Managing feline Renal failure- Teddie’s story

renal failure

When your pet is diagnosed with a serious health condition it can be a shock and a worrying time.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed by deciding what tests to run, what type of treatments to use or how to manage costs of medication. 

To understand the impact a health condition can have, we asked a pet parent to share their experience. Here’s Teddie’s story: 

My cat Teddie was given to me as a Christmas present. The first thing I noticed as she popped her head out of the carrier was her beautiful big green eyes, and her big ears! She came from a rescue shelter, so it took her time to get used to me, but it wasn’t long before she became my shadow.

For 7 years she was a happy and healthy cat. But, a few months before her 8th birthday, I noticed something was wrong when she wasn’t eating her food and was being sick. I thought she was just being fussy (years of being spoilt) but then I noticed she was drinking a lot more and frequently going to the toilet. I knew this wasn’t a good sign, so I took her to the vets for a urine and blood test, to find out what was wrong.

When I received the news she had acute renal failure, I was in shock. My vet couldn’t be 100% sure what caused the sudden failure, but the most common reason for it is the ingestion of poisons or toxic plants.

Treatment for acute renal failure is  focussed on removing the circulating toxins as quickly as possible and restoring electrolyte balance. This is usually done by administering intravenous fluids for twenty-four hours, however because Teddie had a resistance to being handle by strangers and was extremely stressed, this wasn’t an option. So, I had to treat her in other ways.

I switched her food to a Renal diet, which contains less phosphorous and restricted amounts of high quality protein. Reduced phosphate content helps to protect the kidneys from further damage. Renal diets are also highly palatable which helps when your cat feels nauseous.

I gradually introduced both wet and dry food. She was used to a dry diet, so trying to get her used to wet food was a challenge. I first tried the Royal Canin Veterinary Renal Diet, which she liked for a while, but eventually decided it wasn’t for her. I then gave her Purina Veterinary Diet Renal Function, which was an instant winner! I also realised I would have to change the way I was feeding her, instead of two big meals a day, I fed her little and often throughout the day.

There are supplements available that can also help with some of the functions that the renal diets provide, such as phosphate binders, like Ipakitine. You can sprinkle the powder onto normal food. This was an option given to me by my vet if Teddie decided she didn’t want to eat the renal diet.

As well as changing her diet, it was important Teddie’s fluid intake was increased. Because Teddie wasn’t able to go to the veterinary clinic for IV fluids, my vet suggested I try administering subcutaneous fluids at home. Although it was less invasive, it still required a needle to be placed under her skin.  I felt nervous because I knew she would put up a fight!  To ensure I was feeling confident enough to do it, I watched plenty of video tutorials online on how to administer the fluid. It took several attempts and a lot of patience, but I eventually managed to give her some fluids, which prevented dehydration.

It’s now been 4 months since she was diagnosed, and she continues to respond well to treatment. As well as medication to help with her nausea, I make sure she gets as much fluid as possible. I’ve found adding Oralade RF Support Rehydration fluid to her food helps to replenish lost fluids and keeps her hydrated. It also tastes like chicken, so for a fussy eater like Teddie, it’s easy to hide!

Unfortunately I can’t reverse the damage that was done to Teddie’s kidneys, but with treatment and a lot of care and attention, I’m hopeful we can enjoy the time she has left.