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Kidney Disease in Older Cats

When your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease, degeneration, or failure, you will be advised to change your cat’s diet to prolong the life of his/her kidneys by minimizing the stress put upon them. We lessen the kidneys’ workload by decreasing the amount of protein in the diet, while being careful not to compromise the quality of the protein. Thus, while your cat should eat less protein, the protein you select should be very digestible and should contain a broad range of amino acids, such as eggs. To counteract the weight loss that often accompanies kidney degeneration, increased carbohydrates (starches such as bread, pasta, or cereal) should be offered. To boost the aging body’s ability to carry out its functions, a vitamin supplement for geriatric cats is very helpful.

Unfortunately, while low protein diets, such as the veterinary prescription diet K/D from Hills may be excellent for your cat, many cats tell you in no uncertain terms that they would rather starve than eat it. The following list offers suggestions for you to try with your own cat if a low protein diet is prescribed.

1. K/D diet (canned or dry), either fed alone or mixed with a canned food your cat accepts– at least try mixing it with a “senior” canned food.

2. Spaghetti with butter or a bland tomato sauce.

3. Macaroni with cheese sprinkled on top.

4. Noodles mashed with a meat-flavored baby food (avoid ones flavored with onion powder which causes red blood cell destruction in some cats).

5. Scrambled eggs or mashed hard boiled eggs, NEVER raw (Salmonella risk)!

6. Cereals, either cooked (oatmeal, cream of wheat), or dry (avoid the “Count Chocula” varieties, but cheerios or corn flakes are fine).

7. Vitamin supplements for proper mineral balance.

The “bottom line” on dietary modification in cats is that a therapeutic diet is of no benefit if your cat hates it and if feeding your kitty becomes an exercise in frustration and distress for both of you. You may decide that you would both prefer a happier, if shorter, relationship at the end of your cat’s life, and that quality of life is more important than longevity with a strained and frustrated existence. No one enjoys watching their hungry cat refuse to eat.

Good luck !