Feline Kidney Disease and Stem Cell Therapy

By February 11, 2019 August 10th, 2022 For Cats Only!


Welcome to the first entry in our blog, both Dr. Buchanan and I will add information that we think may be helpful, cutting edge or just plain fun.  Please feel free to give us feedback or if you have some thoughts that may help us provide better information to you.

So this is from the “this just in category”:

This abstract was accepted for presentation at the 2018 conference of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.  The title was Adipose-derived stem cell therapy for feline chronic kidney disease: a review of 40 clinical cases.  It was presented by Dr. Robert Harman from VetStem.  The paper starts by discussing that chronic renal (kidney) disease is likely the number 1 cause of illness and death in older cats.  The current therapies include fluid therapy, dietary manipulation, dialysis and in some cases transplantation.  Of course, most clients can not afford dialysis or kidney transplant.

This study looked at 40 cases of kidney disease treated with stem cells derived from fat tissue from the cat that was processed to concentrate the stem cells and were injected into the veins.  There were several criteria to be included in the study and several conditions that excluded a patient. The average age in the study was 12.2 years old, most were normal weight.  Each cat was treated with the stem cells 2 or 3 times and data was collected pre-treatment, day 180 and day 330.  Parameters that were monitored included BUN (nitrogen), and creatinine.  By day 180 BUN had improved by 15.9% and creatinine had improved by 23.5%.  This improvement appears to be statistically significant.  The improvement continued until the end point of the study at day 330.

Most importantly, there were no adverse events in the treated cats.

So what about the negatives of the study, the study did not have any untreated controls.  This makes it harder to determine if this would have been a population of cats that would have done ok without the stem cell treatment.  The study is also very small with only 40 patients so we could question the statistical analysis.

But, and I think this is very important, the limited study shows that this is a promising treatment for cats with kidney disease.  It is a very new and futuristic approach to a disease that has been frustrating veterinarians and cat owners for years.

Now what about dogs you ask?  Well I can tell you that we have treated one of the first dogs in the country who has congenital kidney damage.  We have only performed 1 treatment at the time of this post so I will keep you posted.  I do think that this will be a great addition to treatment for kidney disease.  I also think that it raises the question about obtaining the fat tissue while the cat is healthy- even during a routine procedure such as a spay or neuter or even a dental procedure.

We will begin to offer this treatment to our patients as one of many options that we can provide to improve the quality of life of your pets.  Ask us for more information and stay tuned for future posts.


  • Stem cell harvesting from fat is illegal, FDA doesn’t approve this technique. But you have a huge success with 40 success stories. It’s time for FDA to make different moves towards stem cell treatments and we already have received tremendous results from this.

    • hopewellah says:

      We have used the fat based stem cells on several patients and have had good results. The life spans have been improved over what would normally be expected. We are currently working with a patient that has renal dysplasia (congenital) and are just started the stem cell therapy. As this is a healthy young dog we hope to get great results.

      • Lynn Nelson says:

        Hi. We have a 1 yr old Bernese mountain dog that was just diagnosed with congenital renal dysplasia. They’re both irregular in shape in and in size. While they say we caught it early it’s advanced. His kidneys have mineralization. Would stem cell therapy help or work for him? I would be interested in talking if possible and understand there may be a consultation fee.

        • hopewellah says:

          Hi. We have been treating a patient with congenital dysplasia. We are using stem cells in conjunction with traditional care and she is doing very well. Please contact us to set up a consultation.

  • Hasan says:

    Can you please send me via email, any report of the animals you have treated with stem cells for ckd? I have a 12 y.o. cat and i am plnning to use alloegenic msc treatment for ckd. I would be glad if you can provide me with any useful information, or suggestions. Regards.
    Hasan Deniz
    Email: hd2211@columbia.edu

    • hopewellah says:

      Hi, As of now we have not treated any cats with CKD. We do have 1 dog that we are treating and she is doing very well. We are out over 1 year at this point. And she still continues to receive treatment for her condition.

  • Wai Kwan Ling says:

    How often and far apart are the stem cell therapies for this ckd dog?

    Do you have any experience/info on allogeneic stem cell therapy containing mesenchymal stem cells for dogs and cats?

    • Jerry Sheck says:

      The traditional recommendation for stem cell intervals is the initial injection given IV and a follow up in 14 days. After this we would suggest a single iv dose every 3-6 months depending upon the condition of the patient. There are additional studies on the human side for the use of stem cells in renal disease.

  • I have lost all my kitties from kidney disease. I am in my mid 70’s so you know I have many spaces in my heart for those that are no longer here. I now have 2 relatively young Persians with no evidence of kidney disease; however, it is just a matter of time. Can you please tell me where and what schools of medicine are researching or are using stem cell therapy in cats at present for this disease? I would be very appreciative of knowing so I may follow their success as time progresses. Can you provide this information please. Thank you. I do not have a website as I am a private owner.

    • Jerry Sheck says:

      Hi Shirley,
      We are so sorry for all of your losses. Kidney disease is truly one of the most debilitating and heartbreaking diseases that we treat. I would suggest that you consider a stem cell harvest procedure for your cats while they are young. If they are not spayed or neutered, we can harvest their fat and store it for future use. If they are a little older, we can harvest the fat in a quick procedure, this would ensure that the stem cells are available when they are needed. Additionally, the stem cells can be used to treat other conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Contact our office for additional information or to set up a consultation.

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