Polycystic Kidney Disease
What is Polycystic Kidney Disease? Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited, progressive disease that results in the formation of multiple fluid-filled sacs inside the kidneys, causing these vital organs to enlarge.
How does my cat get Polycystic Kidney Disease? It occurs at birth. This disease is the result of an autosomal dominant gene. Cysts are present from birth and grow in size and number over time.
How do I know if my cat has Polycystic Kidney Disease? As your cat gets older, you may notice that he begins to urinate more frequently and in greater volume, vomit, not be as hungry, lose weight, and act lethargic. PKD signs tend to be more apparent by age seven. Unchecked, the growth of the cysts enlarge the kidneys and ultimately, lead to kidney failure.Your veterinarian will confirm PKD by ultrasound, a diagnostic tool that is 98 percent accurate in cats older than 10 months. This non-invasive procedure will show the appearance of the kidneys. There is also a genetic test. A veterinarian swabs inside the cheeks with a buccal swab and has this cheek cell sample tested by a lab.
What can I do about Polycystic Kidney Disease? At this time, there is no cure for PKD. At best, you can work with your veterinarian to ease your cat’s condition by providing fresh water daily and serving prescription diets designed for kidney problems. These low-protein, low-phosphorus diets are designed to protect the kidneys. Some cats may need medications to address anemia or high blood pressure, two symptoms sometimes associated with PKD. Once the kidneys start to fail, they lose their ability to screen out toxins. Some afflicted cats live a few years, while others reach their senior years before succumbing to PKD. It depends on how large and how fast the kidney cysts grow.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Polycystic Kidney Disease? If you wish to adopt a purebred cat, particularly a Persian or Himalayan, contact a professional breeder who carefully tracks and eliminates PKD-positive cats from his or her breeding populations. One parent with the autosomal dominant gene is enough to cause a 50 percent chance of passing on this kidney condition to the kittens. Kittens will not inherit this disease if both parents are deemed to be genetically free of PKD.
Are there certain breeds that get Polycystic Kidney Disease more often? Yes. Persians are most at risk for PKD, but Exotics, Domestic Long Hair, and Himalayans are also susceptible.