Best Natural Food To Support Cats with Kidney Disease

Written by: Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM

Is There a Homemade or Natural Diet That Can Support the Health of Cats with Kidney Failure?


I have a kitty, Sandy Paws, dealing with renal challenges. I have had her successfully on Sub Qs (every 4 days) and a great Omega oil. Please render any other recommendations you may have. She is 10 or 11 years old, and just holds at about 7.1 pounds.


More than ever, it seems, many pets are suffering from kidney (renal) damage and failure. This may be partly due to some pet food recalls that harmed so many pets, whose kidneys will never fully recover. However, kidney disease was already common, especially in older cats.

In cats, kidney disease can develop for two main reasons:

  1. Being fed only or mostly dry food, which is extremely dehydrating and puts a great burden on their kidneys. Even though you’ll see these cats drinking water, they make up only half the intake a cat eating a natural wet cat food, raw or homemade diet would take in.

  2. Receiving unnecessary booster vaccines for feline distemper (panleukopenia). The virus in this vaccine is commonly grown in a culture of feline kidney cells. When the vaccine is injected, kidney proteins from the culture fluid cause antibodies to form against them; these antibodies cross-react with the cat’s own kidneys and can set up a low-grade chronic inflammation. Every repeated booster can worsen this inflammation, possibly leading to cell destruction, scarring, and ultimately kidney failure.

The same potential troubles can apply to canine vaccines. All vaccines are grown in some type of cell culture; canine, feline and calf cell cultures are commonly used. One study showed that every vaccinated puppy produced antibodies that cross-reacted with its own tissues, including red blood cells and connective tissue such as collagen.

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Low-protein diets are commonly used to help maintain normal kidney function. The real reason for this is because meat is high in phosphorus, and it is phosphorus that is the culprit (it combines with calcium and further damages the kidneys). However the scientific support for this approach is much stronger for dogs than for cats. It is also important to remember that high protein diets do not cause kidney disease.

The quality of the food can also be extremely important. Many "veterinary" pet foods are made from poor quality ingredients: by-products, grains, and meat substitutes. It can be especially important to feed your pet the very best natural ingredients if they have health considerations.

Most high-quality commercial foods have fairly high levels of protein, so a homemade diet may be your best option. Here’s a couple of sample recipes:

Homemade Recipes to Support Normal Function and Health of Kidneys in CatsFor Cats:

  • 1/4 cup chopped or ground chicken breast
  • 1 cup cooked white rice (long-grain or basmati)
  • 1 Tablespoon Omega-3 fish oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt substitute (potassium chloride)
  • 500 mg calcium (tablet or capsule without magnesium, vitamin D, or bonemeal)
  • Feline multi-vitamin
  • 250 mg taurine

For Dogs (per 20 pounds of body weight):

  • 1 large chopped hard-boiled egg
  • 2 cups cooked white rice (long-grain or basmati)
  • 1 Tablespoon Omega-3 fish oil
  • 500 mg calcium (tablet or capsule)
  • Canine multi-vitamin

Certainly, getting these animals off dry food can be a crucial component because it’s vital to keep these pets well-hydrated. Giving subcutaneous (“sub-Q”) fluids at home can also help support hydration levels.

Natural cat vitamins and supplements can support normal renal function and health. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important. It should come from wild fish (not farmed salmon) and contain mostly or only Omega-3s. Omega-6s, however, may contribute to inflammation, which is of course not what you want. Antioxidants can also help maintain a normal inflammatory response.

Recent research suggests that adding extra probiotics to the diet can help maintain normal kidney function. Digestive enzymes can also be beneficial because they support normal digestive function.


If you have young, healthy pets in your home, make sure they are on an excellent natural diet (canned, raw, or homemade). It may also be helpful to add  appropriate supplements including probiotics, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

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