Kidney Diets For Cats (holistic Recommendations)


When Vincent was diagnosed with last stage kidney failure in July 2018, I was also at a loss on what would be the best diet for him. Of course vets recommended the prescription diet, but here’s the thing: Vincent was a very strong-willed cat. There was no way I could force him to eat whatever he did not want.

So, I decided to respect Vincent’s food choices. Vincent chose raw food. It was also partly due to his terrible mouth ulcers where he could only eat raw chicken fillet and raw liver because of the smooth texture. After his mouth ulcers got better, Vincent did eat canned foods as well. But he refused all prescription diets. I had to respect that. He ate Cubgrub, which was raw food.

For eight-and-a-half months, Vincent had great appetite except for the few near-death episodes from which he bounced back, against all odds. He enjoyed eating very much and literally ate like a horse (to replenish the protein loss).

In August 2018, the vet already thought he wouldn’t have made it, but he did. And bounced back and “thrived”, by kidney cats standards. He never lost his appetite except for those few episodes. He was active, very alert and happy. He only went down towards the last two weeks.

So, did I do right by Vincent? I don’t know, but I hope I did.

Now, I find myself in the same situation again, with Bunny and Indy diagnosed with early kidney disease where what matters most is the diet and hydration.

So I am searching again. Bunny is “easy” in that he is a foodie and will eat anything. Indy, unfortunately, has always been a kibble-king. And according to holistic vets, kibble would be the last thing one would feed a kidney cat. However, Bunny does have a rather sensitive stomach so certain foods can trigger a vomiting episode in him.

I share here, three articles regarding the diet for kidney cats, from a holistic perspective.

From Feline Nutrition: https://feline-nutrition.org/health/phosphorus-can-be-key-for-kidneys

Number one is water intake. Cats with chronic kidney disease are more likely to become dehydrated due to the reduced ability of the kidneys to conserve water by concentrating urine. Maintaining a good fluid intake is very important, and as cats generally gain much of their water from their food, cats with chronic renal disease should, whenever possible, be fed wet foods rather than dry, grain-based foods.
Number two is protein content. An ideal diet for a cat with renal disease should have a highly digestible, bio-appropriate protein content, such as rabbit and poultry. Many of the toxic products that accumulate in the blood in renal failure are a result of protein breakdown. Clinically we find that our raw fed renal cats do well on highly digestible proteins like rabbit, chicken, hare and possum. Too little protein in the diet can lead to excessive weight loss that can be extremely detrimental to a cat’s general health. Cats find low protein diets less palatable and often moving a cat to a raw, high quality protein diet from a renal prescription diet leads to improved appetite.
Number three is low phosphate content. Phosphorous is a mineral essential to good health. The healthy body is good at regulating phosphorous levels by removing excess phosphorous via the kidneys. The kidneys of a CKD cat can no longer excrete excess phosphorous. The majority of CKD cats will eventually have high levels of phosphorous in their blood, called hyperphosphataemia. Hyperphosphataemia can present as a lack of appetite, lack of co-ordination, weakness and twitching. Often the head is held down as though the cat is too weak to hold his head up.

From Dr Karen Becker’s interview with cat expert, Dr Lisa Pierson: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/03/06/cat-care-tips-for-kidney-disease.aspx

“I feed a water-rich diet. I feed a species-appropriate highprotein/moderate fat/zero carb diet. With regard to how protein affects the kidneys, it’s important to understand protein is not the enemy of the cat kidney. Protein doesn’t cause kidney disease. It doesn’t exacerbate kidney disease. It is not the enemy of the kidney.

If there’s one take-home message I want to get across, it’s ‘Please stop vilifying protein!’ I would not feed any of the protein-restricted, so-called ‘prescription’ diets to any cat in my care. There are always better options.”

There’s nothing that frustrates me more than to see cat owners leave their vet’s office with a bag of fluids under one arm and a bag of dry food under the other arm. They’ve been told to feed a water-depleted diet and then stick a needle in their cat’s back to put water into him. That’s pretty nonsensical

The sensible approach? Step one, provide a water-rich diet. Step two, the diet should be low in phosphorus. Step three, supplement with omega-3 fatty acids— fish oil, fish oil, fish oil. When we do post-mortems on these cats, we see nephritis. ‘Neph-‘ means kidney, ‘-itis’ means inflammation.

We know that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are anti-inflammatory. There was a meta-data study done that looked back at all the individual CKD studies that were done, and the researchers discovered that cats getting high amounts of fish oil seemed to live the longest.

Are they eating a water-rich diet? Are they eating plenty of it? Do they have any vomiting or diarrhea? Are they bright and alert? You don’t just start fluids arbitrarily at a number. You look at the patient.

It’s also important to understand that plain water (no sodium, chloride, etc.) taken in orally is healthier for a body then the fluids that are administered subcutaneously. Therefore, we should do whatever we can to increase oral water intake before starting sub Q fluids. This means feeding no dry food and adding some extra water to canned food or a homemade diet.”

I think if an animal is saying, “Don’t do that to me,” we need to not do it to them. That’s one of the hardest things to convince clients of, that “This will be a really nice approach IF our patient participates.” But if we have a cat who chooses not to participate, we need to respect that. I think we need to encourage our clients to be more respectful and push less. “I agree 100 percent,” says Dr. Lisa. “My Toby, I thought he’d be very easy to give fluids to. I tried it, and he hated it, so I didn’t force him to accept the procedure.”

Sometimes we end up making decisions to not treat the patient, because they have decided they don’t want to be treated. That’s called honoring our patients’ wishes.

“Quality over quantity,” Dr. Lisa agrees. “Because let’s face it, we want everybody, human and animal, to live forever. There’s a selfish component to it, because you don’t want to lose them. But don’t be selfish with your cats. Listen to them.”

From Dr Dennis Thomas: https://drdennisthomas.com/kidney-disease-in-cats/

My suggestions for preventing chronic kidney disease in the cat are:

  1. Feed a wholesome, balanced diet that is not heat-processed.  Avoid dry kibble.
  2. Minimize immunizations.  I do not recommend giving core vaccines (FVRCP and Rabies) more frequently than once every three years.
  3. Avoid using any insecticides on your cat.  If you have problems with fleas or ticks, there are natural products that can be effective.

My suggestion for cats that have been diagnosed with kidney failure:

  1. Don’t believe that your cat is going to die.  Your belief system has a lot to do with your cat’s ability to heal.
  2. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation with conventional treatment and support.
  3. Find a holistic veterinarian that can help your cat using alternative modalities.
  4. Feed a balanced, wholesome diet that is not heat-processed.
  5. Since kidney disease is so common, and often so devastating, we are wise  to look for treatments that hold true promise.

Source: https://myanimalcare.org/2019/03/28/kidney-diets-for-cats-ho..




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