It is true; cats too can successfully receive kidney transplants.
Chronic renal failure (CRF) is a slow but sure loss of function of the kidneys which in due course persists until the residual kidney function is deficient to support life. Chronic renal failure may take place from a variety of sources but the end result, terminal renal failure, is identical. Chronic renal failure is commonly diagnosed in clinical veterinary practice in felines. Management of this disease is aimed at at long-term maintenance of the patient knowing that the patient will eventually die from renal failure. Kidney transplantation, which is being performed with increasing regularity in cats, is one therapy that may re-establish renal function and improve the feline’s quality of life. Nevertheless, consideration of a kidney transplant requires a substantial commitment from a cat owner due to the financial investment and effort essential to maintain these four-footed patients after surgery.
Chronic renal failure is in the main considered a geriatric disease. However, the age of cats diagnosed with chronic renal failure may fluctuate from 9 months or less to extreme old age. In very young cats, chronic renal failure may often transpire in association with inherited or congenital renal diseases.
The diagnosis of renal failure is more often than not based on laboratory tests which exhibit elevated concentrations of waste products in the blood that the kidney would on average filter out and excrete in the urine. These lab tests take in elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum creatinine concentrations together with an inadequate urine-concentrating ability known as dilute urine specific gravity. The chronic nature of the disease is well-known by historical evidence that the state has been present for months to years or through additional testing to document secondary changes, like anemia, that in time develop in the chronic renal failure feline patient…
Apart from of the cause, it must be documented that chronic renal failure is a progressive and irreversible disease. Even if the agents accountable for the initial renal insult can be acknowledged and removed, kidneys with chronic failure will keep on progressively deteriorating. There is no curative medical treatment for chronic renal failure.
Maintenance treatments that are accessible to the practicing veterinarian are directed at dropping the clinical signs associated with renal failure and slowing down the progression of renal dysfunction as much as achievable. These treatments may comprise of management of anemia, fluid administration, dietary therapy, modification of calcium and phosphorus, and management of hypertension. Depending on how advanced in the progression of CRF the individual feline may be, aggressive medical management may prolong his/her life from a few short months to several years. Although, it is imperative to try to make an accurate evaluation of where your cat is in this progression and not just be hopeful that you will get hold of a maximum duration of survival out of medical management. Waiting too long to make a decision on a transplant will decrease the chances of success significantly.
Kidney transplantation is the only potentially remedial treatment for chronic renal failure. Cats receiving transplanted kidneys have been known to stay alive as long as 6 years or more after surgery. The implanted kidney functions on the whole provide a much improved excellence of life for the transplant feline recipient. Still, mitigation of chronic renal failure and purging of the associated disease and maintenance therapy is accomplished in trade for therapy aimed at maintaining the transplanted kidney. Transplant patients will have need of daily lifelong medication to thwart rejection.