Symptoms of CRF
CRF can only be accurately diagnosed with clinical tests. There are some symptoms and behaviors that indicate the likelihood of CRF and, if these are observed, the cat should be tested as soon as possible.
The most telling signs are increased thirst (polydipsia) and excessive urination (polyuria). As the condition progresses, your cat may experience loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, poor hair coat and emaciation. Only 30% of kidney capacity is needed for normal functioning. Therefore, no symptoms will be seen until approximately 70% of renal function is lost. It is important to begin treatment as soon as the first symptoms appear.
Even with diet control, drugs and fluid therapy, you will eventually see at least some of the symptoms on the following list. Not all cats will exhibit all symptoms.
- Excessive urination
- Increased thirst
- Nausea and gagging
- Licking lips
- Grinding or cracking sound in jaw
- Vomiting (both clear/foamy liquid and food)
- Hunching over the water bowl
- Stomach irritation (uremic gastritis)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle wasting
- Poor hair coat
- Halitosis (ammonia smell)
- Sensitivity to sound
- Eating litter
- Oral ulcers
- Detached retinae
- Convulsion, low temperature, coma (end-stage)
I've been dealing with CRF now for 4 years....I know Winton will eventually die and it sucks but I've been trying to make his life as wonderful as possible! As of today, Winton has high blood pressure-which is a common symptom of CRF. he takes medication twice a day for his high blood pressure as well as eating Hills K/D both canned and dry! He loves it thank goodness! I went thru a period of time when I was attepting to feed him raw food but honestly it was very expensive so now I occasionally give him a raw patty.
TreatmentThere is no cure for CRF but the condition may be managed for a time. The cornerstone of CRF management is to control the amount of waste products that are sent through the kidneys. Since the remaining nephrons are limited in their ability to process waste, the idea is to reduce the amount of waste to a level that the nephrons can accommodate. This is done through a combination of diet, medication, and hydration therapy (diuresis).
CRF is a terminal disease. The only questions are how long and how well the patient will live until the end. With proper treatment, the cat may have from months to years of relatively high-quality life. As the cat's caregiver(s), it is up to you to determine when the quality of life has decreased to a point at which prolonging life no longer has value.
As CRF progresses and toxin levels rise, cats become more uncomfortable with an overall sensation of feeling unwell. Human patients with a similar condition don't report "pain" but describe their condition as feeling poorly. Dehydration, in particular, can make the patient very uncomfortable. Aggressively treating CRF, especially with subcutaneous fluid therapy, should not be thought of as "prolonging the agony" as there is no significant pain associated with kidney failure until the end-stage. Even then, unless the patient convulses, the chief symptoms will be malaise, weakness, nausea and discomfort.