Feline CKD: Pathophysiology and Risk Factors–What Do We Know?

Reynolds B.S. and Lefebvre H.P.


Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 2013. 15 Suppl 1: p.3-14.


PRACTICAL RELEVANCE: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most frequently encountered disorders in cats, having increased in prevalence in recent decades. Although the underlying cause is rarely identified, the common final outcome of feline CKD is tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Knowledge of CKD pathophysiology is necessary for optimal individualised patient management, especially with regard to diagnosis and treatment of extrarenal complications. PATIENT GROUP: CKD is most common in senior and geriatric cats, but should be considered in any feline patient with ureterolithiasis, hyperthyroidism, retrovirus infection, systemic hypertension, cardiovascular disease or urinary tract infection. EVIDENCE BASE: Most of our knowledge of the pathogenesis of CKD is extrapolated from human nephrology and experimental animal studies. There is, therefore, a need for further studies in cats. The prevalence of clinical signs in feline CKD is well documented. Several concurrent diseases associated with CKD have also been reported in cats, especially in the geriatric population, but there is no or only limited published evidence demonstrating a cause-and-effect relationship between most of these conditions and CKD. Studies performed over the past 15 years have nevertheless allowed identification of major risk factors (proteinuria, plasma phosphate and plasma creatinine) influencing the progression of feline CKD. CLINICAL CHALLENGES: Clinical signs occur in the late stages of renal disease, so populations at higher risk of CKD should be screened routinely. CKD-associated complications (systemic hypertension, secondary renal hyperparathyroidism, hypokalaemia, anaemia, metabolic acidosis) must not be overlooked as they may affect the progression of disease. Disease progression is itself unpredictable and renal function may remain stable for extended periods. Most cats with early CKD do not progress to end-stage CKD before they die. AUDIENCE: General practitioners play a major role in screening feline patients at risk of development or progression of CKD.