About 90 percent of cat owners are not familiar with chronic kidney disease in cats, the Taiwanese Society of Feline Medicine said on Wednesday, adding that signs and symptoms of the disease include increased water consumption, frequent urination, lethargy and weight loss.
From 2012 to 2014, chronic kidney disease was the top or second leading cause of death for domestic cats, a survey conducted by the National Taiwan University School of Veterinary Medicine and the Taipei City Animal Protection Office showed.
To raise more awareness, the society last month conducted another survey of 640 cat owners nationwide to investigate how much they know about the disease, a health risk that increases with age.
About 60 percent of respondents believed that increased water consumption and urination are good, the society said.
However, this could signal kidney failure, which leads cats to drink more to compensate for increased body water loss, the society said, adding that cats usually only drink a little.
More than 60 percent of respondents did not know that increased rest time was a sign of chronic kidney disease, it said.
About 30 percent of respondents did not know that weight loss and variable appetite are changes associated with the disease, it said.
Although older cats are more at risk of kidney disease, younger cats should also receive a health checkup once a year, said veterinarian Lin Cheng-yi (林政毅), founder of the society, adding that cats older than seven should receive a checkup every six months.
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are barely noticeable in the initial stages, and it can only be diagnosed early with clinical tests, such as urine, blood and blood pressure tests, Lin said.
Parts of the kidneys that are damaged by kidney disease cannot recover, but proper medication and diet, and regular visits to a veterinary clinic, can slow the progression of the disease, he said.
The survey showed that 80 percent of respondents did not know how to care for cats with the disease.
Lin said owners of cats with kidney disease should ensure that their pets are well-hydrated at all times.
They could put more water bowls around the house, add flavors their cats enjoy to the water, or feed them water-rich foods, he added.
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