Kidney Disease in Cats: An Overview

Kidney Diseases in cats

Kidney disease in cats is a prevalent concern among various breeds, from the resilient American Shorthair to the elegant Persian. Renal failure, as it’s also known, signifies a gradual decline in kidney function. These organs are crucial for waste filtration, fluid regulation, and overall health maintenance in felines. Interestingly, some breeds, like the Abyssinian and Siamese, have a genetic predisposition to kidney issues, highlighting the complexity of this condition among different cat lineages.

Causes and the difference between the two stages of kidney failure.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): The most prevalent form in cats, it often develops slowly over months to years due to aging, genetic predisposition, or long-term issues like high blood pressure or infections.

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): This can occur suddenly due to ingesting toxins, infections, urinary obstructions, or certain medications.

Who do I know if my cat is showing Symptoms of this illness:

Identifying symptoms of kidney disease in cats is crucial for timely intervention.

  • Increased Thirst and Urination: Cats may drink more water and urinate more frequently.
  • Weight Loss: Despite a good appetite, cats might lose weight.
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea: Gastrointestinal issues are common.
  • Lethargy and Weakness: Cats might become less active and show signs of weakness.
  • Poor Coat Condition: Fur might appear unkempt or dull.

However, these symptoms can overlap with other ailments, emphasizing the necessity of seeking professional veterinary guidance for an accurate diagnosis.

How to get a diagnosis:

Veterinarians employ various diagnostic tools to ascertain kidney health in cats.

Blood Tests: Measure levels of waste products like creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) to assess kidney function and SDMA to stratify the progression of the failure.

Urinalysis: Helps evaluate the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine and identify urinary tract infections or other issues.

Imaging (X-rays, Ultrasound): Assists in visualizing the kidneys for abnormalities or changes in size.

How can I treat my cat with kidney disease :

  1. Dietary Management: Specialized diets low in protein and phosphorus can support kidney function and slow disease progression.
  2. Fluid Therapy: Subcutaneous or intravenous fluids may be administered to maintain hydration.
  3. Medications: Some medications can manage symptoms, control blood pressure, or help regulate phosphorus levels.
  4. Regular Monitoring: Follow-up appointments and routine blood/urine tests help assess the progression of the disease and adjust treatment as needed.

How do I know the severity of my cat’s kidney disease:

IDEXX Laboratories has a tool called Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) to help vets better understand cat kidney disease. Here’s how it works:

Checking SDMA Levels: SDMA is a signpost for spotting kidney issues early. Vets use a blood test, often during routine check-ups or when they suspect kidney trouble. It’s checked alongside creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN).

Spotting Trouble Early: Even a tiny rise in SDMA levels might show that a cat’s kidneys aren’t working either. This early warning helps vets step in early to help manage the problem.

Tracking Kidney Health: Vets monitor SDMA levels over time to understand how kidney disease changes. By watching how SDMA changes during different vet visits, they can see how fast the kidneys might be getting worse.

Sorting Out the Severity: SDMA helps vets figure out how bad the kidney issue is. It helps them split kidney problems into different stages, from a bit of trouble to more serious problems. This helps vets plan treatments better.

Deciding on Treatment: SDMA results and other info help vets choose the best treatment. This helps them pick the right way to help the cat based on how bad the kidney problem is getting.

Talking to Pet Owners: Vets use SDMA results to talk to pet owners. They explain how their cat’s kidneys are doing, why regular check-ups matter, and if any special diets or medicines might be needed.

Remember, SDMA results are just one piece of the puzzle. Vets need to look at everything together to understand what’s going on. These tips are general, and every cat is different. So, it’s always best to talk to a vet for the full story about a cat’s kidney health.

Understanding the prognosis for a cat diagnosed with kidney disease involves considering the stage at diagnosis, the cat’s response to treatment, and the owner’s ability to manage the condition. For chronic cases, discussions around quality of life and the possibility of euthanasia when no further treatments are viable should be conducted under professional guidance and with the patient’s well-being as the priority.

While kidney disease isn’t curable, early detection, appropriate management, and supportive care significantly enhance a cat’s quality of life and slow disease progression. Collaborating closely with a veterinarian, scheduling regular check-ups, and intervening early can greatly impact managing this condition, ensuring a better life for our feline friends.

Cat owners must work closely with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan to manage kidney disease effectively in their feline companions. Regular veterinary check-ups and early intervention can make a significant difference in managing this condition.

Fun Fact: Some cat breeds have a highly efficient urinary system, capable of concentrating their urine to maintain hydration in arid environments. Their kidneys are adapted to conserve water, allowing them to thrive even in places with limited access to fresh water sources.


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