Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that affects a cat’s kidneys. It’s associated with multiple fluid-filled cysts in their kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure and other health problems.
PKD is caused by a mutation in the PKD1 or PKD2 gene, which produces proteins that help regulate cell growth and division. In cats with PKD, these proteins are not produced correctly, leading to abnormal cell growth and cyst growth on and in their kidneys.
Symptoms of Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease
Symptoms of Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease may not be apparent until the later stages of the disease. Some common symptoms include:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
Diagnosing Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease
Diagnosing Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease may involve a combination of physical examination, imaging tests, and genetic testing.
During a physical examination, the veterinarian might press your cat’s abdomen to feel for enlarged kidneys or cysts. Imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-rays can also be used to visualize the kidneys and confirm the presence of cysts.
Genetic testing can be used to diagnose PKD in cats. This involves a DNA test to look for the PKD1 or PKD2 mutation in the gene that causes the disease. Breeders can use genetic testing to identify cats that are carriers of the mutation and avoid breeding them, which helps prevent the spread of PKD.
Stages of Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease
Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease progresses slowly, and the severity of the disease can be split into several stages.
In the early stages, there might not be any noticeable symptoms. Imaging tests might reveal the presence of small cysts in their kidneys.
As the disease progresses, cats can start having symptoms such as increased thirst, weight loss, and vomiting. Imaging tests will show larger cysts in their kidneys.
In the late stages of PKD, cats can have kidney failure and other serious health problems. Symptoms can include lethargy, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing.
Treating Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease. Treatment options focus on managing their symptoms and preventing complications such as kidney failure. Managing their symptoms can involve medications to control their high blood pressure or urinary tract infections, as well as a special diet to support kidney function.
In severe cases, cats with PKD will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. These options can be expensive and may not be feasible for all cat owners.
Regular monitoring by a veterinarian is important for cats with PKD to detect any changes in their kidney function and adjust their treatment accordingly.
Preventing Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease
Because Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease is a genetic disorder, prevention involves careful breeding practices. Breeders should test all cats for the PKD1 and PKD2 gene mutations before breeding to avoid passing on the disease to their offspring.
Cats that are carriers of the PKD mutation should not be bred with other cats that are carriers or affected by PKD. Instead, they should be bred with cats that don’t carry the mutation to prevent passing on the disease to future generations.
It’s also important for cat owners to be aware of their cat’s potential risk for developing PKD if their cats have the mutation. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and monitoring for symptoms can help catch the disease early and minimize complications. A healthy diet and proper hydration can also support kidney function and slow the progression of the disease.