Kidney Disease in Cats
with kidney problems have a reduced ability to excrete waste products into
their urine, leading to a potentially toxic build-up in the bloodstream. While
some kidney problems occur suddenly, chronic kidney disease shows up more
slowly over a period of time. Timely veterinary assessment with ongoing
supportive care and dietary management can allow some cats with kidney problems
to maintain an adequate quality of life.
What Causes Kidney Problems?
The following are some causes of both chronic and acute kidney
- High blood pressure
- Immunological disease
- Congenital or hereditary disease
- Decreased blood flow to kidneys
- Kidney trauma
- Urinary obstructions such as kidney stones
- Exposure to toxins, especially antifreeze
What Are Some Signs of Kidney Problems?
If your cat shows any of the following symptoms, please take
her to see your veterinarian.
- Appetite loss/decrease
- Weight loss
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Lethargy or depression
- Change in water consumption
- Pain in the kidney area
- Litter box aversion
- Mouth ulcers
- Bad breath
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Urinating in abnormal places or pain when urinating
- Stumbling, acting drunk
Which Cats Are Prone to Kidney Problems?
Kidney disease is most prevalent in older cats, but can occur
in cats of any age. Cats can be born with abnormal kidneys that never function
properly. Some breeds, like Persians, are predisposed to such hereditary kidney
Additionally, outdoor cats run the risk of acute problems
because they have more chance of exposure to toxins that can cause kidney
failure, namely antifreeze.
How Are Kidney Problems in Cats Diagnosed?
There are various ways to determine if a cat has kidney
disease. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and take blood
and urine samples to see if there is a problem with your pet’s kidneys.
Radiographs, ultrasound, blood pressure measurement or biopsy of the kidney may
also be performed.
How Are Kidney Problems in Cats Treated?
It may be difficult to determine a specific cause of kidney
disease. Emergency treatment and hospitalized care may be needed depending on
the stage of kidney failure a cat is in. Acute kidney disease can sometimes be
caught early on, when there is minimal damage to the kidneys. In some cases,
long-term supportive treatment is beneficial. The following are possible
- Treatment of underlying cause of kidney failure (e.g. antifreeze toxicity,
- Drugs to enhance urine production
- Therapeutic diet
- Management of electrolyte abnormalities
- Fluid therapy
- Correction of anemia
- Medication for high blood pressure, vomiting or gastrointestinal
- Kidney transplant
Should Cats with Kidney Problems Be Fed a Special Diet?
Feeding your cat a special diet will not cure kidney disease,
but managing your cat’s intake of protein, phosphorous and sodium can help
diminish symptoms and add to your pet’s overall health and longevity. There are
many commercially available veterinary diets for cats with chronic kidney
Please remember, changes in your cat’s diet should not be made abruptly.
Speak to your vet about gently transitioning your cat to a new food.