CSU Vet hospital reaches out to prevent Chronic Kidney Disease in cats

English: Young street cats, Portugal.
English: Young street cats, Portugal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is helping picky cats with Chronic Kidney Disease.

A clinical study to test a new drug called Cerenia, an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medicine, is being tested on cats with stable CKD in attempt to for them to have a substantial appetite again.

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“We are looking for new treatment options,” said Jessica Quimby, researcher in the Cerenia clinical study. “There is not a lot (doctors) can do outside of kidney transplant (for the cats). So this drug helps keep them comfortable because they can live for many years, if diagnosed.”

Cats with CKD will not consistently eat, causing weight loss. The study is testing to see if Cerenia helps keep their appetite. According to Quimby, the study will look at the drug and see if they can apply it to the cats to help them eat, and feel, better.

“We are hoping to get them to eat, keep condition, and eat the special kidney food,” Quimby said. “If we can get them to eat, they will do better in the end.”

The study has been running for a year, with cats beginning to be recruited in the fall. The goal is to have 35 cats participating in the study before another year passes. As of press time, only five cats had actually participated, because of strict requirements to be in the study.

According to Quimby, cats must have stable CKD and not currently be experiencing complications, have a “picky” appetite and a creatinine — the ability to excrete waste product from the kidneys — between 2 and 5 mg/dl. Tests such as urinalysis, blood count and serum biochemistry profile are required to be considered for enrollment.

Bigara, a short-haired, black-and-white, mixed-breed kitty, was one of the possible candidates for the Cerina study.

“When we did get his lab work back he had elevated ALT that was thought to be from another appetite stimulant he was taking,” said Liz Anderson, Biagara’s owner. “So he was unable to participate in the study at this time. Had Bigara began the study, we would have monitored his daily food intake and his behavior to see if the med was helping and if nausea was indeed the reason for the decreased appetite.”

According to Anderson, she was hoping the Cerenia would improve Bigara’s quality of life by decreasing his nausea and increasing his appetite to keep his weight on — which is vitally important for a CKD cat.

“We were also hoping if this med was successful for Bigara, and other kitties in the study, it could be more readily used to help improve the lives of other cats living with CKD,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately Bigara was diagnosed recently with pancreatitis and his fragile kidneys could no longer keep up. He succumbed to his CKD on Feb. 26, 2013.”

For cats wanting to be in the study, if they are in Fort Collins, they can come to the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to get an initial evaluation, with no cost for the initial lab work. If they live outside of Fort Collins, they can go to their local vet and get the lab work sent to the VTH.

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Once the cat is accepted, the visits and lab work are free, but they need to have had lab work done recently to be considered for the study, Quimby said.

Researchers aren’t sure if CKD is breed or genetics related, and Quimby is hoping to do more research in the future, but they have linked the problem to age. Quimby says that cats more than 15 years old are likely to get small kidneys, and recommends that cats more than 10 years old get screened for CKD.

“I like the opportunity to find new ways to help cats,” Quimby said. “If we just accept what’s out there, there’s no progress. I enjoy finding new solutions and helping kitties with this disease.”

Collegian Writer Taylor Pettaway can be reached at news@collegian.com.