Diagnosing Kidney Failure in Cats

Kidney failure in cats may affect cats of any age; however elderly cats are more prone to kidney disease and failure. Typically, cats will develop chronic renal failure after the age of 9. Kidney disease may be transmitted genetically, but may also be caused by aging, diet or different environmental factors. Diagnosing kidney failure is performed judging by a few clear symptoms and by running a few blood and urine tests.

Kidney failure can be a fatal condition.

Kidney Failure in Cats

The kidneys are vital organs in the cat’s body. When these fail to filter the waste and toxins from the blood to the urine, the cat can become seriously ill. A cat with kidney disease will drink more water, but some of this will be retained by the body.

By drinking more water, the body will flush out a few of the toxins and waste from the blood stream, but this will also lead to mouth and stomach ulcers, anemia, urinary tract infections and eventually kidney failure. A cat has kidney failure if more than 75% of his kidneys are not able to properly filter the waste materials.

Kidney failure may also cause blindness, due to an elevated blood pressure.

Kidney Failure Symptoms

Kidney failure will be signaled by the followings:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Less activity; the cat will be often tired after performing regular activities
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Mouth sores
  • Foul odor breath
  • Hypertension, which may lead to temporary blindness
  • Irritability or low tolerance level when your cat is being patted

Often, cats will only drink more water and urinate more often, without presenting the other symptoms. In some cases, these symptoms exist but they are too subtle to be detected.

Diagnosing Kidney Failure

If you notice some symptoms of kidney disease, you should consult your vet. The vet will take a look at your pet and will also need a urine sample and will run some blood tests.

The vet may perform x-rays, an ultrasound and measure your pet’s blood pressure.

If you would like to know what causes the kidney disease and failure, the vet will perform a kidney ultrasound or a biopsy. In some cases, you vet may need to send you to some specialized labs for more detailed tests.

Causes of Kidney Failure

Most of the times, the kidney failure has no determined cause. Some vets consider that the cat’s diet may be directly linked to the health of the kidneys. However, aging is also a factor. Kidney failure may also be caused by peritonitis, cancer or chronic urinary obstruction.

Treatment and Prognosis

A feline with kidney failure has low chances of survival. The condition is not treatable. The cat will receive supportive care, intravenous fluids and some medications. A change to wet diet is compulsory.

The cat may live up to one year after being diagnosed with kidney failure. The condition may lead to complications and in some cases, euthanasia is recommended to end the pet’s suffering.