Feline Kidney Disease Symptoms

There are two types of conditions to consider when discussing feline kidney disease: Acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure. Some veterinarians may also refer to it as acute or chronic renal failure. The word renal is another name for kidney.

Acute Feline Kidney Disease

Acute kidney failure describes what happens when the kidneys suddenly cease to be effective in removing wastes from the blood. This is usually due to poisoning, injury, dehydration, obstruction or infection. A cat with acute kidney disease is in extreme jeopardy and should see a vet immediately. In some instances, renal function can be restored if treatment is started early enough.

Cats that have acute kidney failure may produce little or no urine; have nausea, vomiting, weakness, seizures and lethargy. It is not unusual for cats with acute feline kidney disease to refuse to eat. They may drink large amounts of water or none at all. Cats of any age can have acute feline kidney disease.

Chronic Feline Kidney Disease

Chronic feline kidney disease is the slow and gradual loss of kidney function over a period of time. This form of feline kidney disease is usually seen in older cats or cats with diabetes. Chronic feline kidney disease is irreversible; the goal of treatment is to slow the progression of the disease and to help the cat have as much quality of life as possible. The disease is usually not painful unless infection is also present in the bladder or kidneys. Chronic feline kidney disease is always fatal, although dialysis is available as a treatment option.

Excessive consumption of water and frequent urination are the most constant signs of chronic feline kidney disease. The appetite is poor, therefore, cats will begin to lose weight as muscle mass is broken down to supply the body with protein. Poor appetite is a defense mechanism the body uses to try to prevent the ingestion of proteins that will become toxins as they are digested. These toxins are normally removed from the blood by normally functioning kidneys. The cat’s blood pressure may rise and eye damage with blindness can result.

Weakness in Cats with Feline Kidney Disease

Many mechanisms lead to weakness. Electrolyte imbalance occurs as the kidneys become unable to concentrate urine and retain vital minerals such as sodium, potassium and chloride. Dehydration is very often present due to the excessive urination. And finally, anemia is another consequence of chronic feline kidney disease, as the kidneys cannot produce hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells.

The buildup of toxins in the blood stream decreases the life span of red blood cells by half, further worsening anemia. The toxins also lead to nausea and vomiting. Seizures may begin when the toxins reach high enough levels to begin to accumulate in brain tissue. The toxins can become present in the saliva of the cat which are they broken down by bacteria in the cat’s mouth to ammonia. This leads to sores and ulcerations of the mouth and digestive system.

Cats that are exhibiting symptoms of feline kidney disease need veterinarian evaluation as soon as possible. Ongoing monitoring of the cat’s condition is crucial to the cat having a good quality of life.