Q: I’ve had three cats in my life that have died at an older age of complications due to kidney disease. This is the fourth cat now I’ve had diagnosed with kidney disease with some new test, and she’s only 7 years old. Why do so many cats die of kidney disease? — B. S. C., Tacoma, WA
A: “We don’t know why so many older cats develop chronic kidney disease (CKD), but we’re trying to find out,” says Dr. Vicki Thayer, executive director of the nonprofit Winn Feline Foundation, which funds cat health studies. “The good news is that an early diagnosis may add to your cat’s lifespan, as well as to enhance quality of life.”
A new test, which is presumably the test you mention, can provide an earlier diagnosis of kidney than veterinarians ever could; the test is called Symmetric dimethylarginine or SDMA. The test is offered with the IDEXX regular blood chemistry panel.
Before SDMA, and likely with your previous cats, by the time kidney disease was discovered, 75 percent of kidney function was likely gone. Using SDMA testing, kidney disease is typically diagnosed far earlier, while the loss of function doesn’t yet affect quality of life.