veterinarian may prescribe a low protein/low salt/low phosphorus
diet for your CRF cat. This diet is designed to reduce the amount
of waste materials in the system that must be filtered out by
the kidneys. The low salt and low phosphorous help control the
electrolyte imbalances that are common with CRF. While there
is no cure for CRF, this diet may slow the progression of the
disease.* CRF cats sometimes have
a difficult time eating any foods because they tend to secrete
excess stomach acids. Since these foods are often less palatable
than the commercial foods, you must be patient and persistent
in your efforts to get your cat to eat the prescribed diet.
cats may eat some or all of these foods, but many cats absolutely
refuse to eat any. DO NOT starve the cat. If a cat doesn't want
to eat, it WON'T. Remember that it's most important for them
to keep food intake and body weight up. When introducing a new
low protein diet, start by gradually increasing the new food
and decreasing the old. This procedure could take anywhere from
a week to a month depending on how finicky your cat is. If your
cat doesn't like a dry version of the new diet, try the canned
and vice versa.
are varying opinions in the veterinary community as to
whether low protein food is effective in the management
of feline CRF. Some experts believe that any benefit from
eating low protein food may be from the lower content
of phosphorous contained in the food rather than the low
protein itself. Furthermore,
some believe that a low protein diet contributes to weakness
and muscle wasting, two very common symptoms in CRF cats.
protein metabolism residue (that the kidneys must filter)
is what you are trying to eliminate, high quality protein
that produces little waste may be preferable to simply
reducing overall protein. For more information and both
pros and cons regarding this subject, click on the links
Management of Chronic Renal Failure in Cats
- World Small Animal Veterinary Association, World
Congress, Vancouver, 2001
and calorie effects on progression of induced
chronic renal failure in cats
- Abstract, Finco DR, Brown SA, Brown CA, Crowell
WA, Sunvold G, Cooper TL, PubMed
of dietary protein and calorie restriction in
clinically normal cats and in cats with surgically
induced chronic renal failure
- Abstract, Adams LG, Polzin DJ, Osborne CA, O'Brien
Disease in Older Cats - by Jean
Hofve, DVM, Little Big Cat Note: Scroll to Diet:
The Protein Controversy
may eventually reach a point in the CRF progression when an
appetite stimulant is necessary. Your cat doesn't feel good
and doesn't eat. Not eating makes the cat feel even worse. When
giving an appetite stimulant, it will probably be necessary
to experiment with dosage. Too little may not work at all and
too much may result in the cat being wobbly and/or confused.
NEVER give a larger dose than your vet prescribes. Give the
appetite stimulant prior to feeding. If appetite stimulants
don't work, CRF cats may have to be temporarily force-fed, usually
by implanting a tube into the stomach, or by liquefying food
and hand-feeding with a syringe.
|Special diet foods
|The following foods are low protein/low salt/low phosphorus foods.
- Hi-Tor Canned Neo-Diet Feline Canned Kidney Diet -
Waggin Tails 1-888-763-2738
- Restricted protein level to reduce the strain on the kidneys.
- Calories are derived from high quality fats and carbohydrates.
- Reduced levels of sodium and phosphorus.
- Highly palatable in order to ensure adequate consumption and caloric intake.
- Hill's Prescription Diet Feline k/d for the Nutritional Management of Cats with Kidney Disease (dry) 1-800-445-5777 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST, Monday-Friday, available through a veterinarian's office.
- Hill's Prescription Diet Feline k/d with Chicken for the Nutritional Management of Cats with Kidney Disease (canned) 1-800-445-5777 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST, Monday-Friday, available through a veterinarian's office.
Note: We apologize if our Hill's links fail. Hill's frequently changes the urls for their prescription diets. If these links do not work, go to the Hill's homepage and look in their prescription diet area.
- Medi-Cal® Feline Reduced Protein is specially formulated for cats with advanced kidney disease, chronic liver disease and heart failure. It helps prevent the formation of calcium oxalate and metabolic urinary crystals and stones. Dry and canned, available through a veterinarian's office. - Royal Canin Veterinary Diet.
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet - Renal LP 21 (Dry) and Renal LP (Pouch) For the Management of Chronic Renal Failure in Adult Cats 1-800-592-6687, Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 5:00 pm CST, available through a veterinarian's office.
More special diet foods:
The foods in this list, while not formulated specifically for CRF cats, may be prescribed by your vet as a useful adjunct to your cat's diet regimen.
- Hill's Prescription Diet Feline g/d for the Nutritional Management of Older Cats, (canned and dry) 1-800-445-5777 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST, Monday-Friday, available through a veterinarian's office.
- Prescription Diet® a/d® Canine/Feline Critical Care - This food is sometimes prescribed by vets on a temporary basis for weight gain in CRF cats. It is not for long term use. 1-800-445-5777 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST, Monday-Friday, available through a veterinarian's office.
your cat refuses to eat the above foods, do some research, read
ingredient contents and compare protein contents on commercial
foods. Canned foods appear to be lower in protein because the
protein is expressed as a percentage of the total weight which
includes water. Most commercial cat food companies have 800
numbers on their cans and can be contacted for complete nutritional
listings of their foods rather than the general label listings
on the food cans, which may not include phosphorus content.
They are all helpful and willing to provide information. Some
commercial foods are lower in protein, salt and phosphorus,
so it's worth researching if your cat won't eat the special
our visitors have written that they have used baby food to encourage
their CRF cats to eat. We have been very reluctant to add baby
food to our Dietary Management page because the formulation
of baby foods is not nutritionally correct for cats and may
actually be dangerous to cats if the foods contain onion. See
the warnings, below.
of the inadequacies of baby food as a substitute for cat food,
we can only suggest its use in those cases where the cat has
ceased to eat anything else at all. Please read the warnings
and discuss them with your vet before feeding any baby food
to your cat.
Regular cat food has been formulated to include essential ingredients
that cats need. Baby food does NOT contain these essential ingredients.
One of these VERY ESSENTIAL ingredients is taurine.
Make absolutely certain that the baby food you feed your cat
DOES NOT contain any onion powder or onion salt. The smallest
amount of either of these two ingredients may induce anemia
in a cat (or a dog). Check the labels on the baby food and call
the 800 numbers for confirmation of ingredients.
information about onions and cats, please click on these links:
treats shouldn't really be given in the early stages of CRF,
you may reach a point when you think the cat deserves some enjoyment
regardless of the consequences. CRF cats are generally having
a tough time with sub-Q fluids, medications and foods they don't
like and need some joy in their lives. An occasional treat is
not going to make that much difference during later stages of
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet - ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diet™ feline Treats are designed as a palatable reward for good behavior and to enhance the bond between the cat and the owner.
for Getting Your Cat to Eat:
the food in the microwave for a few seconds to room temperature
or slightly warmer may make it more palatable (i.e. strengthen
the aroma) to the cat.
different low protein foods together. You just might hit
on the right combination.
dry foods together (one the cat likes with a low protein
food). Place them in a closed container for a period of
time. The scents mix together and your cat may be enticed
into eating the low protein food.
combinations of canned low protein food and canned commercial
improve flavor, mix:
juice (salt-free and packed in water only, not
vegetable broth which may contain onions)
chicken broth (without onions)
broth (without onions)
a good idea to mix a little warm water with the food at
any time because every little bit of fluid helps. Do
not use bouillon as it's too salty
won't eat what they can't smell. Try putting a couple drops of oil from a can of anchovies on the food to increase aroma.
cats can be coaxed to eat. Talk to the cat, stroke the cat,
sit with the cat, then offer a plate of food and wait or
try to hand-feed.
placing food on the cat's paws or mouth to 'jump-start'
your veterinarian or check pet supply catalogs for flavor
enhancers which can be sprinkled on food to entice the cat
keep food fresh and palatable, feed small amounts at frequent
intervals, particularly if your cat is a 'nibbler'.
your cat likes 'people tuna', you can try mixing tuna and
water in the blender to make 'tuna water' to mix with other
mixing a tiny bit of catnip with the food.
Experiment and be creative.
CRF caregivers have reported success with the use of feeding
tubes. There are several different options which can be discussed
with your vet and a description of each can be found at this
Web site: http://www.lbah.com/Feline/ftube.htm
Although feeding tubes do make it possible to provide nutrition
when a cat won't eat, these devices will not prevent vomiting
and nausea. In addition, the insertion of some feeding tubes
requires anesthesia, an added risk for a cat with advanced
These web pages provide helpful information on the use of feeding tubes and PEG tubes:
While it's important that all cats have fresh water daily, it is crucial that CRF cats have access to fresh water continually. It's advisable to have at least two bowls of fresh water located in different areas of the house for your CRF cat.
Standing water tends to get warm and stale and can gather bacteria, dust and small flying insects even when the water is changed and the bowl is washed every day. You might consider investing in a filter for your water faucet or an automated waterer for your cat which will deliver continuous, fresh, filtered water. This may encourage your cat to drink more water than it would from a regular water bowl. While we are not affiliated with any companies that manufacture waterers, we have been told (both by vets and CRF caregivers) that cats seem to prefer fresh flowing water and that water consumption increases when using an automated waterer device.
Some cats drink from spigots and toilet bowls. If your cat drinks from the toilet, PLEASE make absolutely certain that you are not using any toxic cleaners or toilet bowl deodorizers, etc.
Because CRF cats tend to have upset stomachs, water at room temperature is usually preferable to cold water although some cats prefer ice water. Cats drink more water when they eat dry food and they drink more when the weather is warm. There is no set amount of water for a normal cat to drink each day. More than six to eight ounces per day is usually considered excessive for a normal cat. CRF cats may drink more than this daily.
long as your cat is eating the proper food, it shouldn't be
necessary to supplement, at least in the early stages of CRF.
But, since CRF cats urinate frequently, they may be losing water-soluble
vitamins, including Vitamins B and C, especially if they are
also having trouble eating or keeping their food down. There
are a wide variety of multivitamins available, in tablets and
liquids. Tablets can be ground into a powder and sprinkled on
food. If you do decide to give your cat vitamins, always consult
with your veterinarian first for recommendations as to type
and brand that are suitable. Cats can overdose and even die
on vitamin supplementation.
Food Recall Bulletin
Click here for links to information about pet food recalls