Kidney Disease In Cats

Cat drinking water from tap

Cats are particularly prone to kidney damage and it has a variety of causes. Infections, cancers, exposure to toxins, and malfunction of the immune system may all be responsible for starting a slow process of damage, leading eventually to loss of function and kidney failure.

Kidney disease (or chronic renal failure) is the most common medical disease affecting cats. It is mostly seen in older cats with only about 10% of diagnoses in cats less than three years of age.

Excessive thirst generally leads to increased urination and in our feline friends this can be symptomatic of some serious disease including; kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and liver disease just to name a few.  

What do my cat’s kidneys do?

The kidneys play a very vital role in removing waste products from the blood stream, retaining essential nutrients such as potassium, maintain hydration and produce urine.

What is chronic renal failure?

Chronic renal failure is a condition where over time the function of the kidneys deteriorates resulting in the inability to remove the body’s waste matter and purify the blood. The kidneys have a large amount of capacity to perform their various functions so at least 70% of the kidneys need to be affected before any signs of disease are seen. In most cases this means that the damage to has been occurring over a number of months or even years before the failure of the kidneys is evident.

What are the possible signs of kidney disease I may notice:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat quality
  • Increased urination
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Incontinence
  • Excessive drinking
  • Vomiting

How is renal failure diagnosed?

Renal failure is usually diagnosed by a blood test that looks at the level of two waste products in the bloodstream in conjunction with a test that analysis the urine concentration. These tests help to determine the extent of the disease allowing your vet to proceed with the best course of treatment.

Can renal failure be prevented?

The risks associated with chronic renal failure can be minimised by maintaining good hydration and a high quality diet. While keeping good hydration, it is important not to force your pet to drink excessive amounts. There are many good filtering and flowing water bowls available that can help encourage good hydration. Once kidney disease is diagnosed there are many specific diets available which can help support the kidney to maintain good function. The key is early diagnosis – so make sure your pet is having regular screening tests!


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