The kidneys are important organs: they are involved in waste removal (urine production),
control of blood pressure and even the creation of new red blood cells.
There are two types of kidney disease: acute and chronic renal failure. Both can have
different causes and need to be managed differently.
Acute renal failure
As the name suggests, this often presents suddenly (sometimes a matter of days!). It can
occur in cats of all ages and can be secondary to other problems like:
Blockages of the urinary tract
Trauma to the kidneys or bladder
Your cat will present as very ill with a painful abdomen. They may even be vomiting and
dehydrated. Luckily, if treated early enough it can be reversible. Often your cat will be
hospitalised and given intravenous fluids to combat the dehydration.
Chronic renal failure
This is also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD) and is commonly seen in older cats. A lot
of the time the cause of the disease is unknown and the kidneys gradually begin to lose
function. If your cat does have CKD, you may notice weight loss, increased thirst, increased
urination, poor appetite and lethargy. Not all these signs are specific to CKD so it is important
for your vet to do further tests to diagnose it correctly. They will do this by taking urine and
blood samples to see if the kidneys are removing waste materials from the blood properly.
If there is a specific cause of CKD discovered, treatment may slow the progression of disease.
However, as this is not often the case, CKD can be managed. Dietary modification is an
important management factor. Your cat may be moved onto a ‘kidney friendly’ diet and may
receive other treatments to manage the clinical signs.