Pet owners are attuned to the needs of their animals but discovering what is wrong with your pet can be difficult. Even pet owners with the sharpest eyes can miss the warning signs, which is why it’s important you maintain a regular schedule with your local, knowledgeable veterinary provider.

One disease that many cat owners must deal with is kidney (or renal) failure. About 1 in 3 cats suffer from some form of kidney disease, especially older cats. The signs and symptoms of kidney disease in cats are well known to vets, who may be able to prescribe treatment to help with the situation.

Find out more about the symptoms of kidney problems in cats and steps to take to help your pet as they deal with this illness.

How do kidneys in cats work?

Much like humans, kidneys in cats serve several important functions. They primarily help remove waste products from the blood stream. They produce urine, which is a key step in overall health. The kidneys also regulate levels of essential minerals like potassium and play a role in your cat’s ability to conserve water.

What are the signs of kidney failure in cats?

There are two types of kidney diseases that affect cats. Chronic kidney failure occurs over a period of months or years. Slowly, the kidneys lose their ability to filter toxins. Early signs of chronic kidney failure include weight loss and poor coat quality. Sometimes these symptoms may be overlooked by owners, so if you do notice this, bring it to the attention of your veterinary provider. The other kind of kidney issue for cats is of the acute nature.

It can be difficult even for experts to figure out if your cat is dealing with kidney issues. Here are a few more signs and symptoms of renal failure in cats:

  • Lethargy: Your cat may be lacking energy.
  • Increased thirst/urination: Cats with kidney issues begin to lose the ability to concentrate their urine and drink more to compensate.
  • Vomiting
  • Bad-smelling breath
  • Hypertension

Renal failure in cats can happen quickly, usually spurred by a precipitating event, such as:

  • Poisoning: Cats are highly susceptible to suffering serious kidney injuries if they are exposed to cleaning fluids, antifreeze, pesticides, or toxic plants like lilies. Some human medications can lead to a complete shutdown of the kidneys. Make sure your pet can’t access these things in your home.
  • Trauma: If your cat suffers a serious injury in its midsection, it could lead to kidney issues.
  • Blockages: If there is a blockage that prevents or changes the flow of blood into the kidney or the flow of urine out of it, kidney failure can occur.

How do I know if my cat is in pain?

There is no one signal for kidney failure in cats. Stages can take weeks or months to develop. You may notice your cat’s back twitching. This is a symptom of end stage cat kidney failure. Back legs are also important to keep an eye on – if your cat suddenly develops a stiff-legged gait or has rear-leg weakness, kidney problems are likely prevalent within your pet.

What is the treatment plan for cat kidney issues?

Your veterinarian will present you with a plan for feline kidney disease treatment. They will need to know about any signs and symptoms you have seen. They will listen to the cat’s heart, take blood pressure readings, and perform a urinalysis.

Acute kidney failure can be caught and treated if brought to the vet’s attention in time. Most treatments are focused on removing the toxins quickly and restoring balance within the system. Intravenous fluids will be administered.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease. An experienced, compassionate veterinary provider will come up with a plan to slow the disease while keeping your pet happy. Dietary modifications are a critical element to the process. Diets that are high in water-soluble vitamins and contain fiber and antioxidants can help improve your cat’s quality of life. Talk with your vet to determine the best course of action to keep your pet healthy and happy for as long as possible.

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