16 year old Cat with Kidney Issues-Is Raw Food okay?

by El
(Santa Barbara)

Hi Dr. Neely,

I have a sweet male 16 year old kitty. He is the best companion. I had lab work done the end of December of 2010. Here were the numbers:

BUN 51 (2 years ago it was 38)
Creatinine 2.8 (2 years ago it was 2.6)
BUN/Creatinine Ratio: 18
Urine showed 2+ for protein
Phosphorous 4.9

At this time he was getting mostly dry food. When I got his results back I took him completely off the dry food. As a result, he has lost a couple of pounds (from 15 to 13). He was a big cat to begin with. He is eating okay, but I'm trying to find the right food for him now. The doctor said he needed to be on a special diet, but only offered the food she sold at the clinic. I would like to know some foods you recommend.

Also, there are some good raw food diets out there and organic canned foods with high quality ingredients. What do you think?

Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

Dear El,

There is a lot of controversy about whether there is a high benefit to feeding prescription kidney diets for cats with kidney disease. I personally have used them for 20 years, and feel as though I have seen great results, especially recently with Royal Canin. However, there is no way to know for certain whether the cats would have done just as well on another food.

The bottom line for any cat, but especially for a sick cat, is that it is most important that your cat eat. If your kitty doesn’t like the prescription diet cat food, it is more important that your cat eat something than stay on a prescription diet.

Controversy aside, I can say that it is very important for a cat with kidney disease to be fed a diet of only canned food, as cats in renal failure or with renal insufficiencies need the higher moisture content in their diet. Should you decide to try a different food, other than prescription diets your veterinarian recommends, I would suggest that you refer to these charts regarding the nutritional content of most canned foods, both commercial and prescription. When choosing any commercial brands, try to select the canned cat food brands and flavors that are lowest in protein and phosphorus. Ideally, matching your selections as closely as possible to the stats in the prescription renal diets would be best for your kitty.

Also, if cooking for your cat is something you are interested in doing, or if you are considering feeding a raw food diet, please read the important cat nutrition information from Dr. Lisa Pierson at CatInfo.org. Her article regarding cats with chronic kidney disease and notes about making cat food are great places to start.

Best wishes to you and your kitty,
Dr. Neely

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