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Ask the Vet: Why is kidney disease so dang common in 🐈s?

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Ask the Vet: Why is kidney disease so dang common in 🐈s?

Chris Simmons, Veterinarian

Special promotional content provided by Simmons Veterinary Clinic

By Chris Simmons, veterinarian

Hi y’all 👋 It’s been a few months since I’ve answered your burning questions, but I’m excited to get back at it! Before diving in, I want to let you know that Simmons Vet just added an excellent veterinarian to the team. Joining me is Dr. Teresa, a native of Central Mississippi with a passion for medicine, surgery, and a great book 🙂 Come book an appointment to meet her and our team!

For those new to this segment, I’m a veterinarian and the owner of Simmons Veterinary Clinic, a recent business school graduate, and a fellow Decaturite. Given the emerging and escalating Great Veterinary Shortage, some pet parents have found it harder than ever to ask questions, let alone get answers from their veterinarian. While this column certainly can’t replace that relationship, I’ll do my best to address some of your questions, ranging from the most pressing to the silly. And hopefully have some fun along the way! 

On to the Questions! 

Q. Why is kidney disease so common among older, well-cared-for cats, and what can be done to prevent it? We give our cats the best food, but kidney disease still shows up. – Jim K.

This is a great question, Jim. Chronic kidney disease in cats is all-too-common, frustrating, and deflating for pet parents as it progresses over time. And sadly, there is not yet an answer as to why this occurs. I really gave this a thorough deep dive and couldn’t find any credible evidence to report.

That said, there are some interesting theories floating around. But please note that these are merely theories 🤔

The first overly simplistic theory is that cats live longer than dogs. And kidneys degenerate over time. So more time ➡ ️ more degeneration ➡ ️ more cats with kidney disease. 

Another far more fun idea stems from the cat’s evolutionary history as a desert predator who obtained water from the prey they ate. According to this theory, cats don’t have a strong innate drive for thirst. So, they are prone to dehydration, which eventually leads to chronic damage to the kidneys. Fascinating (even if it’s entirely theoretical)!

So what does it all mean? 

1. We don’t yet know why cats are prone to kidney disease

2. Hydration may be a key in mitigating the onset of clinical kidney disease

3. Diet probably doesn’t matter too much, but offering wet food as a component is sensible

4. Having several hydration options (bowls or even entertaining water fountains) is worthwhile to improve thirst drive

Q. I have a fat cat and a not-fat cat and trying to put the fat one on a diet is making me crazy. Any tips? Ashley H.

Very common scenario here, Ashley! The love language of a fat cat is food, and it can be stressful taking that away 😣 Fortunately, I have a few things you can try 🙂

If your cats are microchipped, the first thing I’d do is get a microchip feeding system such as this one from Sure Petcare. These awesome devices allow you to preset the amount of food that you can offer for each individual cat. And it ensures that each cat gets the correct food amount/type as there is a protective sliding glass case that will only open for the cat with the appropriately programmed microchip. 

From a diet perspective, you may want to ask your veterinarian about a prescription weight management “satiety” diet such as this one from Royal Canin. These diets are specifically formulated to help overweight cats lose weight and reduce their begging behavior by keeping them satisfied between meals with high natural fiber levels. 

And if that chunky kitten is still driving you nuts on a diet, I’d toss the kibble around as treats every once in a while to quiet the chorus of yowling meows!

In summary, here are my tips to converting a fat cat to a not-fat cat: 

1. Portion control and automation are the keys to success 🤖

2. Satiety diets can help by reducing caloric intake while “filling” their tummies 😋

3. Small calorie kibble treats tossed around between meals can reduce the amount of begging 🐈

4. A steely resolve throughout is needed because it can be stressful 😐

Q. If a cat catches a mouse in the house, at night when we are asleep, is it safe for them to eat it? I awoke to find a mouse head, but never found the mouse body, so I assume the cat ate it. So what if the mouse had eaten some poison from a mouse bait somewhere. Would that harm the cat if it ate the mouse? – Pamela G.

Yikes, that’s gross Pamela! But also a pertinent question! As mentioned above, cats are natural born hunters. So, this situation is potentially unavoidable.

Fortunately, the ingestion of a mouse is generally considered safe with the most common risk being the transmission of an intestinal parasite. If you notice an uptick of vomiting or diarrhea, I’d recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to do a parasite screen and/or treat with an anti-parasitic medication.

The potential for rodenticide toxicity does absolutely exist though. And there are several different types of rodenticide poison.  Each works differently and all of them are dangerous!

So, if you’re using a pest control service, I’d contact them to inquire what type of rodenticide they use. That way, if your cat gets a hold of a mouse, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately to determine if you should go straight to the veterinary ER.

Alright Rapid 🔥 Questions

Q. Holiday costumes: good fun or bad practice? – Brook B.

Definitely good fun! But also potentially bad practice if it makes your doggo/cat feel depressed or scared. If nothing else, they make for excellent pics 🎃

Q. What are your favorite heartworm and/or flea/tick prevention meds? Thank you! – Diana C.

For dogs, my favorites are Simparica Trio and Nexgard Plus. Palatable and covers for fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and heartworms!

For cats, I like Feline Bravecto Plus and Revolution Plus. Bravecto Plus takes the slight edge as the volume of administration is slightly less and it lasts for 2 months.  

Q. Why do dogs like to eat poop? So many of them do! – Allison H.

Ha, coprophagia 💩 So 1) eww! And 2) there isn’t one known reason for this. Could be due to anything ranging from puppy curiosity ➡ instinctual nutritional supplementation ➡ endocrine disorders that cause excessive hunger ➡ behavioral stress and boredom 🤷

That’s it for today! Keep a look out next month to ask me more questions!

And remember you can book an appointment to come see us at Simmons Vet. We’ve got readily available appointment slots and a kind team ready to help you and your furry family members 🙂

— Dr. Chris