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Feline Chronic Kidney Disease Trial

Chronic kidney disease is one of the most common health conditions in older cats. It affects the majority of cats over the age of 10, and is a contributing factor to early mortal and reduced quality of life.

The SASH Clinical Research Team are currently enrolling cats for a chronic kidney disease trial. Research into this area can help to significantly improve outcomes for the many cats suffering from chronic kidney disease.


The aim of this study is to assess if a hydration supplement, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplement Hydra Care (Hydra Care), helps cats with chronic kidney disease. The supplement may help to improve the hydration of these cats and subsequently improve their body weight and condition, muscle condition, kidney function blood tests and overall quality of life.

Chronic kidney disease is common in older cats, affecting at least 30% to some degree. Cats typically get a substantial amount of their water intake from their food. Cats with chronic kidney disease can have a reduced appetite or nausea, which increases their risk of dehydration. Over time, even subtle dehydration could affect kidney function.

The study will be performed by SASH (the Small Animal Specialist Hospital) North Ryde, Australia’s largest and leading specialist and emergency veterinary hospital. SASH North Ryde is also an accredited research establishment, and the study protocol has been approved by an external ethics committee.

What’s involved?

Cats with chronic kidney disease will be invited to take part in the study. The cats taking part in the study will be randomly assigned to either the control group or the treatment group (which receives the PRO PLAN Veterinary Supplement Hydra Care). Hydra Care is a commercial liquid supplement which is offered to the cat in a separate bowl every day in addition to the cat’s normal food and water. The supplement is provided free of charge for the duration of the trial.

Preliminary Consultation

People who are interested in participating will be invited to a preliminary consultation where SASH Internal Medicine Vets will review the study protocol. They will also perform a full review of the medical records and cat’s medical history including diet and medications. Physical examination and blood pressure measurements will be done. Cats may be started on additional medications if required, as per recommended standard treatment guidelines (for example, blood pressure medication if needed). The costs of these medications are outside the scope of this study and hence would be borne by the owner as part of a standard treatment plan.

Specific kidney diets may be recommended. Once your cat has adapted to their preferred diet(s), it is recommended that they are fed the same diet throughout the trial. Some cats require diet variety to maintain a good appetite and body weight. For these cats, we recommend that the diet texture (wet /dry/mixture) is consistent throughout the trial.

Trial Commencement

At the start of the trial (2-4 weeks after the preliminary consultation), cats will have another consultation for a physical examination including blood pressure, blood and urine tests as well as have a mild sedation for an ultrasound examination of their kidneys, ureters and bladder. We will ask you to help us assess your cat’s quality of life using an online survey and to measure you cat’s water and Hydra Care consumption (for the treatment group) daily for 7 days after each consultation. Scales will be provided. The easiest method to achieve this would be to measure the water before you set it down for the day and then measure it at the end of the day again. For the Hydra Care, provide a single sachet per day, then weigh the remaining liquid after 24 hours.

3 and 6 Month Consultations

A full consultation, including physical examination, blood pressure and blood and urine tests will be repeated at 3 months and 6 months after the trial commencement date. Quality of life scores and fluid intake will again be assessed as above.


The costs associated with the preliminary consultation, trial commencement, and the 3- and 6-month consultations are covered by the trial and are therefore at no cost to the owner.

All costs associated with the hospitalisation, treatment (e.g. medication) or unrelated consultations remain the responsibility of the owner.

Why get involved

Chronic kidney disease is common in older cats and is a debilitating disease. Chronic or mild dehydration could exacerbate chronic kidney disease. The addition of a hydration supplement, if shown to be beneficial, can be a non-invasive way to improve the quality of life of cats suffering chronic kidney disease. By participating, you will be contributing to further the medical knowledge for this serious condition. If you chose to participate, regardless of whether you are in the control or treatment group, your cat will receive a number of free consultations and tests from some of Australia’s leading veterinarians, who will be able to provide advice about your cat’s health and treatment.

SASH is the largest veterinary specialist hospital in Australia and with its large case load and broad range of veterinary specialist is in a unique place to contribute to veterinary research and the continued improvement of veterinary care. Research is only carried out with the consent of owners, follows a no-harm approach and is approved by an external ethics committee.

If you are interested in one or more of your cats being involved, please email our research team at

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