Is it possible for a cat w/ kidney failure to become suddenly better or could have been mis-diagnosed?

I have a wonderful 15-year-old neutered male orange tabby named Sunshine. I love him so much. He is an indoor/outdoor cat but prefers to be outside. I noticed that he suddenly became quite thin in the spring. Our vet did a urine test and told me that he has kidney failure and the best treatment was to feed him KD food. He hated the KD food and wouldn’t eat it so I started giving him Fancy Feast soft food to put on weight this past summer. I also did this because I thought maybe the soft food was easier for him to eat. However, I observed him eat an entire adult rabbit so I realized that he could eat hard food just fine. He’s been just on Purina cat chow since August now and he seems much healthier. I also de-wormed him though since he likes to feast on things that tend to have worms (chipmunks, mice, and bunnies) so it is possible that he had worms and de-worming him made him feel much better.
How could the vet have known just from a simple 5 min. test that he kidney failure? I’m just asking because I know kidney failure is 100% fatal, correct? Maybe he doesn’t have kidney failure. Is this possible that maybe the vet just "thought" he has kidney failure because it’s so common w/ geriatric kitties? Should I spend money for further testing and what would the tests be and what might they reveal?
Sorry for asking so many questions! And much thanks for any information!

  1. troublesniffer, 14 May, 2010

    It is possible that your kitty may be in the beginning stages of renal failure at his age. This is quite common for felines at about that time.

    Kidney failure can be managed in order to extend a higher quality of life for them. There is a group on Yahoo which is devoted to cats with CRF (chronic renal failure) which I highly advise you connect with. You will get lots of helpful hints and suggestions for diet, care and how to keep your cat as comfortable as possible.

    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Felin…

    I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but Purina cat chow is not appropriate nutrtion for cats, especially those who may be dealing with CRF. This food contains grain and other products which does not support a healthier kidney. Grainless moist cat foods that contain no by-products and gravies are far superior. You can get more up to date information about diet from the group.

    It may be wise to get a second opinion, as well. But even if it turns out that your cat does not have CRF, he certainly is of the age where he is at higher risk. So an appropriate diet is essential. visit : http://www.catinfo.org/
    for the best information available about feeding cats.

    Worms have nothing to do with a kidney problem either. He just may be at the early stage of CRF so now is the time to take action to hopefully prevent quicker progression.

    Hope this helps,
    Troublesniffer
    owned by cats for over 40 years

  2. Laurie, 14 May, 2010

    Kidney failure is one thing, a kidney or bladder infection is another that can be cured with antibiotics. I would seek another vets opinion. If the cat is gaining weight, not water retention weight, that is unusual. The worms may have added to his problems but would not cause such a drastic change. Cats can survive over two years with kidney failure depending on the severity. Since you are not comfortable with this diagnosis another vets opinion may be helpful.

  3. Elaine M, 14 May, 2010

    Kidney failure can go on for years, mine has had it for 4 years now.

    Current research says a low protein diet is best to get the most function out of the kidneys, but most cats won’t eat the food recommended, so it comes down to feeding what the cat WILL eat. What’s very important is to get water into the cat. The more water the better, to help with the kidneys’ functioning. There are good sites online about CRF in cats, do a google search for ‘feline CRF’ and check that over.

    The kidney function is determined by a urine test, they check for sugars and other things being dumped by the kidneys, so yes, they CAN tell when a cat is having trouble with that organ. Unless your cat was in the critical stage, you’ve still got time with him. I had a siamese with 1/4 kidney function who lived 9 more years. Yes, the failure is 100% fatal, but it can come on slowly if you keep the cat hydrated and he’s eating. And yes, it is common in old cats. I have a 19 year old cat who is ‘stable’ but is considered CRF.

    Check the vet sites online about this. If you like, join up with the CRF or kidney cat sites on YahooGroups, the owners there are all dealing with this in their cats. If yours is ‘healthy’ like you describe, you have time with him, potentially years, so don’t let the diagnosis worry you too much. But make sure he’s drinking a good amount of water. You want him peeing two or more times a day, basically. It takes the stress off the kidneys to have fluids in him.

  4. readupmore., 14 May, 2010

    I know that you love your cat but how much money do your want to put into an cat that is fairly old? It sounds like you want to take a healthy cat to the vets. Try to get the cat back on the special cat food and see how it does. There may be other types of cat food for kidney failure. Shop around. Take it back to the vets when and if problems show up otherwise what would the vet look for.

  5. K. Douglas, 14 May, 2010

    All you need is a little punishment. Get a piece of rolled up newspaper and lightly tap him on the face while firmly saying "NO." Your cat will then eventually realize that he is not supposed to be misdiagnosed with kidney failure.

  6. neoalanmi, 14 May, 2010

    To start answering your questions:
    Yes, a urine test can clearly show that a cat has kidney failure. Usually a vet will do a blood test when the cause is unknown first, and if the blood results show elevated levels of BUN, creatinine, and/or phosphorus, then kidney failure is suspect and a urine test will then be done to confirm it. Dying kidneys can’t concentrate urine anymore, along with other things.

    If you caught the kidney failure pretty early, then he might not be showing many symptoms yet. CRF is a slow disease – the onset is often so gradual that owners have no clue anything is amiss and just write off the cat’s weight and muscle loss as normal old age. I had no clue with my cat. Thankfully, the treatments available can give cats a good quality of life for years after diagnosis. My cat is nearing 2 years since being diagnosed, and her treatments have her feeling and eating better than she’s been in years.

    The cat DEFINITELY needs to be on canned food. Kidney failure makes cats get very dehydrated, causing the “drink a lot, pee a lot” symptom. Canned food helps because of its high water content. Being hydrated helps flush the toxins out of the cats body since the kidneys aren’t doing the job anymore. Usually CRF cats get put on subcutaneous fluid injections to help with this as well (with a prescription, it’s actually pretty cheap, and easy to do at home). Your cat knew what he was doing – rabbits (or any raw meat) is full of water. CRF has nothing to do with the cat’s ability to chew, so it’s not a question of being able to crunch a kibble or not. The key component is water intake.

    Newer studies are showing that those prescription kidney diets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. So, don’t worry if the cat won’t eat K/D. Just feed the cat whatever he’ll eat. Many people feed their cats fancy feast (or some other brand found in stores) and their cats live just as long as the people who feed a prescription diet.

    I highly recommend joining the CRF yahoo group someone already posted – I’m in it (and another) and the advice I received there has saved my cat’s life 🙂

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