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
Some exercise is good for a uremic cat, but stressful activity should be
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
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.