Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Kidney disease in cats is fairly common, and can occur in cats of any age or breed. Older cats are, however, at a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease than younger cats. Some breeds may be more prone than others. Read on to learn more about chronic kidney disease in cats, its symptoms, and its treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Most cats who develop kidney disease do so at about nine years of age. In general, the older your cat is, the more likely he is to develop chronic kidney disease. Persians and Abyssinians seem to be more vulnerable to this condition than others.

Causes of kidney disease in cats can include kidney infection, kidney cancer, or inflammation of the kidneys. Some immune conditions can affect kidney function, leading to kidney disease in cats. Exposure to toxins can damage the kidneys, as can a condition known as ischemia, which hinders blood flow to the kidneys and keeps them from getting enough oxygen.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats

Cats suffering from chronic kidney disease may develop a range of urinary or other symptoms. Symptoms of kidney disease in cats can include:

  • Increased thirst and increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Halitosis
  • Weakness
  • Lowered appetite and weight loss
  • Lack of physical coordination

Diagnosing and Treating Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Your vet will need a complete medical history and physical exam in order to diagnose kidney disease in your cat. Blood tests, urinalysis and abdominal X-rays can help your vet determine the extent of the damage to your cat's kidneys, and its cause.

Chronic kidney disease in cats can be a deadly condition. Your cat may need to be hospitalized if his condition is severe. Once your cat's condition has been stabilized, your vet will recommend a treatment plan that can help manage the symptoms of your cat's condition, to extend his life and improve his quality of life.

Cats with kidney disease often have elevated or lowered blood potassium levels, so your cat may need supplements or medication to normalize his blood potassium. A low-protein, low-phosphorus diet can help support kidney function by making it easier for your cat's kidneys to filter impurities from his blood. Prescription medications can help relieve the vomiting and anemia that often accompany kidney disease.

Kidney disease in cats can cause dehydration, because it increases urination. Make sure your cat has access to plenty of clean, fresh water and check him regularly for signs of dehydration. Your vet can recommend fluid therapy, either intravenous or subcutaneous, to help relieve dehydration due to kidney disease.

You will need to monitor your cat carefully to make sure his condition remains stable. Pay particular attention to his urination. If he begins to urinate even more often than before, his kidney disease could be worsening.

Administer all medications as directed and follow your vet's dietary and other instructions for your cat's care. Your vet may need to see your cat frequently in order to keep track of his condition. Keep all veterinary appointments and contact your vet immediately if your cat's symptoms get worse.