Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) is a breakdown product of the amino acid arginine and is excreted exclusively via the kidneys. SDMA is a highly specific biomarker for cat’s kidney function. According to the manufacturer IDEXX, it can identify CKD in cats at an early stage, when 60% of the nephrons are still functional and creatine elevation or clinical symptoms are not yet present.

The advantage of SDMA compared to creatinine is that it isn’t influenced by other factors such as muscle mass. It also increases at a very early stage of CKD, because it is highly correlated with a decrease in the functional capacity of the kidneys – the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

A study on the SDMA test (Hall et al. 2014) demonstrated that it was able to identify CKD on average 17 months earlier than creatinine blood levels.

The SDMA test can identify CKD at an early stage.

An SDMA level of >14 µg/dl is indicative of CKD.

Earlier detection of CKD may contribute to better and more targeted treatment, with the potential of prolonging and improving the quality of life of a cat. I, therefore, personally recommend taking your cat for annual kidney check-ups from the age of 5 years.