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Caring for a Cat with Chronic Kidney Disease (2nd Edition), Sarah Caney, Published by Vet Professionals, 2011, paperback, 68 pages, Price: £9.99 (print), £7.70 (PDF), ISBN: 978-0-9556913-8-6

Feline chronic kidney disease is so common in small animal general practice that it's easy to forget the management of this condition remains a hot topic. Thanks to relatively recently introduced interventions such as prescription diets, phosphate binders and ACE inhibitors, the prognosis for feline patients diagnosed with CKD has never been better.

But this can be hard to impart to owners who may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis of CKD in their pet. Feline specialist Sarah Caney's book, Caring for a Cat with Chronic Kidney Disease, is a comprehensive, up-to-date guide aimed at owners seeking to best manage their cat's condition.

As with other guides in the Vet Professionals series, this book is divided into five sections. The first addresses the emotional aspects of a CKD diagnosis, including questions owners may have about life expectancy, quality of life and the need to medicate their cat.

Section 2 addresses the science of CKD, including the normal functions of the kidney, causes of congenital and acquired kidney disease and metabolic sequelae including renal secondary hyperparathyroidism. The rationale for diagnostic tests – from urine specific gravity to blood pressure measurement, is explained in detail with reference to the pathophysiology of the disease. International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) staging is explained in a straightforward manner. Treatment options for CKD and its complications are explained at a level which is accessible to cat owners. This section is particularly helpful as a resource for veterinarians counselling owners about therapeutic options for a particular patient.

Section 3 provides a single case illustration of a cat with early-onset CKD. The account is largely written by the owner and while detailed this section would be enhanced with additional cases, for example a cat with later onset CKD or cases utilising varying management strategies.

Section 4, the briefest section, provides some pointers for owners wishing to discuss CKD with their veterinarian.

Section 5 provides a discussion of the assessment of quality of life in cats with CKD and advice to owners regarding euthanasia of their pet.

The guide is illustrated throughout with colour photographs showing procedures that the owner might not otherwise see, such as cystocentesis and blood pressure measurement, as well as images demonstrating clinical signs such as ptyalism and weight loss. In addition, tables and diagrams support the content and are useful for veterinarians and nurses to refer to in discussions with owners.

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While the guide gives detailed instructions on encouraging cats with CKD to increase their fluid and caloric intake, readers are referred to the publisher's website (www.vetprofessional.com) for additional resources that can be downloaded at no cost.

This subject is clearly one the author is passionate about, with the Guide dedicated to the memory of her own cat who died of the condition. Her empathy for owners of affected cats shines through.

As all veterinarians know, CKD is a complex, progressive condition. Management of CKD is optimised when the owner and veterinarian collaborate in decision making. The Guide is an excellent resource for aiding owners in coming to informed decisions with their veterinarian and should be compulsory reading for owners of newly diagnosed cats. It is also a quick, easy-to-read review for veterinarians, veterinary students and nurses seeking to improve patient care.

While ensuring that owner expectations are realistic, the Guide reminds is that there is much we can do to improve and maintain the quality of life of cats with CKD over an increasingly long period of time.

Anne Fawcett

Anne Fawcett is a small animal general practitioner based at Sydney Animal Hospitals Inner West. She is a lecturer at the University of Sydney and contributes to a variety of publications including The Veterinarian Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald.