Kidney Disease Symptoms in Cats
Although many signs of kidney disease are the same as
those for any problem with the urinary tract, there may be some differences. Cats with kidney disease may
show these symptoms:
- Increased drinking and urination (polydipsia and polyuria)
- Urination outside the litter box
- Decreased or even complete lack of urination
- Blood in the urine
- Loss of appetite, probably due to nausea
- Weight loss
- Pain in the lower back area
- Sitting hunched or walking stiffly
- Poor haircoat, partly due to decreased grooming
- Ulcers in the mouth and/or drooling
- High blood pressure, possibly with associated retinal damage
Pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection of the kidney and renal pelvis (the
urinary collection system). It usually ascends from an infection in the
bladder. Occasionally, it is blood-borne.
Acute pyelonephritis begins with fever, vomiting, and pain in the
kidney area (the lower back). A stiff-legged gait and a hunched posture are
characteristic signs. The cat’s urine is often bloody.
Chronic pyelonephritis is an insidious disease that may or may not be
preceded by signs of acute infection. When the disease is of long duration, you
will see weight loss and signs of kidney failure. If it is
diagnosed before irreversible changes occur in the kidneys (that is, during a
regular health checkup), treatment may prevent complications, or at least slow
the progression of the disease.
Treatment: The cat’s urine should be cultured. Antibiotics that concentrate in
the urine will be selected by your veterinarian based on bacterial sensitivity
testing. Chronic pyelonephritis should be treated for at least six weeks. Many
cats will require dietary adjustments. Most cats will need added fluid
therapy-this may be done in the veterinary hospital intravenously or at home
with subcutaneous injections.
Nephritis and Nephrosis
Nephritis and nephrosis are a group of diseases of the kidneys that produce
scarring and kidney failure. Many cats with these conditions also have high
blood pressure and a tendency to develop blood clots. Abdominal ultrasound and
a kidney biopsy may be required to make an exact diagnosis.
Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys, regardless of cause. Chronic
interstitial nephritis is perhaps the most common form, but even this may not
be a single disease, but rather, the result of various toxins, drugs, poisons,
or viruses. In cats with this condition, the kidneys become small and scarred
due to repeated insults.
Glomerulonephritis is an inflammatory disease affecting the filtering
mechanism of the kidneys. The disease appears to be related to the cat’s immune
system, and is found in association with feline leukemia, feline infectious
peritonitis, feline progressive polyarthritis, some types of infections, and
certain types of cancer. This tends to be a
disease of cats in their prime, with the mean age about 4 years old.