Kidney Infection Symptoms in Cats

It is important to understand and recognize kidney infection symptoms in your cat because early diagnosis and proper treatment can prevent complications. The majority of urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that can enter the cat's body through the urethra. Bacteria can cause a bladder infection (bacterial cystitis), however bacteria may ascend up towards the kidney and renal pelvis and cause a kidney infection (pyelonephritis).

Predisposing Risk Factors for Kidney Infections in Cats

Cats with weak immune systems may be prone to urinary tract infections. It is known that cats with sugar in their urine may have an increased risk of developing kidney infections. Birth defects, such as ectopic ureters may predispose the cat to urinary tract infections. Stones in the cat's kidney or ureter may affect the normal flow of urine, which may lead to kidney infections.

Urinary Symptoms of Kidney Infections in Cats

A cat with a kidney infection may try to urinate frequently, however he may only be able to pass small amounts of urine. He may appear to strain in a squatting position when trying to urinate. The cat may also have a hunched posture, or he may walk in a stiff manner due to his discomfort. His lower abdomen may appear swollen and painful. It is common for a cat with a kidney infection to have pain in the lower back area, surrounding the kidneys.

The urine may be foul smelling, or it may have a cloudy appearance. There may be blood in the urine, which is known as hematuria. The cat may frequently groom himself at the urogenital area because the urine may be irritating to the skin. A cat with a kidney infection may urinate in inappropriate places outside of his litter box, such as the floor. No urination is also a possible symptom for a cat with pyelonephritis.

Additional Symptoms of Kidney Infections in Cats

  • Increased thirst

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Ulcers in the mouth

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Labored breathing or panting

  • Anemia

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Lethargy, decreased interest in things, or withdrawn

It is possible for a cat to have a kidney infection without obvious outward symptoms, until the cat develops kidney failure from the serious infection. If your cat has one or more of the symptoms listed above, it is essential that you notify your veterinarian for a consultation. Pyelonephritis can be a life-threatening disease, and it can cause kidney damage.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Kidney Infections in Cats

The veterinarian may order blood work, along with a urinalysis and bacterial culture to diagnose a kidney infection. Contrast x-rays and ultrasonography may also be ordered, if needed. Treatment for pyelonephritis may include antibiotic therapy for approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Intravenous fluids may be given depending on the cat's symptoms.

It is important to carefully follow the instructions from your veterinarian regarding treatment for your cat. It is possible for cats to recover completely from pyelonephritis. This depends on the amount of damage that may have occurred to the kidneys. Early identification of kidney infection symptoms in your cat, along with the proper diagnosis and treatment could prevent serious complications.