Kidney Failure (Uremia) Treatment in Cats
Vomiting may need to be controlled with medications such as famotidine, ranitidine, omeprazole, or others, until the renal condition is stabilized.
Erythropoietin may be used to help counteract the anemia associated with long-term renal failure. Currently, human recombinant erythropoietin is used, which may lead to immune-based destruction of red blood cells and a renewal of the anemia over time. Research is continuing for a safe feline alternative.
Cats with hypertension will need therapy to lower their blood pressure.
A uremic cat who becomes ill, dehydrated, or fails to drink enough water may suddenly decompensate; this is known as a uremic crisis. The cat should be hospitalized and rehydrated with appropriate intravenous fluids and balanced electrolyte solutions.
Some exercise is good for a uremic cat, but stressful activity should be avoided.
Another option to consider for cats with terminal kidney failure is a kidney transplant. Kidney transplants are only done at a few veterinary referral centers but are becoming more common. As with human transplant patients, drugs must be given post-transplant to prevent rejection problems. These drugs are quite expensive and must be carefully calibrated to minimize side effects. Also, it was recently reported that cats are at a higher risk for developing diabetes due to the use of these drugs.
The current method for finding kidney donors is to test shelter cats for tissue compatibility. The shelter cat then donates one kidney-cats, like people, can do fine with just one healthy kidney. The shelter cat is then adopted by the family of the recipient cat, who must agree ahead of time to provide a home for the donor cat for the rest of her life.