Alternative to Hills Science Diet KD

michelle_phxazNovember 17, 2010

I have a cat with kidney issues and she was prescribed Hill's KD food, however the price is starting to become unaffordable. It is $30 for an 8lb bag, and we have three cats that eat it (non-free feeding is not an option) so it is really expensive.

Is there a good alternative to the Hill's KD diet?


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There are a lot of kidney friendly foods - though I don't know how much cheaper they are. I learned a lot about that kind of thing on the Yahoo CRF forum when I had a CRF cat. They had a link with information about foods that were good for cats with kidney problems. Unfortunately I can't remember any of the specifics any more.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 7:21PM
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If your other cats are not having kidney problems, I would NOT allow them to eat the K/d- it is too low protein for normal cats.

Also I have still not been convinced that k/d is appropriate unless cat has hyperphosphatemia, protein-losing nephropathy, uremia, or hyperkalamia.

You may be able to make the food cheaper from fresh wholesome ingredients. Ask your vet to get a recipe from The vet has to get the recipe because of your cat's disease. Again, I would NOT feed healthy cats a diet made for kidney disease.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 9:19PM
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I had/have the same problem as you- CRF cat and others and free-feeding is necessary.

At the Tanya feline CRF site (google it) she has a list (or link to) of commercial cat foods and how they compare to KD as far as protein and phospherous. I found a high quality commercial food (still expensive, but way cheaper than KD) that was comparable to KD where those 2 factors were concerned. It also happened to be a senior diet, which was just fine for my other cat who was a senior.

There is also a non-RX kidney diet for cats, I believe it is under the name Hi-Tor Neo Diet. It is wet food and I always had to order it online when I was feeding it.

For a while I made a homemade chicken and potato food. I found the recipe online and would make it in a big batch and freeze it in 1 cup ball jars. That became too much of an undertaking later, and while she ate it, it wasn't something she loved.

Eventually, we settled her on a high quality, high protein diet and she has been one who has done much better with that. I don't know how often that is the case, so I wouldn't tell you to start feeding your cat that way, but it might be something to research. We came to this conclusion after she had a bad crash in Oct 2007 and I decided that her quality of life was way more important than quantity, and started feeding her high protein foods that she loved and made her happy. She got much better on that diet and her blood work has been consistently better on the higher protein diet. I can't say that I understand it at all, but have heard of others having similar experiences.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 10:23AM
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If I had to do it over again with our old CRF kitty, Casey, I would NOT have put her on the k/d diet when the vet recommended it. She lost so much muscle that she got weak and never fully recovered even after going back to her regular food. We decided to ignore the blood work and just give her quality of life (which to her meant her usual food). In the end, we did have to give her sub-q fluids, and I tried my best to get her to eat canned food, but she lived 3-4 more years past the trial of k/d food until just 2 months short of her 21st b'day. Make the kitty happy--in the end, that's what we're here for.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 10:32AM
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I have a senior cat with kidney disease, diagnosed about 6 years ago. At that time, he had about 33% kidney function. We started with the Hills Science Diet KD, but my vet at that time told me he wasn't convinced that KD was beneficial, and was even starting to think that perhaps it might even be detrimental. Since my cat hated it, and my vet wasn't enthusiastic, I stopped using the KD, and switched my cat to Evo, canned only. In the intervening time, my vet switched first to recommending only CANNED high-quality food, no more dried for cats with impaired kidney function. Then he took it a step further and is recommending only canned for ALL cats, including my young 2-year-olds.

My cat is now 19 years old, and still feisty. Truly, I think the biggest difference is getting him off dry food, and only feeding canned. Canned is also better because older cats tend to get constipated with a dry diet. My cat's kidney function at the last test was about 29%, which is not much deterioration from 33% in 6 years for a 19-year-old cat. He is on medication too of course. I know your question is about finding a lower-budget alternative, and canned is probably more expensive, but what about the savings in vet bills? And of course, in the quality of life for your cats.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 12:17PM
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I would hope that any one who has pets would take the best care of them they can. Free feeding cats (poor quality??)dry food is not the current standard of good care for cats. They need wet food - either canned or fresh/frozen. It can prevent many kidney problems and appears to be the best food for kitties that have problems.

Best of luck to your kitty.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 2:03PM
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Thanks all! I should have mentioned that we also feed them canned food 2-3 times a day, KD canned mixed with "junk" food (9-Lives which they all love) so they do get enough wet food as well.

We did a lot of research and everything pointed to it being just fine to feed the healthy cats the KD as well, they are both thriving on it.

I should have really said that I was hoping to find a more readily available food, we have to order it from our vet and lately the company has either forgotten to ship it or (the last two times) sent it in Canine formula. I am totally out of dry food and was hoping this awesome forum would give me some quick results and you have. I will look for a kidney friendly food at the local pet/tack store.

Thank you all from myself, Lily, Cali and Minnie LaRue.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 6:07PM
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Michelle_phxaz - you mentioned "a lot of research and everything pointed to it being just fine to feed the healthy cats the KD as well". Can you be more specific as to your sources for that research? Everything I have read says just the opposite. So does my vet. Meghane also posted above that KD is bad choice for healthy cats, and she is a vet. While you say they are "thriving on it", I think you are setting up for future high vet bills, since the problems with these KD diets won't show up right away.

Anyway, my vet feels that "kidney friendly cat food" is a marketing campaign by Hills, Purina, etc. that has been very successful at making them money, but not successful in prolonging the well-being of CRF cats. According to my vet, the KD and similar diets from other manufacturers have no merit or basis in veterinary science. Better to feed a high quality high-protein, no-chemical food which is more like the cats' natural diet.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 6:47PM
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Unless your kidney cat has hyperphosphatemia, hyperkalemia, protein-losing nephropathy, or uremia there is no reason to feed a kidney diet. And if your cat actually had one of those conditions and you were mixing 9 Lives with the K/D you're still wasting your money because you're negating the reason to feed the K/D in the first place. If your cat does not have any of those conditions, stop wasting money on the prescription diet that you are ruining anyway and buy a higher quality canned food for all the cats. Look for something without grains like Wellness, EVO, Natural Balance, Wysong. That way, all of your cats will be on a healthy diet AND you will save quite a bit of money. Plus those foods are available at the pet store (although Wysong is hard to find), and you can switch around if for some reason they don't have exactly what you want.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 8:16PM
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Meghane - well said. I hope the OP listens. I am a relatively new cat owner who did a great deal of research into foods when I got my cat. I am amazed at the many folks who think they know what is best for their cats but are a bit misguided. My adopted, scrawny Burmese kitty has been transformed into a beautiful, perfect-weight healthy lover girl eating EVO, Wellness and Avoderm. Her only problems are too much energy and attitude - both of which I love.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 6:02PM
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Well my cat was just diagnosed with high blood pressure, heart murmur, kidney disease, and she's starting to go blind to the high blood pressure. If my vet says she needs to be on the KD diet for the kidney disease then I'm going to do it no matter how much it cost's!!! I want my cat to get healthy and stay healthy for many years to come!!!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 5:17AM
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