The kidneys serve an important function in the feline body, particularly to remove waste from the bloodstream, and ensure that the levels of certain minerals like potassium and sodium are kept in balance. The kidneys also help produce urine and conserve water in the body, so when their functions become compromised you will need to take steps to keep the problem under control.
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Moving a cat to a diet that's formulated to improve kidney function is highly recommended, and should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian, who will check your cat's mineral levels to find the right food for them. Generally, foods with a higher water content than the average food are the best bet, and wet food has the highest water content of them all. When left untreated, kidney disease can result in renal failure, or chronic kidney disease, which for cats can lead to incontinence, confusion, and refusal to eat.
What to Consider When Purchasing Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Medical Advice: As with any change to a cat's diet, finding and implementing a pet food designed to improve your cat's kidney health should only be done under the care and supervision of a veterinary professional. In order to diagnose kidney disease, your vet will need to run tests to determine what your cat's degree of kidney failure is using the IRIS (International Renal Interest Society) system, which measures blood pressure, as well as serum creatinine and protein levels in your cat's urine. Self-diagnosing and placing your cat on kidney diets can result in mineral and hormonal imbalances.
Formula: Every cat has their own preference as to which type of food they like best, and when it comes to kidney diets, wet formulas are generally preferred as they contain more water, which is what cat's with kidney disease need. That said, dry kibble is more the norm when it comes to feeding as it's convenient, usually less expensive, and lasts longer, and there are certainly a number of excellent, quality commercial foods on the market.
Renal Failure: Renal failure, also known as kidney failure, occurs when a cat has chronic kidney disease, meaning that at least 2/3 of the kidney's functions become impaired, which often happens before signs of failure are even evident. If your cat has chronic kidney disease, an intervention will definitely need to be implemented as waste will be harder to filter out of the bloodstream naturally. Again, kidney disease is a serious issue and should be explored with the help of a medical professional at all stages, from diagnosis to dietary choices.
The Best Overall Dry Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Hill's Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food
Dry kibble is one of the most popular types of cat food out there, and if you have a cat with kidney disease you can certainly keep them on a dry diet if that's what they prefer. This option is a controlled, low phosphorus formula that is perfect for cats with failing kidneys, like older cats, for whom this deterioration is, unfortunately, quite common. Additionally, this food is low in sodium but rich in amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, further enhanced by EAT (Enhanced Appetite Trigger) technology to encourage your cat to eat enough calories in a day. This is veterinary diet food, meaning your veterinarian will need to sign off with the retailer you purchase from before you can buy this food for your cat.
The Best Overall Wet Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Wet Cat Food, 5.5-oz. Cans, 24-Count
When it comes to kidney health diets, wet food is the best choice for many cats, simply because it already contains a higher water content than dry kibble, and cats with kidney failure need to drink plenty of water to keep their systems working as well as possible. Because kidney disease can't be cured but can be managed, this food leans into that philosophy to make a cat's life more comfortable using a low phosphorous, low sodium formula that uses high-quality protein. This food is also fortified with B-complex, which helps cats absorb more nutrition from their food. This is also a veterinary diet food that must be authorized by your clinic.
The Best Grain-Free Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Forza10 Active Kidney Renal, Dry Cat Food for Adult Cats with Heart and Kidney Problems
If you have a cat with kidney disease and food sensitivities, like grain, then a grain-free formula will be your best bet at ensuring that your cat's dietary needs are carefully met. Low protein, low sodium, and low phosphorous, this food is also formulated without fillers that can sometimes trigger stomach or skin allergy symptoms, including grain, corn, soy, artificial preservatives, and antibiotics. Additional ingredients that support and improve a cat's quality of life through addressing proper urinary tract and kidney health include dandelion, cranberry, and dried clover.
The Best Value Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Dry Cat Food
Although a fairly common occurrence, especially among older cats (less than 10% of cats under the age of three suffer from kidney disease), making arrangements to address a cat's renal disease is often an unexpected expense for many cat owners. Foods formulated to address kidney health in cats are low protein, low sodium, and low phosphorous formulas, which is not the case with standard commercial food for adult cats. Fortunately, there are some low protein diets that will keep a cat's phosphorous levels in check, like this one, which adds up to $0.42/ounce, making it the best value of all of the foods listed. Using real chicken as the first ingredient, and containing zero fillers like by-products, corn, or artificial preservatives, this food controls the levels of protein and minerals in your cat's food to encourage proper kidney function.
The Best Chicken Flavor Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Hill's® Prescription Diet® k/d Kidney Care Cat Food, 2.9-oz. Cans, 24-Count
Chicken is one of the most enjoyed flavors by cats, and this option doesn't skimp on taste while still keeping in mind the dietary regulation needs for cats with kidney disease. This formula keeps phosphorus levels and sodium levels under control, while offering plenty of essential amino acids to build protein and help retain muscle mass, as well as omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil to assist with weight loss, joint health, and skin and hair function.
The Best Beef Flavor Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free Natural Canned Wet Cat Food
This option is not technically a cat food marketed to improve kidney health, but because of the ingredients used, the moisture levels found within it, and the phosphorus and sodium levels contained within at least one flavor (steak frites), it does hold up to the rest of the foods listed here. This limited-ingredient food is low in carbohydrates as well and contains grass-fed beef as the main source of animal protein.