Looking to help aging kitty with kidney issues
September 13, 2016 10:33 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are looking for an alternative to Hills Science Diet K/D dry food (formulated for cats with kidney issues).

One of our two calico cats, Flossie (obligatory cat photo), has been having kidney issues over the past year - at her last exam, her kidney function was down by a couple of points, indicating the early stages of renal failure. The vet placed her on a special diet - Hills Science Diet K/D dry food. She does like the food, but we would like to find something comparable that is grain-free and isn't as expensive. We're ok with prescription foods if need be, but if we could find one that didn't require a vet's prescription that would be fantastic.

We've looked over the options on a number of sites - Amazon, Drs. Foster&Smith, Petsmart, Chewy.com and others - with no real success. I'm hoping someone here on AskMe has had similar issues in the past and can make a good recommendation. I searched other questions here on Ask, about cat food and cats with renal failure, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. If I did in fact miss something, please feel free to let me know. I appreciate any advice you folks can offer.

NOTE: I linked the cat photo from my Dropbox account, and it seems to work fine when I preview. If it doesn't show up, let me know and I'll upload it elsewhere.
posted by Roger Pittman to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
K/D really worked the best for our kidney issues kitty. Are you doing the subcutaneous fluids as well?
also our vet suggested a powder you put on the food to help remove toxins from their blood stream. we found mixing up the K/D with other dry food worked as well. Sorry you are going through this, it is a rough ride.
posted by evilmonk at 10:41 AM on September 13, 2016

We've had great luck with Royal Canin Urinary SO. I don't know if it's grain free or not, but it was effective in moving Ziggy's kidney levels from "failure state" to "high end of normal". Now he's back to his pizza stealing ways.
posted by slagheap at 11:01 AM on September 13, 2016

My kitty also has bladder and kidney issues, and her grain free food exacerbated them. Switching to Hill's (the exact kind you're using) changed her quality of life dramatically. Won't go back to grain free again unless another pet really needs it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:01 AM on September 13, 2016

Oh, and it is prescription only and kind of pricy :( I know that's the wrong direction but maybe a helpful data point for you.
posted by slagheap at 11:03 AM on September 13, 2016

Renal diets are designed to be low in protein and phosphorus. If you take out the protein AND the grains, you don't have much left.
posted by bgrebs at 11:04 AM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Given that cats can be really...not enthusiastic...about renal diets--my late kitty responded with great sternness to the very idea of Royal Canin--you may want to stick with what's working right now.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:12 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've spent a LOT of time on this site (Tanya's Feline CKD site) which talks about various tactics for feeding kidney diseased cats. Cats are hard, it's so important that they eat and they seem to hate that kidney diet food. I've tried going through the list and trying the lower phosphorous foods to see if there's something that my cat will eat that isn't the RX stuff (which he won't touch). We had some luck with Wellness Divine Duos With Beef Pâté & Diced Chicken Liver, which you can get at petco etc. Her list of phosphorous content in USA wet food is here.
posted by ch1x0r at 11:32 AM on September 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

My cat HATED the kidney diets... all of them. It's more important for them to eat than for them to eat the perfect food. So I gave her the lowest phosphorus foods on Tanya's list that she would eat. It's very hard to find the canned food values chart on Tanya's site, but I've found it to be useful.
posted by answergrape at 12:17 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Low protein diets will be easier on the kidneys, so grain-free isn't the best choice for your kitty. I had my guy on Purina NF for a number of years, he liked it fine. All the kidney diets are going to be prescription/only at the vet's office though.
posted by impishoptimist at 1:04 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

The site that ch1x0r linked to Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease has everything you need to know about feeding your cat, and more. I use the nutritional analysis spreadsheet to pick foods, and my 14-year old has been on a mix of the Hill's k/d and Wellness Duos for a year now.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:19 PM on September 13, 2016

My wife and I have gone over the options presented, and we're going to stick with what is working for right now. Flossie does eat the dry food we're currently using, without any major issues. She's due for an exam later this year, and if her kidney functions continue to decline then we'll revisit the question. Thank you all for your advice!
posted by Roger Pittman at 8:35 AM on September 14, 2016

Please inquire with your vet whether your sweet cat is a candidate for calcitriol.

Also, Hi-Tor Neo is a kidney-friendly cat food that is non-prescription and has a better kidney profile than a lot of the other options.

My CKD cat did fine on this combo of med and food for almost three years. Seriously, please look into treatment with calcitriol.
posted by vers at 4:39 PM on September 15, 2016

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