Our cat is in renal failure level 3. The first vet thought it may be genetic, but three other vets suspect environmental causes. One vet suspected the high protein content of the YA food was an exacerbating influence if not more causal. Thoughts?

We are very sorry you are going through this with your kitty. They become such a part of our life and it is never easy.

High protein diets made with animal protein that contain less than 8% starch, will not cause or exasperate your cat’s kidney disease. We know of no research that suggests that feeding a carnivore diet to a carnivore cat will cause kidney disease. Please ask your Vet to explain how that would work from a biologic and metabolic point of view. How would it benefit a cat to be a carnivore, eating animal protein, if the outcome was kidney disease? People expect solutions from their vet and when there is little they can tell you, they usually suggest a change in food. Food is the one thing that you could try doing differently, instead of you leaving their office with nothing to try and feeling helpless.

Kidney disease is just that, a disease. Sometimes it progresses very quickly (weeks or months) and other times it takes longer to progress. There are some environmental causes, tooth infections, diabetes, steroids, toxins and blocked or inflamed urinary tract. Sometimes a cat will develop an infection then clear it on their own, but the damage may have been already done only to manifest as kidney disease at a later date. Years ago, a University researcher here in Minnesota told us they suspected vaccinations may be a contributing factor for cats developing kidney disease, the vaccines were made using kidney cells and the researcher felt there was a relationship. The list is extensive and in most cases there is little  you could have done to prevent it. As you can tell from all the different opinions you have received, even the medical community does not really know. You cannot stop kidney disease, but you can often slow it down.

Feeding a diet low in phosphorus is the only proven way to slow the progression of kidney disease. What is the phosphorus blood level of your cat? If it is well above mid-line of normal a phosphorus binder might be warranted and your vet can help you with this decision. Feeding a low protein diet does not significantly reduce stress on the kidneys and many cats will compensate for the low protein content of the food by overeating the diet. Most cats will still eat to meet their protein needs and will consume up to 40% more of a low protein diet than a Young Again diet. Of course, they will also consume more phosphorus when they over consume any diet. You could feed a low protein diet on a restricted basis to make sure they don't over eat, but then you will likely have a hungry, unhappy cat and likely no significant change in the progression of the disease.

Low protein diets can cause muscle wasting in cats. As cats age their demand for a high quality protein actually increases; this remains true for kidney disease cats as well as normal cats. A properly balance diet would be 2 parts protein, 1 part fat and should contain less than 8% starch. All the protein should be from animal sources and hydrolyzed protein is preferred.

We have thousands of cats consuming our food and many of them are kidney disease cats. They do well on our foods. The new LID Mature formula is likely the best for kidney Cats as all of the protein is from a hydrolyzed source and that makes the protein highly digestible.

I always regret when a client leaves a vet office thinking, if only I did this differently. Kidney disease is not your fault. Many of the diets sold for our cats contain numerous plant based ingredients and contain more phosphorus than our cats need. Kittens need 0.80% phosphorus for growth and once your cat is done growing she will only need 0.50% for the rest of her life. Phosphorus is key in managing your cat’s health. Do you know how much phosphorus is in your cat food?

It is likely that inappropriate ingredients place additional stress on our cat’s metabolism and that this may lead to serious medical issues. Many of today's medical issues were rare when cats were fed animal protein based diets. It has only been since the 1980's, when plant based diets became popular, that we saw such a dramatic rise in obesity, diabetes and kidney disease. We firmly believe it is best to feed our carnivore friends a carnivore diet.

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