Kidney Failure in Cats: Questions & Answers
Whether it’s human or feline, kidney failure is never a good thing. What makes kidneys so important? And how can you help keep your cat’s kidneys healthy? These are great questions, and Catipedia is here to help.
The following questions and answers were selected to give an informative overview of this issue, as well as raise awareness and understanding about it.
WHAT IS KIDNEY FAILURE IN CATS?
Kidney failure in cats occurs when, for different reasons, the kidneys simply can’t do their job anymore. They shut down, and all of their important functions are left undone – most importantly, the removal of waste products from the blood.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF KIDNEY FAILURE IN CATS?
Kidney failure in cats usually happens as a result of acute or chronic kidney disease. Veterinary experts aren’t sure what causes the chronic type, but acute kidney disease is most often caused by one of the following:
· lack of blood flow to the kidneys
· blockage of the urethra, usually in male cats
· toxicity from poisonous substances like antifreeze or Tylenol
· bacterial or viral infection
ARE THERE SYMPTOMS FOR KIDNEY DISEASE IN CATS?
Yes. For acute kidney disease, symptoms are sudden and simultaneous. Symptoms are the same for chronic kidney disease but typically develop more slowly and may not be obvious until about 70 percent of the cat’s kidney function is gone.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY DISEASE IN CATS?
Kidney disease has a long list of symptoms. One of the earliest and most obvious is more frequent drinking and urinating, but remember, many symptoms are general and may occur for reasons completely unrelated to kidney disease. Plus, one cat with kidney disease may experience just one or a few of the following, while another cat may experience many more – and different – symptoms:
· Excessive thirst and urination (and possibly dehydration)
· Decreased appetite or refusal to eat
· Weight loss
· Really bad breath
· Muscle weakness
· Joint pain
· Tendency to bleed more easily
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY CAT AVOID KIDNEY PROBLEMS?
First and most importantly, if you think your cat is sick or injured, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian should be your first and best source for the professional medical attention your cat needs.
From an everyday perspective, the following simple steps are a good start to help promote your cat’s kidney health:
· Keep your cat hydrated. On a daily basis, provide access to plenty of fresh water in a clean bowl at all times.
· If your cat ventures outdoors, keep her away from areas that may expose her to toxic substances like antifreeze.
· Do not give your cat over-the-counter drugs unless your veterinarian provides specific instructions to do so.
· Schedule annual visits with your veterinarian.
Chronic kidney disease is more likely to develop in middle-aged and older cats, ages 8 years and older. If your cat falls in this age bracket, make sure a visit to the veterinarian is on your calendar every year, and request periodic examinations for kidney disease.
WHAT IF I THINK MY CAT HAS KIDNEY DISEASE?
If you think your cat may have kidney disease, contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she can conduct an examination, order tests as needed, provide a diagnosis and recommend treatment options.
Sadly, kidney failure in cats does happen. But for cat people, the starting point doesn’t have to be kidney failure; it can be kidney health. That means keeping cats hydrated, preventing exposure to toxins, and seeing a veterinarian annually.
- Shojai A. The Purina Encyclopedia of Cat Care. 1998: 244–7.
- Siegal M. The Cornell Book of Cats. 1989: 209–10, 233–4, 311.