The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Cat studies investigate kidney disease therapies

Pilot programmes trial use of products to reduce gut toxins and limit progress of disease.

Researchers are studying the effect of therapies designed to alleviate chronic kidney disease in cats.

They are to investigate ways to prevent toxins that develop in the gut of kidney disease patients from entering the bloodstream and worsening disease.

Scientists hope their studies will help limit the impact of chronic kidney disease, a common, debilitating, incurable condition that causes weight loss, vomiting and loss of appetite. It is estimated to affect at least 40 per cent of adult cats.

Their study will investigate three products designed to be added to food. Two of these comprise small carbon particles designed to bind to toxins in the gut, and the third is a probiotic supplement aimed at limiting the formation of gut toxins. The three products have been designed to cause no ill effects and are regularly given to pets as supplements or treatments.

Pilot studies

Initially, a small group of healthy cats will receive each treatment in turn, and will be closely monitored for any effects on their health or behaviour. Samples of the cats’ faeces and urine will be analysed during the study to check for any changes in the composition of microorganisms in the gut, which might impact on their health.

Following this, the second part of the study will involve cats with chronic kidney disease. Cat owners will have the option to administer one of the three products in their pet’s food, and all participating cats will be monitored for adverse effects, including urine and faecal testing before and after the trial.

The study, supported by the Fiona and Ian Russell Seed Corn Fund and the Clinical Study Fund of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, aims to show whether the treatments are effective in limiting the progression of kidney disease and in supporting the quality of life of affected cats.

Studies in people with kidney disease have shown that such products can reduce inflammation and alleviate loss of kidney function, but until now this has not been investigated in cats.

Analysis of cats’ urine and faeces throughout the studies will give insights into how such products might best be employed in managing the condition.

Chronic kidney disease is debilitating for many cats and significantly lessens their quality of life.

Silke SalavatiSenior Lecturer in Small Animal Internal Medicine

Simple interventions to bind toxins that originate in the guts of cats affected by chronic kidney disease, to limit the progress of the condition, may offer a viable route to alleviating the impact of the disease in millions of cats.

Marina DominguesResident in Small Animal Internal Medicine

Insights into how gut conditions impact on progress of chronic kidney disease could help the large number of animals affected.

Ana Fernandez GallegoResident in Small Animal Internal Medicine
About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies 

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos. 

The School comprises: 

The Roslin Institute 

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security 

The Roslin Innovation Centre 

The Hospital for Small Animals 

Equine Veterinary Services 

Farm Animal Services 

Easter Bush Pathology 

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education 

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.