Kidney disease in cats


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:

 Kidney infections

 Blockages of the urinary tract

 Dehydration

 Poisonings

 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.

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