What Is the Right Food for Kidney Disease ?



Renal disease is a common medical issue in adult and senior cats. However, there are special veterinary diets that can be given to cats to help reduce or slow the damage from kidney disease and can help improve your cat’s overall health and life expectancy.

What Is Kidney Disease?

Renal, or kidney disease, is damage to the kidneys. The kidneys are important as they filter out toxins from the blood into the urine. Kidneys also help to regulate the production of red blood cells as well as overall blood and hydration volume. When the kidneys are damaged, it makes it harder to perform these functions, which can cause illness.


Illness, aging, and damage to the kidneys can all cause a reduction in their ability to work. Cats are very susceptible to kidney disease in their senior years, which is why it’s important to feed appropriate foods and enough water to keep them healthy and functioning.

When Will My Veterinarian Recommend a Renal Diet?

Your vet will likely recommend a renal diet if your cat is in the early stages of kidney disease. These therapeutic veterinary diets are a prescription food that can only be purchased from your vet or from a retailer with a veterinary prescription. In many cases of kidney disease, a renal diet can help slow down the progress of kidney disease without needing additional medications. In later stages, the renal diet may help reduce the amount of medication needed or help reduce symptoms of illness.

The Benefits of Renal Diets

Renal diets are a specific food formulation for kidney disease. These diets are low in phosphorus and have a proper protein level — both ingredients that play a major role in kidney function and regulation. Low phosphorus and lower protein diets help reduce the overall load on the kidneys so they can filter toxins and maintain homeostatic balance more easily. Most diets utilize chicken — a protein that is both high-quality for optimal nutrition but low enough in protein and phosphorus to not tax the kidneys. These diets also include EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation.

Luckily, these diets are often highly palatable for cats to eat. They can come in a dry formulation or as a wet food that can be mixed with dry to increase overall taste.

Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian

What should you ask your veterinarian when your cat receives a renal disease diagnosis? The first step is to go over your cat’s blood work and other test results together. Your vet can help you determine what stage of kidney disease your cat is in, and if a veterinary diet or a combination of diet and medication are the best way to proceed.  You’ll also want to ask your vet how often you should check your cat’s condition — your vet may recommend an initial recheck exam after a month or two on the new diet to see if it is working, and then may recommend rechecks every three to six months after.

Kidney disease is no longer the death sentence in cats it once was. With the increase in effective treatment options including specific renal diets, you can help your cat live a longer, healthier life even with illness.


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