first receive the CKD diagnosis, many people who are keen to do all they
can to help their cat consider dialysis.
Unfortunately, ongoing dialysis is not appropriate for cats as it is for
It is also
only available in a limited number of centres, and is incredibly
expensive - it costs up to US$25,000 for 2-3 weeks - so is beyond the
reach of most people.
What is Dialysis?
filter waste products from the blood, and discard them in urine. Damaged CKD
kidneys cannot perform this function properly, so waste products build up in
the bloodstream and make the patient feel unwell. Dialysis is a
method of filtering the blood to remove the waste products so the patient
feels better. Normally dialysis has to be performed on an ongoing basis.
There are two main types of dialysis, haemodialysis and
peritoneal dialysis. Because of the cost and stress factor,
neither type is commonly performed on
cats, although haemodialysis is sometimes used to keep a
seriously ill cat going prior to a
transplant, and peritoneal dialysis is occasionally used for cats with
acute kidney injury.
A limited number of centres also offer a
method called continous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).
This is the type
of dialysis which people usually think of when they hear the word
"dialysis". It is available for cats at a limited number of
facilities in the USA, and as in human patients, the process lasts several
hours and has to be performed several times a week. It can only be given in
hospital and is extremely expensive, with the Animal Medical Center in New
York estimating the cost at US$20-25,000 for the first
One member of
Tanya's CKD Support Group had haemodialysis performed on her cat in February
and March 2017, prior to a kidney transplant. Her cat had the dialysis
catheter implanted under anaesthesia and his dialysis sessions lasted around
six hours. The goal is apparently to halve the kidney values each time, they
will increase again between sessions but hopefully will remain lower overall
than at the beginning.
The cat required some blood transfusions (not every cat on dialysis will
need these), and medication for low blood pressure, which can be a side
effect of dialysis. He
received dialysis five times over a period of two weeks, but was able to
maintain without further dialysis for a couple of weeks until he received
is owned by Dr Cathy Langston, a veterinary dialysis expert. She
explains more about how haemodialyis is performed.
This entails using the peritoneal cavity as a means of
dialysis. The peritoneum is semi-permeable, so urea/BUN, creatinine and
phosphorus can pass through it. In peritoneal dialysis, a sterile dialysis
solution is introduced into the peritoneal cavity, and this solution then
collects waste products and excess electrolytes by means of diffusion.
However, it is very hard to maintain sterility and avoid infection using
this method, so it is highly unlikely that you will come across this form of
treatment in practice; it tends to be reserved for cases of acute kidney injury.
Continous renal replacement therapy is used for acute situations when a cat is
critically ill. It provides continous treatment and is usually only provided
until the cat is stable once again, at which point the cat would often
switch to haemodialysis.
This is not a standard form of dialysis, though its goals
are similar. It is a method of trying to relieve the load on damaged kidneys
by expelling waste via the gastrointestinal tract.
Nutritional management of renal disease: an
evidence-based approach (2014)
Sanderson SL Today's Veterinary Practice 4(1) pp51-56
explains the theory behind enteric dialysis.
TREATING YOUR CAT WITHOUT VETERINARY ADVICE CAN BE
tried very hard to ensure that the information provided in this website is
accurate, but I am NOT a vet, just an ordinary person who has lived
through CKD with three cats. This website is for educational purposes
only, and is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat any cat. Before
trying any of the treatments described herein, you MUST consult a
qualified veterinarian and obtain professional advice on the correct
regimen for your cat and his or her particular requirements; and you
should only use any treatments described here with the full knowledge and
approval of your vet. No responsibility can be accepted.
If your cat
appears to be in pain or distress, do not waste time on the internet,
contact your vet immediately.
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one copy to give to your vet, but this site may not otherwise be
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This site is a labour of love, from which I do not make
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If you wish to
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