Cat Kidney Disease

Cat kidney disease is a common condition in cats, especially those that are older.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from the blood and removing it from the body through urine.

When they are not functioning properly, toxins can build up in the blood and cause serious health problems.

Cat Kidney Disease

Cat Kidney Disease

Symptoms of cat kidney disease include weight loss, increased thirst, increased urination, loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy.

Treatment usually involves dietary changes, fluids to help maintain hydration levels, and medications to reduce inflammation in the kidneys.

If left untreated, cat kidney disease can be fatal.

There are also things that you can do to help prevent your cat from developing this condition, such as feeding them a high-quality diet and making sure they stay well hydrated.

What is cat kidney disease?

A common disease in the feline world, renal disease – or kidney failure – is a health issue very important for cat owners to understand. The kidneys are two small organs located on either side of the spine, in the middle of the back. They remove waste from the blood and maintain chemical balances that are necessary to keep our cats healthy.

The kidneys filter around 20 per cent of the body’s blood, regulate body water and electrolyte balance, and help regulate arterial pressure and acid-base balance. They also regulate the excretion of calcium, the production of vitamin D, important body minerals and produce erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. The kidneys remove waste products and chemicals through excretion in the urine. If this vital organ is not functioning normally, there are a lot of systemic consequences.

The most common cause of kidney disease is ageing. As cats get older, their kidneys gradually lose the ability to function properly.

Cat Kidney Disease

How is cat kidney disease diagnosed?

Cat kidney disease can be diagnosed through a variety of different tests, including urinalysis, blood tests, and imaging scans. These tests help to assess the overall health of the kidneys and determine the severity of the disease. If left untreated, cat kidney disease can cause serious health problems and may even be fatal.

If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease, there are several things you can do to help keep them comfortable and improve their prognosis. Good nutrition will help keep your cat’s body tissues strong and healthy, keep them feeling good, and possibly slow the progression of the disease. Feeding your cat a diet formulated for cats with reduced kidney function can make a difference in the health of your pet’s kidneys.

Two Kidney Disease Categories

Kidney disease can be divided into two main categories: acute, which rapidly progresses over days to weeks, and chronic, which gradually worsens over a long period.

Chronic Kidney Disease

This is persistent and happens slowly over time. Many of the signs of chronic kidney disease can be mistakenly attributed to your cat’s personality or normal habits, and affected cats are often able to compensate for years before noticeable symptoms arise.


  • bacteria and dental infections
  • urinary tract obstruction
  • immune-mediated renal disease
  • kidney stones
  • thyroid issues
  • birth defects
  • metabolic disorders such as high blood pressure
  • diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • exposure to toxins such as insecticides
  • certain medications

Acute Kidney Disease

Acute kidney disease happens quickly and often due to a severe injury or ingestion of a toxic substance.

What are the symptoms of cat kidney disease?

If your cat shows symptoms of kidney disease, it is important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis. Renal failure may lead to uremia if the kidneys are not able to remove urea from the blood. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in the outcome for your cat. The symptoms of kidney failure in cats may develop quickly – over days or weeks – or more gradually. 

These include:

  • Drinking water excessively
  • Frequent urinating
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Diarrhoea
  • Poor appetite
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Unkempt coat
  • Pale gums
  • Bloody urine
  • Enlarged abdomen

Treatment of Cat Kidney Disease

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for cat kidney disease, as the course of the disease and the severity of symptoms will vary from cat to cat. Treatment options will be based on your cat’s individual needs and may include dietary changes, medication, or other therapies.

Dietary Changes

One of the most important things you can do for a cat with kidney disease is to feed them a diet that is specifically formulated for cats with renal problems. These diets are designed to help reduce the workload on the kidneys and minimize the levels of toxins in the blood. Talk to your veterinarian about which diet is best for your cat.


Depending on the underlying cause of your cat’s kidney disease, they may require medication to help manage their symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Commonly used medications include those that help control blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and prevent or dissolve kidney stones.

Other Therapies

Your cat may also benefit from other therapies such as hydration therapy, which helps to flush toxins from the body and keep your cat hydrated. A kidney transplant is an option for some cats with end-stage kidney disease, but it is not always possible.

Palliative care is also an important part of treatment for cats with kidney disease. This involves providing support and comfort to your cat as they cope with its illness. Palliative care can help improve your cat’s quality of life and make them more comfortable during this difficult time.

Overall, the key to treating cat kidney disease is early diagnosis and consistent care and monitoring. With the right treatment plan in place, your cat can live a long and happy life despite its condition.

Best tips for managing kidney disease include:

  • Feed your cat a nutritionally complete and balanced renal diet to decrease the amount of work for the kidneys and reduce the acid load. This also helps maintain normal blood levels of phosphorus and potassium. Renal diets are available in dry and wet formulations. Canned products are preferable due to the higher water content.
  • Feed your cat smaller, more frequent meals rather than 1 or 2 larger ones each day.
  • Increase water intake. Cats with chronic kidney disease are susceptible to dehydration due to the reduced ability of the kidneys to conserve water by concentrating urine. Maintaining a good fluid intake is very important. Cats with chronic renal disease should be fed wet foods rather than dry, grain-based foods.
  • Multiple bowls of fresh, clean water should be left around the house so that your cat doesn’t have to walk far to drink.
  • Monitor your cat for weight loss/gain and decreased or increased appetite. Alterations may indicate a problem with the disease progression and may require your veterinarian to adjust your cat’s treatment plan.

Prevention of Cat Kidney Disease

There is no guaranteed way to prevent cat kidney disease, as the exact causes and risk factors are not always known. However, there are some things you can do to help reduce your cat’s risk of developing this condition.

These include feeding a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, providing plenty of fresh water on a daily basis, and making sure they get regular exercise and veterinary care.

Additionally, taking steps to minimize stress in your cat’s life may also be helpful. Ultimately, early diagnosis is key for managing kidney disease in cats, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms and seek prompt treatment if necessary.

  • Proper hydration by feeding wet food, or a combination of wet and dry food. Wet food should be the cat’s main source of nutrients over dry food.
  • Take veterinary advice about portion sizes. Obesity can increase the risk of kidney disease. Ideal portion sizes depending on the cat’s weight, health and activity level. Indoor cats need less food than outdoor cats, which get more exercise.
  • If a cat is in the early stages of the disease, get a specific cat food recommendation from the vet.
  • Take the cat to the vet twice a year for a check-up. This is especially important for senior cats.
  • A good quality balanced diet is preferably recommended by a vet.
  • Plenty of exercise every day. Encourage play with throw and drag toys and hiding treats around the home.
  • If a cat is prone to urinary tract infections, keep the litter tray clean and dry.

What is the prognosis for cats with kidney disease?

The prognosis for cats with kidney disease varies depending on a number of factors, including the severity and stage of the condition, as well as the overall health and age of the cat. In general, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help improve a cat’s chances of living a long and happy life despite its condition.

However, there is no guaranteed cure for kidney disease in cats, so it is important to work closely with your vet to develop an individualized treatment plan that best meets your pet’s unique needs.

Additionally, there are a number of things you can do to help manage your cat’s symptoms and improve its quality of life, including providing proper nutrition and hydration, minimizing stress in its environment, and getting regular veterinary care. With the right care and support, cats with kidney disease can enjoy a good quality of life for many years to come.

FAQs Cat Kidney Disease

What are the common symptoms of kidney disease in cats?

The most common symptom of kidney disease in cats is increased thirst and urination. Other signs may include weight loss, decreased appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and mouth ulcers. In some cases, the only sign may be a change in the colour or volume of your cat’s urine.

How is kidney disease diagnosed and treated in cats?

Kidney disease is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, laboratory testing, and imaging studies. Treatment options vary depending on the stage and severity of the condition but may include dietary modification, medication, and/or fluid therapy.

What can I do to help manage my cat’s condition and improve its quality of life?

There are a number of things you can do to help support and manage your cat’s kidney disease, including providing proper nutrition and hydration, minimizing stress in their environment, and getting regular veterinary care. This will help ensure that your pet is as comfortable and healthy as possible despite their condition.

What is the long-term prognosis for cats with kidney disease?

The long-term prognosis for cats with kidney disease depends on a variety of factors, including the severity and stage of the condition as well as the overall health and age of the cat. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, however, many cats are able to live happy and healthy lives despite their condition.

Are there any other resources or support available for cat owners with a pet affected by kidney disease?

Yes, there are a number of resources and support groups available for cat owners whose pets are affected by kidney disease. These can provide valuable information and advice on managing the condition and caring for your pet. Your veterinarian can also help point you in the right direction if you’re looking for additional resources.

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