Kidney Failure in Cats

Chronic renal failure is a progressive loss of kidney function over a period of months or years. The symptoms of worsening kidney function are non-specific but the first symptom to watch out for is increased water intake.

You may also notice your cat losing weight, has a poor appetite or bad breath.

Over time, waste products of metabolism such as urea and creatinine build up in the blood stream, causing a syndrome known as uremia.

Uraemia affects virtually every body system, causing:

  • high blood pressure and heart disease
  • anaemia
  • mouth and stomach ulcers
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • drowsiness, lethargy and weakness and many more signs

Cats who are suffering from a uremic crisis require intravenous fluid therapy to correct fluid and electrolyte deficits. This requires hospitalisation and your cat should be treated for anything between 2 and 5 days. These patients are very often ‘off their food’ and we sometimes place feeding tubes to help them through the initial treatment. Other treatments in these cases include antibiotic, anti-nausea and anti-ulcer medicines and pain management.

Whilst generally speaking, chronic renal failure is a progressive disease, this progression can be delayed significantly with the correct long term treatment. In some cases, it can be reversed.

Management of chronic renal failure consists mainly of:

  • Dietary management –a reduced protein, salt and phosphorous diet which is supplemented with essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants
  • Anti-hypertensive medicines to prevent high blood pressure and to reduce proteinuria (protein loss in urine)
  • IV Fluid Treatment is sometimes necessary to stabilise patients in crisis.

Prognosis for chronic renal failure is variable and depends on the animals’ age, breed and concurrent illness.

Appropriate long term treatment will increase quality of life and extends survival time.

Kidney Failure in cats

What Needs to be done?

If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian as early diagnosis and treatment is essential.