer in Cats…But Doesn't Have to Be

Most people recognize cancer as the silent killer of cats, but did you also know kidney disease can take your cat's life unexpectedly? In fact, according to the Morris Animal Foundation, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the number one killer of cats in the U.S. To better prepare and protect your cat from this horrible affliction, read on and learn a bit more about how kidney disease affects cats.

1. Kidneys are Vital
According to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, your cat's kidneys "act as a complex filter that removes from blood wastes that are generated from break down of food, old cells, toxins or poisons and many drugs that are given for treatment of other diseases." Your cat's two kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and calcium and vitamin D metabolism, as well as produce a substance that helps with the creation of new red blood cells. Due to the various functions of the kidneys, a cat with kidney disease may display a multitude of signs. However, these signs may not become apparent as quickly as you'd imagine.

2. Visible Kidney Disease Signs May Take Time
Kidneys are made up of microscopic nephrons. As your cat ages or if the kidneys become damaged, some nephrons begin to die and other reserve (or "resting") nephrons take over. Once there are no extra nephrons remaining, your cat may begin to display signs of kidney damage such as loss of appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, and anemia. However, this often only occurs once 75% of kidney function (2/3 of nephrons) has been lost. This is why it is so important that you bring your cat to your veterinarian at least once a year and remain vigilant for unusual signs in your cat's behavior. It may help prevent your cat from developing kidney disease in the first place.

For the complete slideshow on 4 Must-Know Facts About Kidney Disease in Cats, visit petMD.