How to feed a picky cat with kidney failure

My senior cat has kidney failure and is on sub-Q fluids and a special diet. Problem is, he doesn’t like the canned food! Is there a low protein wet food for a senior cat you can recommend?

Cats and small dogs often have picky appetites, especially when they are ill. As a holistically trained veterinarian of over 30 years, I have found the commercial low protein diets are quite unpalatable, and are not the most helpful for any illness. For a cat with kidney failure, I actually recommend feeding a raw meat diet. Yes, that does sound like opposite thinking, since it is high protein. But fresh meat is so much more digestible for carnivorous cats that less of the damaging protein ends up in the blood stream for the kidneys to process.

There are many different companies now making frozen raw food diets. Many have sample packs so you can discover what your cat likes to eat. Again, try not to worry about the protein level. It is more important to be giving the sub-Q fluids and maintaining weight.

Injectable B vitamins will stimulate appetite and can be given in the IV line. Giving oral vitamin B can also help.

Some treats will get cats to eat any food. Nu-cat vitamins, bonito flakes, tuna or clam juice and even tomato sauce will often tempt cats. Many stores and integrative veterinary clinics can give you samples to test on your furry friend.

Offering different human foods may also help coax your cat to eat. This is a good strategy for everyone to start with kittens so they will have a broad appetite as they age. Avoid chocolate, grapes, raisins and onions – which most cats don’t like anyway.

If you feel the need to stay with low protein canned foods, you can use the above treats and the foods your cat used to eat (no dry please, as it stresses the kidneys) to tempt her appetite.

As far as fluids are concerned, be sure you are warming them before giving them to your cat. You can coil the line into a mug of very hot water midway down the line. Be sure to empty the cold fluids from the line before starting the administration.

Finally, the very best way to assure a long life for your cat with kidney disease is to begin now to work with an integrative veterinarian who can offer acupuncture, homeopathy, Reiki, Flower Essences, Chiropractic, Quantum Touch, laser and many more modalities.



Veterinarian Dr. Christina Chambreau graduated from the University of Georgia Veterinary College in 1980. She is a founder of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, was on the faculty of the National Center for Homeopathic Summer School and has been the holistic modality adjunct faculty liaison for the Maryland Veterinary Technician Program. Dr. Chambreau is author of Healthy Animal’s Journal, co-author of the Homeopathic Repertory: A Tutorial, and former Associate Editor of IVC Journal.