Kidney disease in cats – do you know the signs?

3rd November 2016

If spotted early, kidney disease can be successfully treated in a number of ways – so if you’re worried, don’t hesitate to ask us for advice.

Even if you fear the illness has been affecting your cat for a while, don’t underestimate the importance of investigating the treatment options.

What causes cat kidney disease?

Kidney failure and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) are especially common in older cats, but can affect cats of any age. Wear-and-tear on the kidneys leads to healthy tissue being replaced with scar tissue. If untreated, it can progress to chronic renal failure.

The common causes of kidney failure include:

High-protein diets – cats are obligate carnivores, and need to eat meat all the time. However the high protein levels in their diet will eventually cause a problem. The by-products of protein digestion have to be eliminated from the body. The kidneys do this job, but unfortunately these products can cause damage to the delicate kidney tubules, slowly causing chronic damage.

Chronic infections – dental disease with gingivitis are notorious sources of chronic infection in cats. Over time, the bacteria in the mouth can get dislodged into the blood stream and settle in the kidneys as the blood is filtered. The bacteria will cause inflammation and damage to kidney tissue.

Poisonous substances – pollen from lily plants and antifreeze are very toxic to cats, resulting in significant kidney damage.

Spotting the signs of cat kidney disease

The kidneys eliminate waste and regulate fluid, so you’ll get some important signs if they’re not functioning properly. These include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst and dehydration
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Vomiting
  • A poor-looking coat
  • Bad breath

How do we diagnose kidney disease?

At Bollington Veterinary Centre we perform a variety of tests to look for kidney disease. These include;

  • Monitoring body weight and condition - cats with kidney disease generally start to lose weight and their body condition deteriorates
  • Urine tests - we check urine for traces of protein, as well as measuring the concentration of the urine
  • Blood tests - we measure all sorts of things, including creatinine, urea and phosphorous levels
  • Blood pressure - we like to check a cat’s circulatory pressure as high blood pressure can exacerbate the problem


How do we treat kidney disease?

If kidney disease is confirmed, we may be able to offer the following three treatments:

  • Diet – we’ll tell you exactly what to feed your cat to help its recovery. This will include less protein, more fluid and less phosphorous.
  • Drugs – there are various options in tablet and powder form which can help keep blood pressure at the correct level, thereby protecting kidney cells. Medicine can also be used to stop excessive absorption of phosphorous from food.
  • Fluids – If your cat is severely dehydrated, it may be necessary to hospitalise him or her for a few days so we can give fluid via a drip. We can suggest other methods in less advanced cases.

If you have any worries at all, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. We’ll do everything we can to help.