Friday, April 12, 2024

What Causes Kidney Failure In Cats

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What Is Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is a condition where over time, the function of the kidneys deteriorates. This results in the bodys inability to remove waste matter and purify the blood. The signs that your cat is experiencing kidney problems will likely only become obvious when the disease has already progressed. Being aware that this is a common disease will assist you in spotting the symptoms earlier.

What Are The Clinical Signs Of Acute Renal Failure

The clinical signs of ARF may include sudden anorexia , listlessness, vomiting , diarrhea that also may contain blood, a strange breath odor, and/or seizures. Some cats will urinate more frequently while others may not be producing any urine at all. There may be a recent history of ingestion of a toxin or of recent trauma, surgery, or illness. Many cats are in shock by the time they reach the veterinary hospital. The veterinarian will frequently find enlarged and painful kidneys during the physical examination.

How Is Kidney Failure In Cats Treated

The goal of treating kidney failure is to slow the progression of the disease and manage symptoms. Depending on the symptoms and their stages, treatment options may include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, vitamin injections, medication to manage nausea, supplements to correct low potassium levels, and other measures.

Our Huntersville vets are experienced at treating many conditions and diseases in cats, including co-occuring illnesses. Using advanced technology in our in-house lab, our veterinary team can provide same-day testing and results for efficient, effective care.

For cats with end stage kidney failure, nursing them in their final days will mean keeping them warm and comfortable, with food, water and a litter box nearby, as well as lots of quiet human companionship.

If your cat is in pain with seizures, regular vomiting and soiling, you may want to discuss with your vet whether euthanization should be considered. Though this is probably the most difficult part of pet ownership, if all other measures have failed, it may be time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your cat showing signs of kidney disease or other serious illness? At LakeCross Veterinary Hospital, our Huntersville vets can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. today.

Chronic Kidney Failure In Cats

Chronic kidney disease is described as abnormal kidney structure or function which has lasted over three months,â says Dr. Mar. CKD is most commonly diagnosed in older cats. âWhen diagnosed, we use a system called IRIS staging to stage the severity of a patientâs kidney failure,â she says. âThis staging is based on the presence of symptoms and values found on bloodwork which are correlated to the kidneys .â

Causes Of Renal Failure In Cats

Kidney Disease in Older Cats

There are a number of things that can cause acute or chronic renal failure in a cat. Anything that affects a cat’s kidney function or any type of kidney disease could result in renal failure. The following list contains some of the most common reasons for renal failure in cats.

  • Ingestion of a toxin – Antifreeze, various plants like lilies, and even some human foods like grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in cats.
  • Urinary blockage – If a cat is unable to urinate, damage to the kidneys can occur which can lead to renal failure.
  • Systemic shock – If a cat’s blood flow is disrupted due to shock, kidney damage and ultimately renal failure can happen.
  • Heart failureHeart failure can lead to kidney damage due to increased pressure in blood vessels.
  • Low or high blood pressure – If left untreated, abnormal blood pressure in cats can lead to renal failure.
  • Medications – Various medications may have side effects that cause kidney damage. This can eventually lead to renal failure.
  • Pyelonephritis – Like other forms of kidney disease, pyelonephritis can lead to renal failure.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis – This disease can cause severe inflammation in the kidneys leading to renal failure.
  • DiabetesHigh blood sugar levels can cause kidney damage resulting in renal failure.

Treatment Of Kidney Failure In Cats

Acute Kidney Failure Treatment

Cats who have acute kidney failure due to trauma or poisoning will often recover once the primary issue that caused the kidney failure is addressed. This may include surgery, medications, fluid therapy or blood transfusions. If the kidneys don’t respond after the primary issue is treated, other courses of treatment will need to occur in order to address the kidney failure.


Hemodialysis or dialysis is a procedure in which a machine acts like the kidneys, filtering out the wastes and toxins that build up in the bloodstream. Dialysis can be used to treat cats with chronic kidney disease or to remove a poison from a cat with acute kidney disease. Unfortunately, dialysis is only available at certain veterinary hospitals in the United States and can be extremely costly. 

Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplants in cats require an experienced team of veterinary surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nursing staff. As such, they are only performed in a few veterinary hospitals in the United States. During the kidney transplant, a healthy kidney from a deceased donor cat will be transplanted into the cat with kidney failure. Medications will need to be administered in order to ensure the cat’s body doesn’t reject the donor kidney.


Are There Different Types Of Kidney Failure In Cats

There are two types of kidney failure in cats, and they differ in causes, treatment options and prognosis.

Acute Renal Failure

This type of kidney failure occurs suddenly, within days or weeks. It can happen in cats of any age and typically results from poisons, disorders, diseases, organ failure, medications and other causes.

Acute renal failure can often be reversed if caught in time.

Chronic Kidney Failure

With chronic kidney failure, the kidneys gradually stop working over months or years as they lose the ability to filter the blood of toxins. This type of kidney failure can lead to total kidney failure.

Is There A Treatment For Acute Kidney Failure In Cats

If your cat is diagnosed with acute kidney failure , your veterinarian will recommend hospitalization.

In acute kidney failure, toxins are building up in a cats bloodstream due to the kidneys inability to function. Acute kidney failure also causes electrolyte imbalances and severe dehydration. Because of these dangerous factors, a cat will need to be on IV fluids in order to help flush the toxins in their system and take some of the stress off of the kidneys.

Most cats require a minimum of 48 hours on IV fluids to see changes in their blood work.

Acute kidney failure can also cause a list of uncomfortable symptoms, so they will also receive supportive care during their stay.

Acute kidney failure is a serious situation, so there is no guarantee that aggressive hospitalization will reverse this condition. Though survival is not guaranteed, aggressive care is the only way to possibly combat acute kidney failure.

Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats: Stages & Life Expectancy

Kidney disease in cats is an illness that nearly 30% of senior cats will face. Understanding the stages and signs of kidney disease can help to extend your cats life, and keep them comfortable for as long as possible through this stage of their life.

In this article, we discuss the essential information you need to know about CKD in cats, and what that means for your feline.

  • How Long Can Cats Live with CKD?
  • Signs of End of Life
  • Final Thoughts

How Is Kidney Failure In Cats Is Diagnosed & Treated

Your vet will do a comprehensive examination of your cat, including blood and urine tests, X-rays, and possibly an ultrasound. A kidney biopsy might also be required. 

If kidney disease is found, treatments could include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, vitamin injections, supplements, medications, and possibly surgery to remove blockages. When treating kidney failure the goal is to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. 

You can support your cats treatment with a carefully managed diet and plenty of clean fresh water. Your vet will recommend that you gradually transition your cat to a kidney diet that is low in both phosphorus and protein and is enriched with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.  

For cats with end stage kidney failure palliative care will be required in their final days. This will include keeping them warm and comfortable, with food, water and a litter box nearby, as well as lots of loving human companionship.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of kidney failure contact our Greensboro Vets right away or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital.

Symptoms Of Kidney Failure

If your cats kidneys arent removing waste from his or her body, you may notice many signs. General symptoms of kidney failure in cats can include:

  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Excess thirst

Additionally, indications of acute kidney failure include an arched back or stiff-legged gait , and either frequent or no urination.

Because chronic kidney failure may gradually progress over years, you may not notice it. By the time you see symptoms, the disease may already have advanced.

However, with appropriate treatment some cats that have experienced chronic kidney failure live a good quality of life for years to come.

Symptoms of chronic kidney failure include easily bruising or bleeding, and increased urination.

Renal Failure In Cats

The diet is vital in these circumstances. We must be attentive to the amount of water you drink, since the chances of dehydration are very high. Since felines extract most of the liquid from food, it is best to give them wet food instead of dry feed. We must be aware that we are talking about a malfunction of the kidneys, so your food should be low in protein. The reason is simple the most of the toxins are produced by protein decomposition. So low-protein foods will produce less concentration of toxins.

However we must be cautious when it comes to reducing the amount of protein, as this would end up causing the cat to lose a lot of weight you even get more information from why is my cat losing weight. It is best to flee from homemade food and opt for specific food for cats with kidney failure. It will also be normal for the veterinarian to advise a diet low in phosphorus or the administration of elements that reduce its absorption.

Medications For Cat Kidney Disease

symptoms of cat renal failure

Depending on your cats lab test results or symptoms, she may need the following medications or supplements to help manage chronic kidney disease: 

  • Blood pressure medication: amlodipine, telmisartan 
  • Ace inhibitors: benazepril 
  • Appetite stimulant: mirtazapine 
  • Anti-nausea medication: maropitant

Cats in stages III and IV may also benefit from receiving subcutaneous fluidsfluids administered under the skinto treat dehydration. Pet parents can be taught to perform this at home to reduce costs and stress on the kitty. 

Marietta Vet Clinicdr Julian Peckich

At Marietta Vet Clinic, we offer comprehensive, high-quality care at our state-of-the-art facility. We strive to create the most welcoming, pleasant experience for you and your furry friend. Dr. Peckich is affiliated with the American Veterinary Medical Association and has been providing specialized care for nearly ten years. 

Stage 4: Cats Kidneys Are Now Functioning At Less Than 15%

With creatine levels above 5, stage 4 kidney disease in cats can be scary.

Treatments from stage 1 through 3 will continue.

Anemia will likely be a problem at this point, so your vet will want to treat that with medications.

Making your pet comfortable will be a top priority now.

Acute renal failure or any sudden worsening of symptoms could require extended hospitalization for your cat.

How Does Kidney Failure Occur

Kidney failure occurs when at least two-thirds of each kidney is damaged. With this much damage, the kidneys cannot perform their essential functions.

Kidney failure can be acute or chronic.

Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop working. Some of the many causes of acute kidney failure are toxin ingestion and shock.

Chronic kidney failure, also called chronic kidney disease, develops over many years. It usually begins when cats are about six years old and becomes progressively worse as the nephrons slowly die. When more nephrons die than can be replaced, kidney failure becomes apparent.

Chronic kidney failure is much more common than acute kidney failure in cats, so well focus on chronic kidney failure.

If My Cat Improves Is Treatment Concluded

No. Your cats kidneys are still damaged; they will never be normal again. Without continued treatment your cat will soon be back in kidney failure. Therefore, home treatment is vital. Its goal is to keep the kidneys functioning as long as possible. This is accomplished with one or more of the following, depending on the situation:

Kidney Disease In Cats: Causes Signs And Treatment

Chronic kidney disease is one of the most common diseases in older cats. However, it can occur in animals of any age. There are multiple causes of kidney disease and one of the very frustrating things about this disease is that often by the time it is identified, the cause itself is no longer present and is no longer treatable. And by the time there are obvious abnormalities in kidney blood values, which is a common mode of kidney disease detection, you have marked kidney disease.

The best method of early detection is a urinalysis. But usually animals with early renal disease are not showing any signs of illness, or if they are, the signs are minimal. So, unless its part of a routine wellness check with astute techs and vets, the disease is often missed.

How Do The Kidneys Work

When it comes to kidney function, the key word to remember is nephron. Nephrons are the functional units of the kidney. Were all born with more nephrons than we need and as we age, nephrons die off by simple wear and tear and through disease. If too many nephrons are lost, renal failure develops when it happens quickly, its acute and when it happens gradually, its chronic.

The anatomy and physiology of the kidney

One reason cats are more prone to kidney disease than other species is that they dont start their lives with as many spare nephrons. For example:

  • cats start out with about 200,000 nephrons in each kidney

  • dogs have about 400,000 per kidney

  • humans have somewhere around 1,000,000 in each kidney

We can help our cats live longer lives with good diets and advances in medical care, but we cant give them more nephrons.

What Are The Symptoms Of End

Sometimes, the signs of kidney failure in cats are not caught early enough and the disease progresses to its end-stage. Symptoms of end-stage kidney failure in cats include general symptoms listed above, as well as dull, sunken eyes, inability to walk, body odor, incontinence in bladder or bowels seizures, confusion, refusal to eat or drink, twitching, blindness, pacing and restlessness, withdrawing, hiding and running away.

Though more than one of these symptoms will be present, you may not see all of them. There may also be a sudden improvement in their symptoms, but do not let this fool you.

With kidney failure, there are no easy answers, as different symptoms may be present at different times. These symptoms can also be signs of other illnesses, which is why early diagnosis, disease management and communication with your vet is critical.

When it comes to symptoms of kidney failure in cats, the stage is key to prognosis. While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease if its detected and treated early your cats longevity and quality of life can be improved.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Cat With Kidney Disease

SDMA Biomarker Can Detect Chronic Kidney Disease Earlier ...

I know that this is the biggest question on the minds of any pet parent facing renal failure with their cats.

As much as I wish I could give you an answer, there simply isnt one set in stone.

Life expectancy for cats with kidney disease can be as short as a month or extend out for many years. There are far too many factors for each individual cat to give a direct answer to everyone.

For acute renal failure, life expectancy is heavily influenced by the original cause of the renal failure and any complications since.

If it was due to traumatic injury, and you responded immediately, your cats life expectancy will be greater than if he had received no treatment at all.

At the same time, certain injuries just cant be treated.

Cats suffering chronic renal failure tend to have a higher life expectancy than those suffering from acute renal failure.

This is especially true if the disease is caught early and intervention begins immediately.

Risk Factors For Developing Renal Failure

Some cat breeds are thought to be at a higher risk of developing renal failure than others. These include Persians, Abyssinians, Siamese, Ragdolls, Burmese, Russian Blues, and Maine Coons. These breeds may benefit from regular evaluation of kidney function alongside kidney support supplements.

  • Littman MP. Genetic basis for urinary tract diseases. In: Elliott J, Grauer GF and Westropp JL . BSAVA Manual of canine and feline nephrology and urology. 3rd ed, BSAVA 2017: 172-184.

  • What Are The Symptoms

    Everyone knows that in an animal, drinking lots of water can be a sign of kidney disease, but this can also be a symptom of other illnesses. Cats are discreet and may be secret drinkers, so early signs of excess thirst may be missed and they may become quite ill before treatment is sought. As kidney disease advances, other symptoms include weight loss, signs of dehydration, poor appetite, smelly breath, a sore mouth, vomiting and weakness. Eventually there may be twitchiness or even fits. However, these symptoms are common to many illnesses, not just kidney disease.

    What Are The Signs Of Kidney Disease

    Its possible to experience kidney damage but not show any signs of kidney disease. Because we have more nephrons than we need, we can cope with some kidney damage. In fact, people can lose 90% of their nephrons before experiencing any symptoms!

    The early symptoms in people are vague and we probably miss these in cats. Later signs include:

    • decreased appetite

    • a brownish colour to the tongue

    • weakness

    The signs are the same whether were looking at acute or chronic disease acute disease just has a rapid onset. It is possible for a cat with CKD to develop an acute injury and then we see a sudden worsening of disease. This is often referred to as acute on chronic renal failure.

    Unproven Treatments For Kidney Disease In Cats

    Its scary when your beloved companion is diagnosed with kidney disease.

    The thought of losing your best friend may push you to investigate unproven treatments.

    While nobody can blame you for exploring every available avenue, you should never treat your cat for renal failure without the supervision of your veterinary team.

    With that said, some controversial and complex therapies can be discussed with your vet.

    They include hemodialysis, which removes toxic waste products from the bloodstream, and kidney transplantation.

    Or I came across this site that delved into the area of holistic healing using the EFT Tapping Method.

    It may sound a bit woo-woo or just plain unbelievable but keep an open mind.

    Not all vets are right.

    Not all vets know holistic ways of healing.

    Not all vets know everything.

    When you feel totally helpless and your cat is suffering, you WILL try anything to make them better.

    Best Cat Food For Cats With Kidney Disease

    If you conclude that your cat still has a good enough quality of life, it is important that you still feed him/her specific food to help them combat their kidney disease. The best food for cats with kidney disease is .

    If your cat is underweight, you should check out my article on how to help a cat with kidney disease gain weight.

    How Is Chronic Kidney Disease Managed

    If a specific cause for the CKD is identified , treatment may be possible to arrest the progression of the disease. In most cases though, treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Some cats may require initial intravenous fluid therapy to correct dehydration , but once stable, treatment is aimed at supporting kidney function and minimising the complications of CKD. Despite therapy, CKD cannot be reversed and in most cases will also progress over time.

    Optimal management of kidney disease usually requires repeat investigations at regular intervals to identify treatable complications as they arise, eg, anaemia, low potassium, high phosphate, urinary infections, and hypertension. Dietary modification is important in cats with CKD to improve quality of life and slow progression of disease, but a variety of other treatments may be valuable also, depending on individual needs. Sometimes multiple drug therapies may be needed, but if it is difficult to administer medications to your cat, these may need to be prioritised. Monitoring progression of kidney disease si also important thorugh regular blood and urine tests.

    What Is The Treatment For Hyperthyroidism

    There are two common options tablets or surgery. However, even if surgery is chosen, tablets are used in the first instance, to stabilise your pet’s condition ready for an anaesthetic. Tablets do not cure the condition, but block the excessive production of thyroid hormone, and need to be given lifelong, usually two or three times daily, at regularly spaced intervals . Surgery may provide a cure. As all animals have two thyroid glands, the size of both are inspected at surgery, then one or both removed if they are enlarged. If both are removed, either together or in two separate operations, this may carry an increased risk of post-surgical complications. If one gland is left, it may later start producing an excess of thyroid hormone. There is no rule on whether both glands should be removed together or in separate procedures, and your vet will advise you on the best option for your cat. A third option is radioactive iodine therapy, but this is only available at some specialist centres and is expensive. It usually destroys all abnormal thyroid tissue, but does mean that the cat has to be hospitalised for three to six weeks.

    What Is Kidney Failure

    Kidney Disease In Cats Symptoms

    Kidney failure can either develop slowly due to a chronic disease or occur suddenly due to poisoning or trauma. Both types must be addressed immediately in order to save the cat’s life.

    The kidneys are responsible for several necessary life functions, which include maintaining proper blood pressure levels, filtering toxins and wastes from the bloodstream, excreting the wastes through urine, contributing to the production of red blood cells, and producing a variety of essential enzymes and hormones. Approximately 30 percent of cats will develop kidney disease during their lifetime; many of these cases will progress to kidney failure. When the kidneys fail to perform properly, the cat’s life is at risk.

    Kidney Failure Average Cost

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    #1 Urination And Drinking

    These are usually the first symptom owners of chronic renal disease cats notice: Large volumes of urine clotting the clumping kitty litter. And lots of water downed in record time. Though these are sad signs of kidney disease, theyâre also an important indicator of the kidneysâ continuing ability to function.

    What Is Acute Renal Failure

    Acute renal failure or acute kidney failure refers to the sudden failure of the kidneys to perform normal filtration duties. This is not the same as the much more common form of kidney failure called chronic kidney disease . ARF leads to accumulation of toxins and other metabolic wastes in the bloodstream, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and disturbances in the acid-base balance of the blood. ARF is potentially reversible if diagnosed early and treated aggressively. Older cats are at higher risk for developing ARF.

    “ARF is potentially reversible if diagnosed early and treated aggressively.”

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