I CATCUR BY STEVE DALE
“I have no doubt that many cats
go undiagnosed and suffer without
their owners having any idea,” said
Dr. Kate Pietsch, a veterinarian in
Supporting her notion, the
Banfield survey demonstrated that
at least three in five cat owners
are unaware that diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and/or weight loss
can be associated with the illness.
What’s more, cats — who are
skilled at masking illness — don’t
exhibit symptoms until there is
very significant kidney damage.
In fact, because of limitations of
blood tests (and the urinalysis)
used to diagnose CKD – detection doesn’t occur until about
75 percent of kidney function is
It’s always been hoped that CKD
A new sensitive test, called
symmetric dimethylarginine or
SDMA — is offered with the IDEXX
regular blood chemistry panel.
SDMA determines kidney disease
much sooner in its progression,
when there is only about a 40 percent loss of function.
“A cat can live a completely
normal life with about 50 percent
of kidney function,” Dr. Pietsch said.
“We believe these cats still feel
great, while that’s not the case for
cats diagnosed with a 75 percent
loss of function.”
Dr. Pietsch is among the legion
of veterinarians who call the test
a “game changer.” But now what?
After all, there’s no magic pill
that stops kidney disease in its
tracks. The Winn Feline
Foundation is funding
studies to better under-
stand if stem cell therapy can help,
and some researchers are attempt-
ing to determine exactly why so
many older cats get the disease in
the first place. But those answers
aren’t coming tomorrow.
So, in the meantime, how do
veterinarians treat this early diagnosis? They are attempting to figure this out.
Finding kidney disease early
in cats is like diagnosing high
blood pressure or high cholesterol in people. Doctors know of
the irregularity and hope to see
patients more frequently to track
any changes as well as suggest
lifestyle changes. The same holds
true for when CKD is found in
cats. For example, when the SDMA
test indicates kidney changes,
Pietch said, “Encourage cats to stay
hydrated; encouraging more water
can do no harm. Some cats like
If you have an aging cat, odds are pretty good — about one in three — that your cat might one day suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD). According to the Banfield Pet Hospital’s annual reports (which can be found on banfield.com), the disease in cats is on the rise, increasing 15
percent from 2007 to 2011. And in 2014, one in every 10 geriatric cats ( 10 years
or older) had kidney disease.
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