Ragdoll cats and kidney disease. A discussion.

Ragdoll cats are one of the world’s most popular purebred cats today; well suited to a full-time indoor life, it is said. That doesn’t mean that their minds don’t need stimulating in an enriched environment. Kidney disease is prevalent among all domestic cats as an illness which not infrequently occurs in old age and also not infrequently can cause death. As a side issue, there are discussions about the role the dry cat food might play in respect of kidney health because it can cause mild dehydration which can have an impact upon urinary tract health. Combine that with a secretary indoor life and you may expose cat to problems concerning kidney health. That is a layperson’s assessment.

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

So, what’s the position with respect to Ragdoll cats and kidney disease? When you search for information on this topic, the two top Google Scholar articles which date from 2012 and 2013, tell us that the Ragdoll cat, according to these tests, is not predisposed to developing kidney disease any more than any other domestic cat (on my considered interpretation).

Study 1

The first scientific study I looked at is published on SAGE Journals and it is titled: “Prospective evaluation of healthy Ragdoll cats for chronic kidney disease by routine laboratory parameters and ultrasonography”. Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/1098612X13477415

The scientists concluded that Ragdoll cats were predisposed to “segmental cortical lesions”. They suggested that this may indicate a health problem but they only found kidney dysfunction in 1/7 Ragdoll cats in the study of which there were 133. They decided that it wasn’t necessary for veterinarians to perform creatinine level tests to check for kidney function, apparently having decided that this breed is not predisposed to kidney failure.

RELATED: Taylor Swift explains how she ended up adopting her Ragdoll cat Benjamin Button

Study 2

The second scientific study I looked at is published on the Wiley Online Library, entitled: “Screening of Ragdoll cats for kidney disease: a retrospective evaluation”. Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-5827.2012.01254.x

The scientists checked the kidney performance of 244 healthy Ragdoll cats. They found that seven of the cats were positive for polycystic kidney disease. Also, 21 were suspected of having chronic kidney disease and eight had abnormalities. Some older cats had chronic kidney disease which is normal and therefore they had high urea and creatinine concentrations.

125 of the cats were genetically tested and they were negative for polycystic kidney disease. They state that “ultrasonographic findings compatible with chronic kidney disease were observed in almost 10% of cats”. That means that one in 10 of the cats might have had kidney disease and greater than 3% had a low prevalence of polycystic kidney disease.

They could not conclude that Ragdoll cats were predisposed to kidney disease.

My comment after reading the studies is that the Ragdoll Cat is neither more predisposed or less predisposed to developing chronic kidney disease in old age than any other domestic cat in the non-purebred population.

Running counter to my findings using the studies is a statement on the PDSA website about the Ragdoll Cat in which they state that, “The potential health problems that Ragdolls are prone to include polycystic kidney disease [PKD]”. They also mention HCM. They don’t quote any sources for the information regarding PKD. It appears to be inaccurate.

It may interest readers to know that the purebred cat most predisposed to developing PKD is the Persian. In one study it was found that 45% of Persian cats had PKD (click for Persian health). The shorthaired variety of the Persian cat, the Exotic Shorthair, was affected to an even worse extent at 50% of the cats reviewed. In this study there were four Ragdoll cats but these are not mentioned in the summary and therefore I will presume that they were not found to be suffering from PKD.

RELATED: Ragdoll cat the most popular breed in Australia because they are good indoor cats

P.S. If a reader of this article has an issue with my interpretation of the findings of these studies, I’d welcome a comment and we can discuss the matter. Thanks.

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