Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Causes & Treatment for Kidney Failure in Cats

Your cat's kidneys play several key roles in keeping them healthy. Here, our Port Jefferson veterinary team explains the causes, symptoms, and treatments for kidney failure in cats, as well as the role of your pet's diet in this condition.

What is kidney failure in cats and what are its causes?

Healthy kidneys in your pet help to control blood pressure, maintain an electrolyte balance in their body, remove toxins, produce important hormones that encourage red blood cell production, and regulate calcium levels and hydration.

Kidney failure (also known as renal failure) occurs when your cat's kidneys no longer function properly. This can be caused by a variety of factors or conditions, including consuming toxic substances, infections, or the growth of tumors in your cat's body. 

The immediate risk of failing kidneys in cats is that they are unable to clear dangerous toxins from their blood.

The type of diet you feed your feline companion may be a contributing factor to kidney failure. Cats have a low desire to drink water, so they are often dehydrated but not thirsty. Dehydration can contribute to urinary tract infections and chronic kidney disease in cats.

As a result, feeding your cat dry food can lead to kidney failure, whereas wet or canned food can help them stay hydrated and healthy.

What are the different types of kidney failure in cats?

There are two types of kidney failure in cats. Each type differs in causes, treatment options, and prognosis.

Acute Renal Failure

Acute kidney failure occurs when your cat's kidneys become suddenly unable to function properly. This type of kidney failure develops suddenly, within days or weeks. Acute renal failure is frequently reversible if detected early.

Poisons, trauma, infection, organ failure, urethral blockages, dehydration, and other causes can all cause it in cats of any age. Poisons, including toxic plants, pesticides, cleaning fluids, and human medications, are the leading cause of acute renal failure.

Chronic Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney failure in cats is more gradual, developing over months or even years. Autoimmune diseases, kidney cysts, and genetics are all common causes of this type of renal failure. 

Chronic kidney failure is a progressive illness that can lead to total kidney failure, in which the kidneys gradually cease to function as they lose their ability to filter toxins from the blood.

What are the symptoms of kidney failure in cats? 

If your cat's kidneys aren't removing waste from his or her body, you may notice that he or she drinks more water and urinates more frequently. Because toxins accumulate in the cat's body, they may become nauseous and stop eating. Overall, your cat will appear lethargic and unhappy. 

General symptoms of kidney failure in cats may include:

  • Depression
  • Bad breath
  • Dehydration
  • Excess thirst
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea (may contain blood)
  • Vomiting (may contain blood)

If your cat is suffering from acute kidney failure you may also notice an arched back or stiff-legged gait, symptoms that your cat’s kidneys are causing pain.

Chronic kidney failure gradually progresses over years, and the signs may not be noticeable. By the time you do see symptoms, the disease may already be leading to total kidney failure. 

While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease if it’s detected and treated early your cat’s longevity and quality of life can be improved.

How is kidney failure in cats diagnosed and treated?

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination on your cat, including blood and urine tests, X-rays, and possibly an ultrasound. A kidney biopsy may also be required. 

If your cat has kidney disease, treatments may include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, supplements, medications, vitamin injections, and, in some cases, surgery to remove blockages. The goal of treating kidney failure is to slow its progression and alleviate its symptoms. 

You can help your cat's treatment by providing a carefully planned and managed diet as well as plenty of fresh and clean water to drink. Your veterinarian will also advise you to gradually transition your feline companion to a specialized diet low in protein and phosphorus but high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Cats with end-stage kidney failure will require palliative care in their final days, which will include keeping them warm and comfortable, keeping food, water, and a litter box nearby, and providing plenty of loving human companionship.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing signs and symptoms of kidney disease? Contact Jefferson Animal Hospital today to book an appointment, or visit your nearest emergency veterinary clinic for urgent or emergency care. 

New Patients Welcome

Jefferson Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Port Jefferson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(631) 473-0415 Contact