Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Cats

Kidney failure in cats may be either acute or chronic. Kidney failure often occurs long before symptoms appear, because a cat can survive without signs of kidney problems, or even with only one functioning or partially functioning kidney. Kidney failure usually occurs as a result of damage brought on by disease.

Causes of Kidney Failure

In many cases, the causes of kidney failure in cats remain unknown. However, there remain several possible causes. They include:

  • Congenital kidney defects
  • Chronic interstitial nephritis, a progressive disease that causes inflammation of the internal structure of the kidneys
  • Bacterial infection
  • Kidney cancer
  • Immune reactions to other diseases
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Poisoning
  • Obstruction of the urinary tract
  • Any disorder that reduces blood flow to the kidneys

Cats of all ages are at risk for kidney failure, though geriatric cats develop the condition more frequently than younger ones. In these cases, renal failure may already have been present for years. If your cat begins to show signs of kidney failure, seek medical attention immediately. If caught early, kidney failure in cats can be treated. In cases of acute renal failure, damage may not always be permanent.

Symptoms of Feline Renal Failure

The most common symptoms of kidney failure in cats are:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Increased water consumption
  • Gingivitis
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Bad breath
  • Poor cat condition
  • Depression and lethargy

Increased thirst is usually the first sign of kidney failure in cats.

Treatment of Feline Kidney Failure

Kidney failure in cats is a life-threatening condition. While the prognosis for most cases is poor, many cats can continue to live with kidney failure for some time if they receive prompt and appropriate care. If the cause of your cat's kidney failure can't be identified, your vet can still treat the symptoms.

If kidney failure has sickened your cat considerably, the vet may need to admit him as an intensive care patient. Fluid therapy can help ease the symptoms of dehydration.

The cat may need a change of diet. A kidney diet may include levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals that are different from what he previously consumed. Cats with lowered appetites will need to be encouraged to eat.

Medication may be used to relieve symptoms such as vomiting, anemia and lack of appetite. Chemotherapy may be necessary for cats who are suffering from kidney cancer or lymphomas.

If your cat is suffering from chronic kidney failure, he'll require treatment for the rest of his life. This treatment may become more intensive as the disease progresses. Your vet may begin to monitor your cat's condition more closely over time, and multiple blood and other tests may need to be performed.

Your cat will need to keep up his fluid intake in order to cope with chronic or acute renal failure. Make sure he has plenty of fresh water. Add water to his food or offer him broth or milk to increase his fluid intake.

Help your cat cope with renal failure by creating a stress-free environment for him. Keep him indoors. Try to stop him from over-exerting himself, and keep him comfortably warm at all times.