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Feline Kidney Disease: Understanding Prevention and Care

Kidney Disease in Cats: Understanding the Anatomy and Function of a Feline’s Vital Organ

Cats are beloved animals, but like any living being, they can face health issues that can severely impact the quality and duration of their lives. One such issue that is prevalent among cats is kidney disease.

Understanding what kidney disease is and how it impacts cats is essential for cat owners. Anatomy and Function of Cat’s Kidneys

The kidneys are a vital organ for maintaining health and wellness in cats.

Located in the abdomen and surrounded by fatty tissue and a protective layer, they filter waste and toxins from the blood and regulate the body’s fluids. They also play a critical role in the cat’s endocrine system, releasing erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells.

The kidneys also produce renin, which helps regulate blood pressure.

Types and Underlying Causes of Kidney Disease

There are two primary types of kidney disease that can impact cats acute and chronic. The reasons leading to these two types are different.

Acute kidney disease is often the result of a sudden injury or illness, while chronic kidney disease is a result of long-term damage. Some of the common underlying causes of kidney disease in cats include viruses, bacterial infections, exposure to toxins, and inherited conditions.

Consequences and

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats

Kidney disease can negatively affect cats in various ways. Acute kidney injury can result in sudden and severe damage to the kidneys, which can be fatal.

Chronic kidney disease, on the other hand, can result in kidney failure, where the kidneys are no longer able to function properly. When this occurs, the cat will begin to experience clinical signs like dehydration, weight loss, sores in the mouth, decreased appetite, fever, decreased activity levels, urinary accidents, and incontinence.

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease in Cats

If a cat owner suspects their pet is suffering from kidney disease, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. The vet will run a series of tests like blood work, urinalysis, kidney markers, and additional diagnostic testing to determine if the cat has kidney disease.

Treatment and Management of Kidney Disease in Cats

There is no cure for kidney disease in cats, but there are many ways to manage it and slow its progression. Many medications can help alleviate the symptoms of kidney disease.

Additionally, adequate hydration can be achieved by giving cats fresh water to drink and monitoring hydration levels. Prescribed diets, dietary supplements, and phosphorus binders can also help maintain the health of the kidneys.

In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Prevention of Kidney Disease in Cats

The best way to prevent kidney disease in cats is to avoid exposure to toxins. Other preventative measures include keeping lilies out of the home, limiting exposure to other cats, providing vaccines, monthly heartworm and flea control, and practicing early diagnosis and intervention.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats

As previously stated, the symptoms of kidney disease in cats can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms of kidney disease in cats include increased thirst and urination, intermittent vomiting, dehydration, sores in the mouth, foul breath, weight loss, decreased appetite, fever, decreased activity, urinary accidents, incontinence, inability to urinate, lower back pain, edema, muscle-wasting, vision loss, and weakness.


Cats are beloved animals, and taking care of their health is vital to ensuring they have long and happy lives. Understanding kidney disease, its symptoms, and treatment can help owners better manage their cat’s health if the disease strikes.

With proper care and management, cats with kidney disease can still live full and happy lives. 3) Causes of Kidney Disease in Cats: A Comprehensive Guide

Kidney disease is a fairly common ailment that affects cats.

While causes of kidney disease can vary, its essential to understand the factors to work towards prevention and treatment. Some of the most common reasons behind the disease include:

Serious Kidney Injury

Serious accidents can lead to kidney disease in cats. Any event that severely impairs the blood flow or damage kidney tissue can result in acute kidney injury.

Severe Infection

Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can harm the kidneys and lead to kidney disease. These infections are usually the results of other health problems or can be caused by toxins that can infect the kidneys.

Toxic Substance Ingestion

Cats can ingest toxic substances when eating or licking certain chemicals, cleaning substances, or plants. Poisons can damage kidneys, and severe cases can lead to acute kidney injury.

Inherited Conditions

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic condition that impacts Persian cats. It leads to fluid-filled sacs developing in the kidneys, causing damage.

Immune-Mediated Diseases

The immune system can cause harm to the kidneys, leading to kidney disease. Conditions such as amyloidosis can cause the immune system to deposit abnormal proteins, leading to kidney damage.

Stroke-like Events

A stroke in cats can cause organ damage, including the kidneys. A stroke causes a lack of blood flow to the brain, which can lead to damage to multiple organs and systems in the body.

Clotting Disorders

Problems with blood clotting can cause blockages in blood vessels leading to kidneys, resulting in acute kidney injury.


Tumors growing in or around the kidneys can push and damage nearby structures such as kidney tubes and blood vessels or release toxins that damage the kidneys.

Unknown Causes

Sometimes the underlying causes of kidney diseases are not known.

Preventable Causes of Kidney Disease in Cats

While some causes are out of our control, there are still preventable factors regarding kidney disease in cats. Some of the most significant preventable causes include:

Toxicologic Causes

Ensure that your cat doesnt have access to toxic substances, including household cleaning agents and rodent poisons.

Heritable Conditions

When obtaining a new cat, research the breed’s likelihood of inheriting renal disease, such as polycystic kidney disease.

Limiting Exposure to Toxins

Cats love to smell and explore their environment, so it’s essential to keep toxic household substances out of reach. Store antifreeze, cleaning products, and pesticides in locked cabinets and dispose of them safely.

Keeping Lilies Out of the Home

Lilies are toxic to cats. Even grazing on pollen can cause severe kidney damage, making it critical to avoid.

Blocking Off Access to Garage, Cleaners, and


Cat-proof your garage and lock away hazardous substances that can damage kidneys.

Limiting Exposure to Other Cats

If your cat has a history of urinary infections, avoid bringing stray cats into the house.

4) How Veterinarians Diagnose Kidney Disease in Cats

If you suspect that your cat has any symptoms of kidney disease, it is essential to see a veterinarian as early as possible for the proper diagnosis of your furry friend. Here are the specific ways veterinarians diagnose kidney disease in cats:

Routine Blood Work

The vet will perform a simple blood test to assess renal function. This test measures BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine levels in the blood.

If these values are elevated, it can be indicative of kidney disease.


Checking the urine can help diagnose the reason behind kidney disease. If there is protein in the urine, it indicates that the kidneys are not filtering correctly, leading to kidney disease.

Kidney Markers

Vets use specialized tests to diagnose kidney disease, such as SDMA, which looks for biomarkers that reflect kidney function.

Additional Diagnostic Testing

If a vet suspects kidney disease, more extensive testing may be necessary, such as:

Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio

This test compares the amount of protein in the urine to the amount of creatinine and determines any dramatic increase in protein.

Urine Culture

A culture identifies bacteria in the urine to decide if there are any bacteria that need to be treated.

Blood Pressure Evaluation

High blood pressure is common in cats with kidney disease, so vets will check your cat’s blood pressure.


X-rays will provide a detailed image of the kidneys, which the vet can use to identify any structural abnormalities.

Abdominal Ultrasound

This non-invasive technique illustrates the kidney superficially and can be used for diagnosing both acute and chronic kidney disease.

Kidney Biopsy

In cases where kidney damage is severe or resistant to treatment, vets might suggest taking a biopsy of the kidney tissue to examine further.


Kidney disease in cats can have several underlying causes, from genetic to environmental. Knowing the risk factors and preventative measures is essential for maintaining a healthy and happy feline.

If you suspect your cat has any symptoms of kidney disease, consult your veterinarian, who will diagnose the condition using blood tests, urine samples, and advanced imaging techniques. With the correct diagnosis and treatment, cats with kidney disease can still live a long and happy life.

5) Recovery and Management of Kidney Disease in Cats: A Comprehensive Guide

Kidney disease is a chronic condition that can significantly impact a cat’s long-term health and well-being. If diagnosed early, veterinarians can develop an effective management plan for cats with kidney disease.

Overview of Management and Long-Term Care for Cats with Kidney Disease

There is no cure for kidney disease in cats, but with proper treatment and management, cats can have a better quality of life. The primary goals of treatment are to reduce the workload on the kidneys, slow the progression of kidney disease, and manage clinical signs.

The following strategies can help manage kidney disease:


Medications can provide symptomatic relief and slow the progression of kidney disease. Drugs such as ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure control, anti-nausea and anti-emetic medicines, erythropoietin injections for anemia, and phosphate binders for phosphate control can be helpful.


Feeding your cat a prescription diet helps manage the progression of kidney disease. These diets have a reduced protein content, which reduces the workload on the kidneys.

They also contain increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phosphorus binders, which may help manage kidney disease’s symptoms.


Adequate hydration is critical for cats with kidney disease. Canned wet food can help increase a cat’s fluid intake, and fresh water should be available at all times.

Specific Management

Cats with kidney disease often require specific management to maintain their health. Regular blood pressure checks, IV antibiotics for infections, and deworming medication can be good examples, among others.

Blood Pressure Evaluation

High blood pressure is common in cats with kidney disease, so vets will check a cat’s blood pressure regularly.


In some cases, the underlying cause of kidney disease requires surgery to correct or relieve an obstruction.

Chemotherapy and Immunosuppressive-type Drugs

If a cat has kidney disease that is related to an immune system issue, the vet may prescribe chemotherapy or immunosuppressive-type drugs.

Relieving Obstruction

If an obstruction is caused by the kidney disease, your vet may recommend a procedure to relieve it.


Unfortunately, kidney disease can progress to a point where treatment is no longer effective or humane to continue.

Different Stages of Kidney Disease in Cats

Kidney disease is typically divided into four stages, which are based on severity. These stages are as follows:

Stage I – Kidney disease is in its earliest stages and may only be visible via blood work.

Stage II – Kidney disease is still early, but clinical signs begin to show. Stage III – Kidney disease is more advanced, and clinical symptoms are more noticeable.

Stage IV – Kidney disease is in its most advanced stages, and cats may require more intensive therapy and care. Management Strategies for

Different Stages of Kidney Disease in Cats



Prescription diets may help cats in all stages of kidney disease manage weight loss, control blood pressure, and slow the rate of kidney disease.

More Frequent Veterinary Attention

More frequent veterinary examinations can help cats in the early stages of kidney disease. Medication, Erythropoietin Injections, and

Dietary Supplements

Cats in the later stages of kidney disease may require prescribed medications, erythropoietin injections, and dietary supplements to manage symptoms.

Phosphorus Binders

Cats with advanced kidney disease may require phosphorus binders to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the bloodstream, which helps reduce the workload on the kidneys. Anti-Nausea and Anti-Emetic


Cats in later stages of kidney disease may experience symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, which can be managed using prescribed anti-nausea and anti-emetic medications.


Cats with kidney disease may require fluids when they are dehydrated.

Life Expectancy and Quality of Life for Cats with Kidney Disease

The life expectancy of cats with kidney disease can depend on the stage at which it is diagnosed and treated. At early stages of kidney disease, cats may still have a normal life expectancy or a decent quality of life with appropriate management changes.

In the later stages, cats often require lifestyle changes and long-term management to ensure an adequate quality of life. Your veterinarian may discuss palliative care or humane euthanasia for cats with advanced kidney disease, or when treatment is no longer effective.

In conclusion, kidney disease is a common condition that can negatively impact a cat’s health and wellbeing. It can result from several underlying causes including acute and chronic infections, toxins, and inherited conditions.

Through early diagnosis and proper management, a cat with kidney disease can still live a decent quality of life. Management strategies like prescription diets, medications, hydration, and regular veterinary attention can help slow the progression of kidney disease.

As cat owners, understanding the risks and prevention measures of kidney disease is crucial to keeping our furry friends healthy and happy, for as long as possible. By working with our veterinarians, we can ensure that our cats get the right diagnoses and treatment, helping them live a happy and healthy life.

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