Skip to main content

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

HGlick has rescued and placed stray cats for over 20 years and has personally fostered more than ten during that time


Signs of Kidney Disease in Cats

What are the symptoms of kidney disease in cats and how do you know if your cat has kidney disease?

Usually, you will not see any signs of illness unless 75% of the kidney function is lost. It shows that it will be in advanced stages when you come to know about your cat's disease.

The most obvious signs of kidney failure in cats are increased thirst and increased urination. However, these signs can be confused with other conditions that show similar symptoms, such as diabetes mellitus, liver disease, hyperthyroidism. So you should always consult a vet to get your furry feline friend diagnosed. Some of the symptoms that are common to renal failure are;

  • Poor quality of coat
  • Loss of weight
  • Increased urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Incontinence
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody urine
  • Lethargy
  • Bad breath
  • Increase sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth ulcers

Function of Kidneys and Causes of Kidney Disease in Cats

One of the common health problems among your feline companions' is kidney disease. Some may be chronic, while some kidney diseases are acute. The best way to detect feline kidney disease is through blood value changes. Before we discuss feline kidney disease and the signs of kidney disease in cats, you should know the kidneys' normal function.

Function Of Kidneys

Kidneys play some very crucial roles in body functions. It is one of the most amazing organs performing critical tasks. Some of the essential functions kidneys do are;

  • Filter 20% body fluids
  • Regulates electrolyte and water balance
  • It maintains acid-base balance
  • It helps in the regulation of vitamin D and calcium excretion
  • It helps to excrete waste products of metabolism and excretion of chemicals through urine.

If any one of the normal renal functions fails, the body can suffer many systemic consequences. Increased urination and thirst are the most common signs that cats with kidney failure will exhibit. Chronic kidney failure can not be cured or treated, but it can be supported by supportive therapy. Let's now see the possible causes of chronic kidney disease in cats

Causes Of Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats

Long-standing damage to the kidneys leads to chronic kidney disease in cats. Such irreversible damages disable the kidneys to remove wastes from the blood and function properly. Most of the time, the cause is unknown. Despite most of the causes to be anonymous, some idiopathic causes for chronic kidney disease are;

Kidney Tumors

Tumors such as lymphomas can affect kidneys


Kidney damage can result from certain toxins and drugs

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

This disease is common in Persian cats and some other old cats. In this disease, the kidney tissue becomes filled with cysts gradually. It can also result in renal failure in cats.

Scroll to Continue


Due to bacterial infection

Viral diseases

Feline infectious peritonitis virus and feline leukemia virus

Types of Renal Failure in Cats

Acute and chronic renal failure are the two main types of kidney failure in felines. Both differ in their cause, prognosis, and treatment.

Acute kidney failure

As the name indicates, this type occurs suddenly. The cats become affected within a matter of days or weeks. Usually, all age groups of cats are prone to it. The typical causes of acute renal failure are;

  • Diseases
  • Poisons
  • Organ failure
  • Medications etc.

If caught timely, acute renal failure is treatable.

Chronic renal failure:

The chronic form of kidney failure is slow and develops over months leading to loss of kidney function. The kidneys become unable to perform their normal function of filtration of toxins from the blood. It can lead to complete renal failure.

Chronic kidney failure can have the following causative reasons;

  • Genetics
  • Cysts ( leading to tissue damage of kidneys)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Blockages

Stages of Kidney Disease in Cats

Early Kidney Disease in Cats

At the initial stages of kidney disease, the kidneys try to cope with their inability to perform proper functioning by eliminating a larger quantity of more diluted urine. This results in an increased loss of water from the body, due to which cats drink more water. This is typically called compensated kidney failure. After the cats' kidneys fail to almost two-thirds, increased elimination of waste is observed in the bloodstream, indicating severe disease onset.

End-Stage Kidney disease in cats and when to euthanize

When the disease progresses to the next stage, with more severe symptoms, with kidneys losing their full functioning, end-stage renal failure, all the symptoms exist with some more severe ones. Some of the common symptoms seen in end-stage renal failure in cats are sunken eyes, inability to walk, dullness, foul odor, incontinence, bowel seizures, loss of appetite and thirst, confusion, blindness, twitching, withdrawing, pacing, hiding, and running away from people.

Many of these signs are present, not all during end-stage renal failure. There is no proper cure for the disease, but if you get the disease early diagnosed you increase the longevity of your cat's life through supportive care.

Your cat will become a huge question at this stage. Most people are very reluctant to face the inevitable, but if your kitty has lived a long and good life you can gain a small bit of comfort.


Cat Kidney Disease Treatment

Cats with kidney disease have no specific treatment. The condition will ultimately progress in any case. You can only provide symptomatic therapy with your veterinarian's help. Treatment options have specific goals, such as keeping the hydration status normal in your feline. One of the easiest ways to do so is to feed your cat with wet food and offer plenty of water. You can provide beef broth, low sodium chicken, or tuna juice as some cats like having flavored water. Supplementing the cat with essential fatty acids and providing a specially designed diet can be helpful.

Your veterinarian will also inject the fluid electrolytes into your cat. Some of the patients with kidney disease also need potassium supplementation and some drugs that can bind phosphorous. Depending on the disease severity, if your cat excretes proteins in urine, she may need medication for that too.

In advanced options, you can go for a renal transplant that has been successful recently.

Though your feline will ultimately succumb to her kidney disease, you can make her live a healthier and longer life by opting for new treatment options and regular visits to the vet throughout her journey of this disease. Only you have the responsibility as a pet owner to make your feline buddy go through the process with as much ease as possible.



Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease

Better Quality of Life Support for Your Cat

Wet Cat Food Easy on Cats with Kidney Problems

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 12, 2021:

This was really interesting to read. I don't know much about this condition so it was interesting to find out more about it.

I do hate how cats are able to hide their illnesses from us until it's very bad.

Related Articles