Holistic Support for Cats with Kidney Disease Part 2. Late joining this series? Catch up on Part 1 now!
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how kidney disease starts in cats, and also why it’s important to give them a low-protein kidney diet.
In Part 2, we will cover the best diet for cats with kidney disease, how to decrease inflammation, and how to improve kidney function and gut health.
The Best Diet for Cats with Kidney Disease:
The presentation I watched on this topic during the Animal Wellness Summit was by Dr. Ruth Roberts, an integrative veterinarian and holistic health coach for pets. She has thoughtfully put together a holistic treatment plan for kitties diagnosed with kidney disease, and the first step is improving nutrition.
She Suggests the Following:
- Feed a cooked or wet food diet instead of raw.
It’s easier for cats with chronic kidney disease to digest.
- Avoid a high carbohydrate diet.
Even grain free food can have way too many carbs. Often times plant proteins (like peas and legumes) are used to artificially inflate the protein levels, so you have to read the labels carefully.
- Feed highly digestible foods.
Think animal protein, not plant protein. Cats don’t have the enzymes to break down plant proteins well.
- Feed a diet that is about 30% protein.
- Use a phosphorus binder.
This binds to the phosphorus in the food and passes through the digestive tract and out of the body in the stools instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream. Phosphorus that is absorbed into the bloodstream has to be filtered through the kidneys and puts more stress on them.
Increasing water intake is vital for cats. This offsets the higher phosphorus and protein levels. If your cat already eats a wet diet you have a head start. Need more ways to get your cat to drink more water? Try a pet fountain or adding a filter to your water to improve the taste. If your cat is a kibble-aholic, try adding water to the kibble.
The next step that Dr. Roberts recommends is to decrease inflammation. Chronic inflammation puts more stress on the kidneys, and there are several things you can do to decrease it.
- Feed a lower-carb diet.
Carbohydrates promote inflammation so you have to read the pet food labels! (Holistic vets I follow recommend 6-8%. Not sure how to determine how many carbs are in your cat’s food? Read this article.)
- Use high doses of omega-3’s.
She recommends 25-50 mg/lb, so you’ll need to find a concentrated product.
- Use a supplement called quercetin.
It’s a phytonutrient that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Quercetin prevents advanced glycation end-product (AGE) deposits in the kidneys which cause scarring and loss of kidney function. AGEs are compounds resulting from cooking proteins at high heat levels. She recommends 100-200 mg daily.
- Rhubarb root.
This increases blood flow to the kidneys and reduces inflammation. She recommends 1 drop per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day.
- Reduce stress.
When stress levels decrease, cortisol decreases too; lower cortisol levels reduce inflammation.
Improve Kidney Function:
For a cat with kidney damage, the main goal should be to support and try to improve kidney function. Unfortunately, nephrons don’t regenerate, so the goal is to support the remaining ones and provide the best quality of life possible. There are several ways to do this. Along with using the supplements mentioned above (Quercitin, rhubarb root, and omega-3s), increasing moisture in the food, and using phosphorus binders, your vet may also offer a few “conventional” options.
Here Are Those Options:
- Control blood pressure, if elevated, with medication. If blood pressure is elevated it can further damage the kidneys.
- Administer sub-cutaneous fluids. Fluid therapy helps to flush out the toxins and preserve kidney function.
- Stem cell therapy for kidneys with PRP (platelet rich plasma) can also improve kidney function. The body signals the stem cells to make new, healthy versions of the ones that were damaged.
Improve Gut Health:
Finally, improving your cat’s gut health is another way to provide support for a cat with kidney disease. Feed your cat real food, not processed “feed grade” food with meat meals, by-products, carbohydrates, and fillers. Human grade food is easier to digest. Your cat may benefit from a little extra fiber like fresh pumpkin or a little bit of psyllium husk mixed in if stools are hard or if you see any signs of constipation.
Using a good quality probiotic with a high number of bacteria strains helps restore gut flora. A great microbiome helps improve the immune system and creates an anti-inflammatory response. One of the biggest challenges with cats who don’t feel well is to keep them eating. As kidney disease progresses you may have to find creative ways to keep up the appetite. Alfalfa has been used successfully to help with this, and you can explore herbal and homeopathic formulas.
Many vets are still under the false belief that low protein diets are best for cats with kidney disease. It’s important to educate yourself so you understand why this is incorrect. Try using the recommendations from Dr. Ruth Roberts in order to give your cat the very best kidney support possible. For Zoltan, I was able to muscle test the supplements as well as the food in order to provide his dad with the best tools to support his precious kitty. Use muscle testing to find out exactly which products will work best for your cat and provide the best quality of life possible.
Do you have a cat with kidney disease? If so, have you tried using any of the recommendations above? Share in the comments below!
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