Holistic Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

holistic treatment of chronic kidney disease in cats boulder holistic vet angie krause

Many older kitties suffer from CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease). While this disease is progressive, there is a lot we can do to help these kitties live longer and happier.

Below is my holistic approach to CKD in cats:

  • Diagnostics. When your cat reaches 7-8 years of age starting monitoring blood work regularly. Be sure your veterinarian is checking your kitty’s thyroid and kidney function. Click here for cheat sheet of laboratory values that we monitor for kidney function. If your kitty’s lab work indicates any signs of kidney disease, begin monitoring every 3-6 months.
  • Diet. Water is key here. Cats are notorious for poor water drinking! The more moisture you can put in your cat’s diet the better. Generally, a raw or canned diet will have the most moisture. Avoid dry food at all cost.

Protein content is a major source of debate between allopathic and integrative veterinarians. The idea behind protein restriction is that you stress the kidneys less and build up less toxins in the bloodstream. While this may be true, cats as a whole are much healthier on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. For this reason, many integrative veterinarians recommend normal amounts of protein in the interest of the whole cat, not just kidney function.

I see both sides, and generally give my clients the option to feed either. For my cat, Sammy, I continue to feed a high protein diet.

Supplements. Let me start by saying, many cats won’t take any supplements. So, I have listed in order of importance the ones I recommend:

Water. Like I mentioned earlier, cats are poor water consumers. Unfortunately, water is exactly what they need when their kidneys are failing. Using a water fountain, adding water to their food or flavoring the water with sardines are all great ways to help your kitty stay hydrated.

When kidney disease advances, subcutaneous fluids are needed to help your kitty stay hydrated and to flush toxins out of his/her blood. Generally, subcutaneous fluids can be given at home from twice weekly, to every day. Your veterinarian can help you decide when adding this therapy is appropriate for your kitty.

Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture and herbal therapy can be helpful in slowing down the progression of kidney disease. To find a veterinarian that practices Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, check out IVAS or The Chi Institute.

As always, work with your veterinarian to make the best plan for your kitty. I would love to help you in any way I can. You can leave a comment below.

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29 thoughts on “Holistic Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats”

  1. Dr. Krause, I adopted an older kitty a few years ago with numerous health issues. I switched him from dry kibble to 100% raw diet and all outwardly obvious issues disappeared. He is now 19 years old and going strong. Now, if I can just convince him to eat the fermented blueberries! 🙂

  2. Dr Krause, my kitty is very weak, only drinking water at this point and has been diagnosed with CKF. He won’t eat anything including the low protein food the vet suggested. I see that putting water subcutaneously will help get rid of the toxins so he might want to eat. Is there anything I can put into that water to boost his protein intake and help him get supplements? And if so, what can I give him? Thankyou. Judy

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Judy,

      I am so sorry to hear about your kitty. My oldest kitty has CKD too. I use HempRx to increase appetite and have found it to be more effective compared with other pharmaceuticals. You should talk with your vet about controlling your kitty’s nausea as well. Cerenia is a really great choice for kitties as well as controlling phosphorus levels. Subcutaneous fluids alone can be very beneficial. Let me know how it goes.

      Sending hugs to you both!
      Angie

      1. Hi Dr. Angie! What dose of HempRx? Is this the same company ‘Rx Vitamins’? I’d love to give my CKD boy a boost for his appetite as well. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Hi Dr. Kraus,

    Thank you for sharing your info here. I have a 16 year old cat that has chronic kidney failure. It was diagnosed 4 months ago. His creatinine went down to 4.5 from 5.3 after a month of fluids, but is back up again. He is still eating well, but cries a lot. I only have access to traditional vets (that are wonderful!) where I am living, but want to treat him holistically. He is on a raw diet (for 7+ years) that has been tweaked with the help of a wonderful cat nutritionist for his condition. Is there realistically anything that I can do to help lower his creatinine levels and reverse the progression of the disease? It is heartbreaking to see…

    Laura

    1. Dear Dr and Laura:

      My ex-wife has my former cat. My ex is an exceptional researcher and does a great deal of research into the cat which is now 20 years old and has kidney disease. Once a year or so, I inherit the cat while my ex goes on vacation ( I do right now) and I notice that the cat has been gaining weight lately. My ex gives the cat Slippery Elm to help the cat with its food. She also gives the cat Famotidine and restoralax for constipation. I notice that the cat has been gaining weight which I thought was especially difficult when suffering from kidney disease.

      The vets to whom she’s taken the cat think that this cat is a medical miracle as she’s had kidney disease for several years now.

      Of course she pees constantly but she also has bowel movements 5 times a week or so so we’re always changing its litter. The cat is especially social and always wants to be around people. She has a harder time cleaning herself so either my ex or now, I, am always cleaning its fur and so on

    2. I am curious about your cat crying. My cat has CKF and he cries out, I thought he was just cat wallowing but I am not sure. He seems to do it after eating a meal. How about your cat?
      Thanks. Deb

      1. Hi Deb!

        Oh how I wish we could understand what our cats are trying to say! Does your guy only cry after eating or at other times too? Cats are known to become vocal for many reasons including thyroid disease, hypertension, dementia, and physical pain to name a few. Has your veterinarian evaluated your kitty to rule out medical causes for him to cry out?

        Keep us posted!

        Warmly,
        Jacquie

  4. Christina Chain

    I administer SubQ fluids twice weekly as part of my kitty’s plan. He is getting so thing that it’s hard to get the needle under the skin and not poke anything else. Do you have any tips on technique or alternate placement? I could use any advice.

  5. sabine dowlati

    Hi Dr. Krause!
    I inherited an old barn cat when I bought a horse farm in TN. 5 years later, one dog/coyote attack later, Beezus is still with us. She now lives in the house and lately I noticed changes hinting at renal failure. She has great appetite but the drinking was not so up to par. Your suggestion of adding some sardine to water was screaming in joy success. I will take her to a holistic vet next week to get a definitiv diagnosis. In the meantime, many many thanks for help getting extra water into this little loving fighter.

    Sincerely,
    Bina

  6. My kitty is 7 , she’s hanging at the water bowl a little too much to suit me,… I’m sure she’s nauseous, cause she’s eating a lot of grass too.

  7. I THINK MY SOPH HAS BEEN HEALTHIER WITH CKD LONGER DUE TO MASSAGES AND SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH HER. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE INFO, WILL BEGIN UTILIZING WHAT WORKS FOR US SOON! JOANNA

  8. Hello, My cat has been diagnosed with early Kidney failure and is now on a prescribed kidney diet. She is responding well to the canned food, in fact she eats more of it than she did of the prior store bought cans. She was also given a phosphorous binding powder 1/8 teaspoon per day to be added to her food.

    Are there additional holistic supplements/treats I should be giving to her as well?

    I looked up the RX Renal as mentioned in the article above – I believe she is on the Phos-Bind by that same company. Should I ask my Vet about RX Renal or is Phos-Bind sufficient?

    Thanks in advance for your time and response.

  9. Hi, Dr. Krause: My cat, Pippin, was recently diagnosed with CKD. My question is two fold. First, what do you feed your cat? I’m a fan of the 40% protein as my dog who had kidney disease just basically wasted away. How would I find cat food that is higher in protein but lower in phosphorus? Secondly, I have two other healthy cats. It’s a challenge to monitor food intake especially overnight. Would the lower phosphorous food have a detrimental effect on my healthy cats if they happen to eat it? Thank you!

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Meghan,

      These are great questions.

      All cats can eat a lower phosphorus diet to a certain extent, so that should’t be a problem!

      One diet that you could consider is the Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet specifically for helping support healthy kidney function. Their version doesn’t restrict protein as much as the other Rx foods available, but still limits phosphorus content. Here is their kidney diet.

      I hope that this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  10. What do you mean by “high doses” of the Nordic naturals fish oil? I have a kitty who was diagnosed with and underwent surgery for a hemangiosarcoma originating in his spleen that had spread to his kidneys in June of last year. He responded very well to natural treatment for the cancer, but he is peeing more and more. He drinks an adequate amount of water and is not dehydrated at all. I’ve been giving him 4 drops of the Nordic naturals fish oil twice per day.

    He is a very picky eater. He will only eat the fish formulas of fancy feast, and once in awhile he will eat some organic raw buffalo burger.Thanks

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Leslie,

      This is a great question! Because we don’t know your kitty, it’s probably best to check in with his veterinarian regarding a good dose specifically for him.

      Keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  11. Hi, I hope you are still answering questions on this blog. My kitty has arthritis and I bought her Jump for Joynts by Adored Beast homeopathic remedy. Before we’d had a chance to start it, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Kidney Failure. Is this remedy okay for her with the kidney diagnosis? She’s also on buprenorphine.

    Jump for Joynts Ingredients: Homeopathic preparation of Calendula (30C), Ruta Grav (200C), Symphytum (1M), and Arnica (1M)
    Inactive Ingredients: Water, 13% alcohol preparation
    Dispensed by pump: 4 pumps = 0.5ml

    Thanks!

  12. Hi Dr. Angie , I have an 11 yr old Russian Blue that was just diagnosed with early kidney disease. I am buying the Ultra EFA , RX Renal and the RX Biotic . He and his 3 sisters have 2 water fountains that they have had since they were kittens and are good water drinkers. My problem is he will not eat wet food of any kind nor meat or fish. He only eats kibble , veggies and cantaloupe. He won’t even eat cat treats , I buy him carrots for treats. I’ve tried putting water in the dry food and he wouldn’t touch it so I had to stop doing that because he wasn’t eating at all. I am at a loss as to how I can get more moisture in his diet. He is a very good water drinker though

  13. Hi. I’ve been having someone telling me to give my cat Braggs apple cider vinegar – 1 drop a day with water for his kidney failure. Everything I read says that’s not a good idea. The reason he believes in it is they sent his kitty home on her death bed and gave it a try and she is doing so much better now her numbers have improved and all. What’s your thoughts.

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