Cats are lovable creatures. Just like in humans, kidneys play an important role in the cat’s body. Cats have a pair of kidneys that help in the removal of toxic substances from the cat’s body, maintain acid-base balance, and overall management of osmoregulation. Many cat owners ask questions about the different kidney problems in cats such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) and other related things. For examples,
How can I know if my cat has kidney problems?
What are the main reasons for kidney problems in cats?
What should I do if my cat has kidney problems?
Can kidney problems kill my cat?
In this blog, we will discuss “kidney problems in cats” along with other relevant facts under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.
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What Are Important Causes Of Kidney Problems In Cats?
As discussed earlier, kidneys are vital organs that take part in several essential activities in the cat’s body. There are many causes of renal problems in cats. However, we have summarized some important key reasons:
There are varieties of toxins that damage the cat’s kidneys. The household chemicals/disinfectants are also toxic for your cat. These toxic chemicals can cause kidney damage. All along with that, various medications i-e aspirin, paracetamol, and some NSAIDS are also toxic for the cat’s kidneys. Being a responsible owner, keep these chemicals and medications away from the reach of your beloved feline friend.
- Kidney stones
Kidney stones are also a major reason for renal problems. There are many reasons for renal stones which include genetics, chronic bacterial infection, poor dietary habits, and various cat foods. These stones cause discomfort to your cat. All along with that, they damage the kidneys and cause various severe complications.
- Kidney infections
There are a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi which cause kidney infections in cats. The important kidney infection that occurs due to infection is “ Pyelonephritis”. E.coli and Staphylococcus bacteria are the major players in this infection. Over and above, important feline viral infections include feline peritonitis virus and feline leukemia virus. These viruses are the major reasons for kidney infections in cats.
- Kidney tumors:
Kidney tumors also lead to life-threatening kidney problems such as chronic kidney disease (CKD). For example, renal lymphosarcoma.
This is an important reason for renal dysfunction. It refers to the accumulation of abnormal (mutated) proteins in the kidneys of a cat. These proteins interfere with the normal functions of kidneys and lead to severe complications in cats.
- Congenital complications:
Congenital renal defects are also important to consider while discussing kidney problems in cats. These disorders also interfere with the proper functioning of a cat’s kidneys. For example, polycystic kidney disease in long-haired cats is one of the good examples of congenital renal defects.
What Are Two Common Types Of Kidney Problems In Cats?
Generally, we have divided kidney problems into two main types in cats.
- Acute kidney disease/failure
- Chronic kidney disease/failure
Acute kidney disease/failure:
This type of kidney problem happens suddenly or just within a few days and weeks. The important causes of acute kidney disease include various poisons such as antifreeze and a number of toxic plants (Lilies).
All along with that, cleaning fluids and pesticides also cause sudden renal shut down in cats. Try to keep eye on your cat and keep these harmful things away from her reach.
Chronic kidney disease/failure:
These types of kidney problems progress slowly over the period of months to several years. Generally, such kidney problems occur in middle or old-age cats.
The key reasons for chronic kidney disease/failure include untreated kidney infections, renal blockages, cancer, prolonged blood pressure, and advanced dental disease.
What Are The General Signs And Symptoms Of Kidney Problems In Cats?
Cat with kidney problems shows a variety of signs and symptoms. However, for a better understanding of the readers, we have only summarized some important signs and symptoms.
- Abrupt weakness. This is an important sign of kidney problem.
- Sudden weight loss
- Bad breath ( This is an important indicator of kidney problem)
- Increased thirst
- Diarrhea (may be bloody)
- Vomiting ( may be bloody)
- Sharp pain (this is mostly seen in acute kidney disease)
- Easy bruising or bleeding and increased frequency of urination is important indicators of chronic kidney disease.
What Are The Key Symptoms Of End-Stage Kidney Disease In Cats?
Usually, the signs and symptoms of end-stage kidney disease in cats are the same as above. However, along with these signs, the cat shows generalized dullness, sunken eyes, inability to walk, characteristic body odor, confusion, anorexia, restlessness, pacing, hiding, and running away.
Note: This is better to early diagnose the underlying kidney problems. Early diagnosis guarantees the early treatment and better health of your cat.
Does Genetics Play A Role In Kidney Problems?
Yes, genetics also play an important role in the causation of chronic kidney disease (CRD) in cats. Such kidney problems run from generation to generation.
How Kidney Problems Can Be Diagnosed In Cats?
There are various ways to diagnose kidney problems in cats. For instance, a vet can diagnose kidney problems with the apparent signs and symptoms. All along with that, your vet can recommend RFT (Renal function tests), Blood urea nitrogen, and other blood tests.
- Blood creatinine
- Serum biochemistry – Calcium, Potassium , Phosphorus
- Red blood cells and white blood cells counts
- Microalbuminurea (Presence of small albumin particles in the urine)
- Specific gravity of urine
Can Cats With Kidney Diseases Live Longer?
This thing totally depends upon the type of kidney problem and the extent of renal damage. In addition, with better management and timely treatment, your cat can live longer and enjoy a quality life.
What Kind Of Food I Should Give To My Cat With A Kidney Problem?
Diet plays an important role in the overall well-being of your cat. Always select a kidney-friendly diet for your beloved cat. This is a great idea to offer a cat with a low phosphorous, protein, and high vitamin D diet. Also, remember that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids also helps a cat with kidney problems.
Note: High salt (sodium chloride) diets are never recommended for a cat with kidney problems. As high sodium increases blood pressure and worsens kidney damage.
Can I Give Fish Oil To My Cat With Kidney Disease?
Yes, fish oil contains a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements help a cat with kidney diseases. This is important to take recommendations from an expert veterinarian in this regard.
What Are Phosphate Binders?
These are specialized substances that can be given to cats with persistent higher levels of blood phosphorous. Certain phosphorous binders such as aluminum hydroxide bind with the phosphorous and reduce its absorption through the gut.
How Do Potassium Supplementations Help Cats With Renal Disease?
This is a general observation that cats with kidney problems tend to lose potassium through urine. Excessive loss of potassium decreases the quality of a cat’s life. It causes muscle weakness and poor hair quality. Always use supplements after taking a proper prescription from a certified vet.
How Can Be Kidney Problems Treated In Cats?
The treatments of kidney problems depend upon many factors. However, your vet may recommend IV fluid therapy to correct the dehydration. Your vet may suggest certain antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Anti-emetics drugs can also be given to reduce vomiting/nausea and improve appetite.
All along with that, vitamin C and D supplements can also be given to a cat with kidney problems. As you know, kidneys are the major organs that are involved in blood synthesis. Renal dysfunction also causes anemia in cats. So, various hematinics can also be given to cure anemia.
Last but not least, your vet can recommend several blood pressure-lowering medications to normalize the blood pressure of your cat.
Kidney problems are common in cats. There are various types of kidney problems such as acute and chronic ones. A cat with kidney problems shows a variety of signs and symptoms such as lethargy, frequent urination, increased thirst, change in the color of tongue and urine, severe pain (in case of renal blockage), body odor, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Being a responsible owner, this is your duty to observe these signs and report them to a vet as early as possible. Your vet may suggest you the best treatment plan according to the current health status of your beloved cat.
Cannon, M.J., Barr, F.J., Rudorf, H., Bradley, K.J., Gruffydd‐Jones, T.J. and MacKay, A.D., 2001. Prevalence of polycystic kidney disease in Persian cats in the United Kingdom. Veterinary Record, 149(14), pp.409-411.
Paepe, D., Saunders, J.H., Bavegems, V., Paes, G., Peelman, L.J., Makay, C. and Daminet, S., 2012. Screening of ragdoll cats for kidney disease: a retrospective evaluation. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 53(10), pp.572-577.
Wakeling, J., Moore, K., Elliott, J., and Syme, H., 2008. Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism in cats with mild chronic kidney disease. Journal of small animal practice, 49(6), pp.287-294Wakeling, J., Moore, K., Elliott, J. and Syme, H., 2008. Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism in cats with mild chronic kidney disease. Journal of small animal practice, 49(6), pp.287-294.