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Management of CRF

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General - Helping Your CRF Cat

Food

  • Feed a low protein/low salt/low phosphorus diet and put the food dish in a quiet, low-traffic area of your home.
  • Keep track of the quantity of food your cat eats. This information will be helpful to your veterinarian.
  • Dispose of old food and start with fresh each time you feed the cat. Clean the food bowl daily.
  • If you store cat food in the refrigerator, always warm the food to room temperature before serving.
  • Do not give your cat table scraps.
  • Older cats sometimes have difficulty eating and chewing. If this is true with your cat, try placing the food in a mound rather than in a level pile. Elevating the plate or bowl a few inches from the floor may help the cat to eat easier, too. Breaking the food into smaller pieces can also help an older cat to eat.

Water

  • 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.
  • We believe that cats should be given bottled water rather than tap water whenever possible. Spring water is free of most of the chemicals found in tap water.
  • 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.

Environment and TLC

  • Provide love, affection and companionship.
  • Avoid stressful situations for the cat and provide a calm environment.
  • Protect the cat from extreme heat and cold and keep it indoors.
  • Provide comfortable, warm places in quiet areas away from normal household traffic and drafts. Form an afghan, blanket or comforter into a nest or buy a cat bed. Bedding material should be washed on a regular basis.
  • Cats with CRF are often nauseous, so be gentle when handling your cat.
  • CRF cats usually do not groom themselves as frequently as they should. Continue to brush and groom the cat daily, but be very gentle around the sub-Q injection area.
  • Check and trim your cat's claws frequently or have your veterinarian do it. It's important to learn the correct procedure; otherwise you may cut too close and injure a blood vessel.
  • Jumping is sometimes difficult for older cats and CRF cats may also have low potassium levels which can lead to muscle weakness. This may cause difficulty and pain when they try to climb stairs, jump to windowsills or jump onto furniture. Ramps and low pieces of furniture strategically placed will help your cat to continue on with its normal activities.
  • The importance of an identification tag and collar or microchip implant cannot be stressed enough, particularly in the case of a CRF cat, who could die quickly without the proper care. Even if your cat is a complete indoor cat, there are circumstances in which it may escape. Wherever you live, natural disasters can happen. If your house catches fire or you have a severe earthquake, tornado or hurricane, your cat could be lost in the confusion. It's well worth the small investment you'll make and you'll feel much better whenever you leave your cat home alone.
  • While CRF cats may still be able to play, they tire easily. It's important to watch for increased, labored or rapid breathing.
  • Spend as much time as possible with your cat and treasure every second.

Litter box

  • Clean the litter box daily as needed. Change litter and wash the litter box at least once a week or more.
  • If possible, have two litter boxes and position them in quiet, low-traffic areas.
  • Invest in a new litter box with lower sides if your cat has difficulty climbing into his current one.

Get into the habit of doing these frequent checks:

  • Monitor your cat's litter box habits for any changes of routine in urination or bowel movements.
  • Keep track of your cat's water consumption.
  • Weigh your cat frequently.
  • Feel your cat's skin and coat on a regular basis for sores and lumps.
  • Check for anemia on a regular basis. Get to know the color of your cat's gums, tongue and insides of ears and check for paleness.
  • Check for dehydration on a regular basis by doing the pinch test. Gently pinch your cat's skin at the neck. If it does not snap back into place, check with your veterinarian. You can also feel the gums for dryness.
  • Inspect your cat's mouth regularly for oral ulcers and halitosis.
  • Check your cat's eyes regularly for any changes.
  • Watch your cat's daily routine and note any changes for your veterinarian.
  • If your cat goes outside (not a good idea for CRF cats or, in our opinion, for any cat), check regularly for parasites.

Vaccinations - Should you or shouldn’t you?

We faithfully gave Avatar all of his vaccinations for most of his life. When he was newly-diagnosed with CRF, we began to question whether it was necessary to continue regularly scheduled vaccinations since he was a totally indoor cat.

There were, however, outside neighborhood cats who came to visit him. Though they all looked healthy, we couldn’t be sure that a sneeze through a screen wouldn’t be dangerous to Avatar. It was only in the last two years of his life that we made the decision, with our vet’s blessing, to stop all vaccinations.

That being said, we cannot endorse that decision for anyone else. It all depends on your feelings on the issue, your individual cat and his habits – whether your cat goes outside (not something we recommend), if you are a multi-cat family with other cats that may have infectious diseases, what your vet advises, etc.

Vaccination protocols have changed somewhat within the last few years with longer intervals between booster shots. We have provided some links below that may be helpful to you:

FVRCP Vaccine

While research continues, it is extremely interesting that there may be a correlation between the FVRCP vaccine and chronic renal failure in cats.

Flea Medications

CRF cats are prone to anemia and fleas could increase the risk. Since fleas consume blood, contributing to anemia even in otherwise healthy cats, it would seem that the risk imposed by a flea infestation would be more serious to a CRF cat than any side effects from the use of flea-control medication. However, we recommend talking to your vet before using any flea-control products on your CRF cat.

The manufacturers of the flea product, Revolution, recommend not giving it to "sick, weak and underweight animals".

Your Veterinarian

  • See your veterinarian on a regular basis.
  • You know your cat best. Always have as many details and observations as possible ready when you talk to your veterinarian. If necessary, make a list to take with you to the vet's.