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A diet to help protect cats aginst kidney disease

Our customer asked:

We have two indoor cats: one 10 yrs and one 6 yrs. i'm curious to know
whether they should be on a diet geared around their renal health? our
previous cat died of renal failure and i understand it's a common problem
so wanted to find out whether there is any pre-emptive action we can take.
if there are products that you can recommend, all to the good!

Our reply:

Unfortunately there is no "renal protective" food or supplement which can be given at this stage. The renal diets and medications tend to help cats cope with reduced renal function and some of the secondary changes which occur in the disease, but they do not help healthy kidneys. If your cats currently appear well in all respects, then the best you can do is give them a good general diet. Including some food which works their teeth is a good idea. (Dirty teeth and resultant chronic gum disease is regarded as one of the causes of age-related renal failure in cats.) Hills t/d for cats is good, and any of the dried meat or fish treats which have to be chewed up are really helpful. In fact the most useful ones are often then top quality dog treats, because they require more actual chewing. (We tend to give cats foods which do not require chewing and wonder why their teeth get dirty! Crunchy biscuits with cereal in them are surprisingly poor generally because they shatter on pressure and produce crumbs which mix with saliva and leave a thin layer of food paste on the teeth afterwards. This gradually minerlises in time and produces the thick calculus which so many older cats build up on their back teeth. I would recommend the pure, freeze dried meat found in Thrive ProReward Treats, or similar products. One or two of these every day are great for cats' teeth.

Other than that, I would suggest a good proportion of moist food rather than just dried food. Cats on purely dried diets are probably very slightly less hydrated than cats on moist diets, for all of their lives. Cats do drink to make up for the lack of moisture in  the food, but they are not very good at this and it is not what they are evolved to do. Providing water in several different locations, well away from normal feeding areas, will encourage cats to take a sip of water periodically. A glass or ceramic dish on a windowsill works well. (Ponds and puddles are often strangely attractive too, if they are around.)

The only other thing would be a periodic blood and urine test perhaps, to look for early signs of renal trouble. Then the specific renal diets would help, plus the herbal treatment Rubenal. I don't think they would do anything at all at this stage though.

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Friday 15th February 2013

Friday 15th February 2013