The Rise of IHC
Mouse - Feline IHC Poster Cat
Feline Idiopathic Hypercalcemia is an increasing problem rather than just an increasing recognition of an old problem. It is not understood what causes it or why it is becoming prevalent. Many experts believe that acidifying, magnesium-restricted diets lead to IHC in genetically predisposed cats, perhaps due to the calcium resorption from bones. Diet may also be the answer to its management. "Idiopathic (unexplained) Hypercalcemia has been increasingly recognized in cats since 1992. Usually striking young to middle-aged cats, the mild to moderate hypercalcemia has no definable cause following standard diagnostics." Chew 2001
Many cases of Idiopathic Hypercalcemia are diagnosed almost as a fortuitous side result from pre-surgical or pre-dental blood work, or for another reason such as illness unrelated to the IHC for which the cat has been taken to the veterinarian or a routine blood test. IHC rarely shows symptoms when in the mild to moderate stage. Cats are often asymptomatic especially in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, this condition is typically not clinically recognized, as cats with progressed renal disease usually show a high blood calcium level. It should be noted that kidney failure causes hypercalcemia and hypercalcemia causes kidney failure. It is difficult to determine which came first, but kidney failure tends to progress rapidly in the presence of hypercalcemia. In some instances, hypercalcemia has been associated with calcium oxalate urolithiasis (bladder stones), and many of these affected cats have been fed acidifying diets.
This website is for the owner who has a diagnosed Idiopathic Hypercalcemic cat. I will discuss briefly, the tests and diagnostics associated with this diagnosis and then concentrate on the management of this disease. Although, little research has produced any definitive solutions, diet change and/or additional medications may help to delay or halt its deleterious effects on the cat's kidneys and other organ systems. With proper management, many cats lead happy normal lives for many years after initial diagnosis.