CRF is a disease of the kidneys, and as indicated by the word "failure", CRF is ultimately terminal. This is a devastating thing to hear for many people. However, it makes more sense to focus instead on the word "chronic": this means that the disease is an ongoing one, with gradual deterioration taking place as kidney function fails; and with appropriate treatments it may be possible in some cases to slow the deterioration down.
If your cat has just been diagnosed with CRF, you may have been told that there is no hope for your cat; your cat may even be in the midst of a crisis, perhaps on intravenous fluids (IV, or a drip) at the vet's. If so, you are probably feeling shell-shocked and frightened; but please take a deep breath and don't give up all hope just yet, because it may be possible to help your cat.
Types of Kidney Failure
There are two kinds of kidney failure, Acute Renal Failure (renal means kidney-related), abbreviated here as ARF; and Chronic Renal Failure, abbreviated as CRF.
ARF is a serious condition which usually comes on suddenly and which is often triggered by a particular event or "insult", such as your cat eating something poisonous. Lilies and antifreeze are both extremely toxic to cats and may cause ARF. ARF is usually treated with IV fluids and other medications at the vet's and, although it is hard to treat, if the cat survives the initial crisis, he/she can often regain much or sometimes all of his/her normal kidney function.
CRF may also manifest itself very suddenly and require IV treatment at the vet's, but in contrast to ARF it is an ongoing disease in which it is not possible to regain lost kidney function; so the goal is to keep the remaining function for as long as possible.
Other Urinary Tract Problems
In recent times I have been receiving quite a lot of mail from people whose cats have lower urinary tract problems rather than kidney problems. Lower urinary tract problems are relatively common in cats, but do not automatically lead to kidney problems. So please be sure your cat has kidney issues before deciding this is the website to help your cat, because treating for the wrong condition is at best pointless and at worst dangerous. If you are not sure, ask your vet if your cat has CRF or another condition that would fall into the category of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). You can read about our experiences with FLUTD, including a lifethreatening urinary tract blockage caused by struvite crystals, with one of our other cats, Harpsie.
Is Chronic Renal Failure Terminal?
Sadly, yes, CRF is terminal. BUT that does not necessarily mean death is imminent: it is often possible to buy the cat months or even years of quality life. In fact, with appropriate treatment, quite a few CRF cats not only live for a long time, they eventually die of other causes, with the CRF firmly under control at the time of death.
An analogy used by my vet is that a CRF cat is approaching the edge of a precipice: the cat may approach the precipice very slowly, taking years to reach it; the cat may approach quite quickly; whichever way the cat approaches the precipice, it may be possible to grab the cat and pull him/her back even after he/ she has started to fall over the edge, and this could be done several times if you move quickly enough.
Good luck on your CRF journey.
Information taken from: http://www.felinecrf.org/
This link may also be useful: http://www.aht.org.uk/pdf/feline_kidney.pdf
The information is the opinion of the writer in the link to the website provided and is not a substitute for veterinary/professional advice.
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