Kidney Problems in Cats: How to Prevent, Detect And Treat Them

Acute or chronic, depending on its duration, kidney failure is a common disease in cats. It affects the ability of the kidneys to perform their functions properly. Preventing it and detecting it in time is essential to control it and thus increase the hope and quality of life of our beloved felines.

Kidney problems in cats

Acute and chronic kidney deficiency

Although chronic kidney failure is more common in elderly cats, young cats can suffer from it for multiple reasons: congenital defects, trauma, poisoning, infections, renal artery obstruction, congenital anomalies, heart failure, etc.

Faced with kidney disease, healthy parts of the kidneys increase their effectiveness to compensate for the lost functional balance; when, over time, this balance is lost, the symptoms of chronic kidney failure appear.

Cats can have two types of kidney failure: acute and chronic.

  1. Acute kidney failure
    It is common that, in felines, the cause comes from various infections or also from having ingested toxic substances . We speak of a specific and sudden inability of the kidneys to perform their functions correctly.
    Fortunately, cats at some point suffer acute kidney failure , can be recovered if the disorder is detected and treated early.

2. Chronic kidney deficiency
Unlike acute kidney failure, which appears suddenly, chronic kidney failure has a slow and progressive course . The fact that this pathology affects mainly elderly felines has its explanation in the gradual deterioration that, with age, the kidneys and their functional parts suffer.

Although its origin is often uncertain, specialists point to causes ranging from infections to tumors.

In these cases, the disease has no cure but it is possible to delay it and alleviate its effects : with treatment which may include specific drugs to control hypertension or anemia; fluid therapy , to tackle dehydration and electrolyte gaps ; as well as a special diet.

Kidneys, vital and laborious organs

The kidneys are vital organs that work incessantly and perform several essential functions:

  • They cleanse the blood of toxins.
  • They regulate the acid content of the blood.
  • They produce essential hormones, such as erythropoietin, which stimulate the creation of red blood cells by the bone marrow.
  • They regulate the level of water and electrolytes in the body.
  • They control blood pressure.

Unfortunately, and as we pointed out in our post “Kidney problems in our pets” , the incidence of feline kidney failure is considerable: one in three cats over 10 years of age suffers from kidney disorders .


As has been said, we are talking about a pathology typical of elderly felines. Therefore, the prevention par excellence are periodic urine and blood checks, starting at 8 years of age.

Through checks, the vet can observe if there is an increase in creatinine in the blood . The increase of urea in the urine, accompanied by a low density thereof, is also an indicator of kidney failure.

Symptoms of kidney failure in cats

We have advanced that chronic kidney failure is a silent , slowly progressive disease, whose symptoms usually appear long after the kidney begins to deteriorate.

Undoubtedly, the early detection counts in our favor, so we must be attentive to the symptoms.

The most common early signs are:

  • Excess urine –polyuria–
  • Constant need to drink water -polydipsia-

As the pathology progresses :

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weightloss
  • Decrease in activity –lethargy–
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Soft spot
  • Halitosis
  • Mouth ulcers

Over time, deterioration occurs, making initial symptoms worse :

  • Dehydration
  • Deteriorated coat
  • Hollow eyes
  • Dryness of the mucous membranes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe nervous disorders

Since the kidney performs various functions, other associated complications may also appear:

  • Low levels of potassium in the blood
  • High concentration of phosphorus
  • Acidosis
  • Hypertension
  • Anemia

In no case should a feline that urinate a lot be deprived of water as it could become dehydrated; Remember that the cat must always have clean and fresh water at its disposal in its drinking fountain.

Diagnosis of kidney disease

Diagnose the kidney failure as early as possible is essential to increase the effectiveness of treatments. For this, the vet usually requests a urine sample and a blood test.

Through the analysis of the urine, it will study if there are alterations , such as an abnormal degree of concentration , protein decrease or hidden infections.

Since the accumulation of toxins can trigger a reaction that affects various organs and systems, with a thorough blood test, the doctor will check the status of other vital organs and areas, in addition to the kidney.

The importance of diet

When it comes to delaying the progression of kidney disorders in felines, diet plays a significant role . The different brands of food for felines offer feed thinking about these pathologies.

As easy as following the following recommendations …

  • Reduce your intake of protein , salt, and phosphorus.
  • Ensure correct hydration.
  • Offer a diet with an adequate proportion of wet food.
  • The dry feed mixed with wet food must canned to ensure optimum level of hydration.

Keep in mind that it is the veterinarian who will indicate the special diet that your cat should follow and how to introduce it, gradually, until he gets used to it. A common strategy is to mix the new food with the old one and gradually increase the amount.

Although this process may take a couple of months, it is just a matter of patience; specific nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of your feline.

On the other hand, it is better to avoid the sweets but want to give a prize to your cat, offer any inclusion in the food special for felines with kidney problems. The health of your animal will also improve if, instead of feeding it large quantities, twice a day, you choose to distribute the food in a greater number of feedings.

Finally, in cases of feline kidney failure, we want to emphasize the importance of appropriate treatment and care as they are essential to slow the evolution of the disease and improve the quality of life of our kittens.