Advanced Kidney Disease in Cats

Advanced kidney disease in cats is one of the more common medical conditions found. Cats can survive for many years in renal failure, but this disease is not usually curable and most will eventually die from it. While kidney disease can affect cats of any age, older cats and those with an obesity problem are generally at higher risk.

Kidney Disease in Cats

Normal functioning kidneys operate by removing waste products from the blood and transferring that waste into the urine. Healthy kidneys will transfer large amounts of waste into very small amounts of urine, which is concentrated. When the kidneys begin to fail, the malfunction of waste removal from the blood creates weaker, or less concentrated urine. Since this urine is less potent with the body's waste, it contains fewer toxins. More urine will need to be produced in order to continue removing sufficient amounts of waste. Cats will urinate more frequently, and therefore to prevent dehydration, will become exceptionally thirsty. When waste begins to build up, blood becomes toxic, leading to general feelings of illness.


When cats are experiencing kidney disease, they will present all or most of several common symptoms. In addition to frequent urination, you may notice urination outside of the litter box. Thirst will be increased while appetite will diminish, leading to weight loss. Cats will become mostly inactive and display a poor coat of hair. Advanced kidney disease in cats leads to more severe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, foul breath odor, mouth or tongue ulcerations and lowered body temperature.


Treatment of kidney disease is aimed at restoring at least some functionality to the cat's kidneys. Once kidneys reach the point of failure, there is often only minimal or temporary success. However, the first process during treatment will attempt to restart the kidneys by flushing them with intravenous fluids. If sufficient kidney cells remain, this fluid therapy will restore potassium and other nutrients. In successful cases, the kidneys will remain functioning on their own for months to years afterward. It is possible that this process will not work and the kidneys will either stop functioning directly after treatment, or never regain healthy operation.

Management of Kidney Disease in Cats

Since there is no cure for kidney failure, proper management of the disease is important. Even if your cat responds well to treatment, the kidneys are still damaged and fragile. Implementing various dietary changes and nutritional supplementation will improve general well being and possibly provide the cat with a longer lifespan.

  • Introduce a low protein diet, being sure to research cat food varieties for the best possible nutritional value.
  • Give potassium supplements. Higher potassium levels help the kidneys function and replace important nutrients which have been lost.
  • Administration of subcutaneous fluids at home may be necessary.
  • Other medications may be administered to control blood pressure, phosphates, stomach acid, appetite stimulation, stimulation of red blood cells and regulation of numerous other important mineral and vitamin levels.