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Polycystic Kidney Disease

Cats affected by this disease have many cysts within the kidney filled with fluids. This enlages the kidney, reducing its ability to function properly. PKD is seen equally in males and females. Kittens are usually born with small fluid filled cysts on the kidneys. The cysts gradually increase in size and crowd out the normal kidney tissue. The disease is usually fatal.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is caused by a defective gene in Persians and exotic short-haired breeds. Every cat with the gene will have polycystic kidneys. Some of the clinical signs are depression, lack of or reduced appetite, excessive thirst, excessive urination, and weight loss.

Currently the only practical way to identify affected cats has been by ultrasound scanning of the kidneys when a kitten is at least 10 months old. At this age the screening has a 95% accuracy. Before that age, the cysts may be too small to accurately identify and a false clearance may be given. As the kidneys fail, only supportive measures can be provided to make the cat more comfortable and to try to slow down the progression of the disease through changes in the diet.

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