Kidney Disease Symptoms In Cats (What You Need To Know)

In this post we’ll be looking at kidney disease symptoms in cats, including signs often missed in younger felines. Plus tips on keeping your cat’s kidneys healthy to avoid long term damage.

Cat’s are masters of disguise!

Though your cat may seem fine on the surface she could be hiding uncomfortable or painful symptoms. In the wild, sick animals are very vulnerable and at risk of attack from predators.

She may be the most pampered cat in your neighbourhood but she’ll still do her best to hide any pain or sickness from you. It’s your job as her carer to look out for signs she may be developing kidney disease.

Why senior cats are more prone to kidney disease and what you need to know.

In some ways your cat is very similar to a human. They experience many of the same health issues associated with old age including problems with kidneys. By the time your cat reaches 7 years old she’s already considered a senior. Her kidneys may not be as efficient in removing toxins, and you may start to notice certain symptoms.

These may include drinking more water than usual, and urinating more frequently. Of course there are many other elderly cat health problems, but in this post we’ll be focusing on the kidneys. Cats in particular are known for developing kidney disease in old age. It often progresses very slowly with no outward signs. This is known as chronic kidney disorder or CKD

In fact over half of cats over the age of fifteen suffer from some degree of kidney disorder. If you own an older cat your vet may have already diagnosed this.

When loss of appetite can be a sign of kidney disease

loss of appetite can be a sign of kidney disease in cats

Though cats are clever at putting on a brave face when they’re not feeling well, if you notice your kitty isn’t eating it’s a sure sign something’s wrong. Loss of appetite can be a sign of illness with kidney problems being something to bear in mind. You may also notice your cat has lost weight and feels a lot lighter when you pick her up.

Try introducing tasty treats in kitty’s diet to encourage her to eat. You may find a little bit of plain boiled rice and chicken does the trick! You must take your cat to the vet if you notice any of the symptoms I mention in this post. Cats can go downhill very fast, so never ignore worrying signs.

High blood pressure- don’t miss this critical sign!

Unlike humans, hypertension in cats is fairly uncommon in cats, However, if your cat starts showing odd behaviour such as circling or seems disorientated, this can be a sign of high blood pressure and kidney failure. High blood pressure in cats almost always has underlying causes, with kidney disease being one of them. This is far more common in older cats though. Many vets now routinely check blood pressure in elderly cats in the same way as older people. Most cats don’t mind and are very laid back about it!

Why you shouldn’t ignore frequent trips to the litter box.

frequent trips to the litter box are one of the signs of kidney disease in cats

If you start noticing your cat using the litter box more than normal you may need to get her checked out. Spending more time scratching around in the litter, or straining to urinate are tell tale signs she may have an infection.

Chronic kidney problems in senior cats can sometimes result in bacterial infections. Your vet will probably prescribe a course of antibiotics after doing a few tests including urine and blood.

Even if your cat seems fine it’s a good idea to keep an eye on her toilet habits as they are an indication of health. Any sign of blood in the urine must be reported to your vet as soon as possible. The quicker you take action the easier it will be to treat.

When accidents outside the litter box are signs of kidney disease in cats

The occasional accident is nothing to worry about, but if your kitty starts peeing in inappropriate places you need to be concerned. Larger volumes of urine and accidents on the carpet are signs your cat’s kidneys are not functioning well.

In contrast, if you notice your cat is having a hard time producing much urine or none at all this is a critical sign of kidney failure.

Does your cat have bad breath?

Bad breath is often a sign of gum disease or tooth decay, but in cats it can also mean the kidneys are not functioning so well. If you notice your cat’s breath has an odor similar to amonia this may be a sign of kidney disease.

When diarrhea and vomiting are a serious cause for concern

All cats vomit from time to time. Hairballs, eating something they shouldn’t or an intolerance to certain brands of food can make your cat sick.

However, if it becomes chronic and your cat also has diarrhea it could be down to poorly functioning kidneys, especially if your cat is elderly. Continued diarrhea and vomiting will make your cat dehydrated. Dehydration can be very serious so it’s essential you try and encourage your cat to drink. 

A very sick cat may lose all interest in food, but a little bit of plain boiled rice and chicken can be tempting. Add a few drops of water to moisten and at least your cat will get some hydration.

Water fountains are a good idea as cats often prefer running water to a bowl that’s stagnant. If you’ve ever seen your cat trying to drink from the kitchen sink tap you’ll know what I mean!

What you can do to help keep your cat’s kidneys healthy

Cats are notoriously bad at not drinking. Ensure your precious kitty has a constant supply of fresh water. Leave a water fountain on the floor near your cat’s food bowl. Give your cat wet food as the main part of her diet. By all means provide kibbles as well, but wet food provides a high amount of moisture. This ensures your kitty gets sufficient fluids. Even if your cat is reluctant to drink at least you know she’s getting some water intake from her food.

Keep an eye on your cat’s weight. Just the same as humans, obesity can cause diseases such as diabetes which can eventually result in kidney failure. Ensuring your cat gets plenty of exercise can help prevent this.

Regular check ups with your vet ensures any sign of kidney disease can be treated in it’s early stages. Most vets recommend an annual visit especially once your cat reaches middle age.

Signs of sudden kidney failure in cats caused by toxins

Chronic kidney disease is far more common in older cats, but kidney failure caused by toxins can occur at any age. You’ll know immediately something is wrong as symptoms will be very sudden. The rapid onset of vomiting and diarrohea, and drinking excessively are sure signs to call your vet for an emergency visit.

It’s possible your cat may have eaten poisonous plant leaves, or licked poisonous substances such as antifreeze. Unfortunately, if your cat goes outside there’s no way of knowing what she’ll get up to.

Your cat will probably be put on an intravenous drip to get rid of any toxins and replace lost electrolytes. This can take a couple of days so she or he will need to stay in hospital.

Spot kidney problems before they develop and avoid long term damage

Signs to look out for that I’ve covered here today should give you a clear indication if your cat is developing kidney disease. As mentioned previously, signs of kidney disease symptoms in cats are often hard to spot. Your kitty is a master at hiding illness, so monitoring her health is vital

Remember, treating it early can prolong your cat’s life and maintain her wellbeing. Never ignore symptoms in cats as it will only get worse. A sick kitty can be a sad and sorry sight for a pet parent

Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂


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