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Managing Chronic Kidney Disease in Senior Cats: The Importance of Diet

Increased Awareness of Health Issues in Senior Cats

As cats age, their health needs change. Older cats may need more attention and care than younger cats.

One of the most common health issues in senior cats is chronic kidney disease (CKD). According to the International Renal Interest Society, about 30% of cats over the age of 10 years have CKD.

If left untreated, CKD can lead to serious health complications in cats. However, with early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and diet, CKD can be managed effectively.

Importance of Early Treatment and Diet in Management of CKD

Early diagnosis and treatment of CKD is critical for successful management of the disease. As the disease progresses over time, the kidneys gradually lose their ability to function correctly.

Therefore, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of slowing the progression of the disease. The two primary treatments for CKD are medication and diet management.

Medication helps to control the cat’s blood pressure and regulate their electrolyte levels. Diet management, on the other hand, helps to reduce the workload on the kidneys, preventing further damage.

Nutritional Needs of Cats with CKD

A cat’s diet plays a crucial role in managing CKD. The primary goal of diet management for cats with CKD is to reduce the amount of phosphorus and protein in their diet.

Phosphorous is an essential dietary component and is found in significant amounts in most cat food brands. However, too much phosphorus can be detrimental to cats with CKD.

High levels of phosphorous can worsen kidney damage by reducing the filtration rate of the kidneys. Therefore, it is essential to feed cats with CKD a diet that is phosphorus-restricted.

Cats with CKD also need a diet that has a reduced amount of protein. While protein is necessary for good health, consuming too much protein can be deleterious to cats with CKD.

Excess protein in the diet can increase the workload on the kidneys, making it harder for them to function correctly. Therefore, it is crucial to feed cats with CKD canned diets with lower protein levels.

Phosphorous Restriction in Cats with CKD

Phosphorus restriction is one of the primary dietary measures for managing CKD in cats. To minimize the level of phosphorus in a cat’s diet, you need to look at the ingredient list on the cat food label.

Cat food brands that have a moderately restricted amount of phosphorus are the most appropriate for cats with CKD. These cat foods have a maximum of 1% of phosphorus on a dry matter basis.

They also have controlled protein levels that are usually lower than those present in regular cat food formulations. Cat food brands that have lowered amounts of phosphorus can help to reduce the progression of the disease.

In some cases, veterinarians may recommend medications that lower phosphorous levels in cats with CKD. These medications bind with dietary phosphorous, preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

However, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian before administering any medication.

Protein Level in Diet

Cats need high-quality protein in their diet to maintain optimal health. However, cats with CKD require a reduced amount of protein in their diet.

Lower protein levels in cat foods help to reduce the workload on the kidneys while still maintaining adequate nutrition. Cats with CKD should be fed a diet that has quality protein sources.

These sources include ingredients like chicken, turkey, and lamb, which are easily digestible. Foods that contain animal protein from organs, bones, and by-products should be avoided as they are hard to digest and contain little protein.

Furthermore, it is essential to maintain a cat’s energy level while still reducing protein levels in their diet. This can be done by adding more fats and carbohydrates to their food.

Such food formulations supply cats with the daily energy they require while preventing protein overload to the kidneys.


In conclusion, CKD in cats is a prevalent disease in senior cats. However, early diagnosis, treatment, and appropriate diet management can help to slow down the progression of the disease.

Phosphorous restriction and controlling protein levels in cat foodare crucial elements in the diet management of cats with CKD. Consult your veterinarian to create a customized diet plan for your cat that best suits their needs.

Choosing the Right Diet for Cats with CKD

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common condition in senior cats, affecting about 30% of cats over the age of ten. Once diagnosed, it is crucial to work with a veterinarian to create a customized treatment plan that includes the right diet for your cat.

The primary goals of this treatment plan should be to slow the progression of CKD, maintain your cat’s weight, and prevent dehydration. This article will provide an in-depth look at some crucial considerations when choosing the right diet for cats with CKD.

Canned Diets vs Dry Formulations

Cats with CKD require a diet that is lower in protein and phosphorus, and high in moisture content. Canned diets are often an excellent choice for cats with CKD as they have a higher moisture content.

Therefore, canned diets can help maintain your cat’s hydration level, which is essential in preventing dehydration, a common problem in cats with CKD. Dry formulations, on the other hand, are more convenient for pet owners, easier to store, and often less expensive than canned diets.

However, they typically have a lower moisture content, leading to dehydration. Dehydration is dangerous for cats with CKD, and it can lead to further kidney damage.

Therefore, it is essential to consider the moisture content and dehydration risk when choosing the right diet for your cat.

Caloric Content

Cats with CKD require a moderate amount of calories to maintain their energy levels while avoiding weight loss. Weight loss can be a problem in cats with CKD, as it may indicate loss of muscle mass, which can damage the kidneys further.

Therefore, it is essential to consider the caloric content of your cat’s diet when choosing the right diet. Your veterinarian may recommend subcutaneous fluid administration to support hydration and prevent dehydration.

Subcutaneous fluid administration provides fluids under the skin, helping cats with CKD maintain hydration levels. Your cat’s caloric needs may fluctuate depending on their subcutaneous fluid administration.

This is why working with your veterinarian while choosing a diet, and monitoring your cat’s weight is critical in maintaining their energy level.

Nutritional Assessment

It is crucial to recheck your cat’s nutritional plan periodically and assess your cat’s dietary needs. The routine assessment and monitoring of a cat’s dietary plan can help determine if changes to the diet are necessary.

Your veterinarian can provide lab work for nutritional assessment, which can include blood work, urinalysis, or additional testing. These test results can help determine your cat’s overall health status, nutritional state, or if any adjustments are necessary.

Physical exams are also necessary to monitor your cat’s health status over time. Regular exams provide veterinarians with vital information that can help detect changes in your cat’s health.

Changes in behavior, such as less grooming, hiding, or a loss of appetite, can indicate a change in your cat’s nutritional or physical state. Regular examinations and monitoring can help detect changes quickly.

Change in Diet

There may be situations where changing your cat’s diet is necessary even with careful monitoring. A change of diet may occur because your cat’s nutritional needs have changed.

Additionally, your cat’s preferences or medical conditions could change. When opting to change your cat’s diet, it is essential to do it gradually.

A sudden change in your cat’s diet could lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, or vomiting. Steadily integrating new food into your cat’s diet is advisable, starting with small amounts mixed with the current diet and gradually increasing the percentage of new food.

Furthermore, monitoring your cat’s weigh and overall health status can determine if the new diet is suitable for them.


Choosing the right diet for cats with CKD is an essential part of maintaining your cat’s health and wellbeing. Considering the moisture content, caloric intake, and nutritional assessment is crucial when selecting a diet suitable for your cat.

Regular monitoring and assessments of your cat’s health status can determine if any adjustments to their dietary plan are necessary. Additionally, changing your cat’s diet should be done gradually to prevent stomach upset or vomiting.

Consulting with your veterinarian and monitoring your cat’s overall health can lead to a successful outcome and slow the progression of CKD. In conclusion, choosing the right diet for cats with CKD is crucial in maintaining their health and wellbeing.

Canned diets with higher moisture content, monitoring caloric intake, and regular nutritional assessments are key factors to consider when selecting a diet. Regular monitoring through physical exams, lab work, and regular assessments can provide vital information on any necessary dietary changes.

Staying attuned to changes in behavior and preferences in food can also provide crucial insights. Consulting with your veterinarian ensures your cat’s dietary needs are met, helping to improve their overall quality of life.

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