How to spot signs of kidney disease in cats

How To Ensure Your Cat Drinks Enough Water

Luckily for us, most cats enjoy a long and happy life, with some cats reaching the age of 20 years old (That’s 96 in human years!) How long a cat can live for often depends on their diet, healthcare and environment. Unfortunately, as with humans, living into later life brings health issues and with cats, a common condition is kidney disease.

The kidneys play a vital role in filtering impurities and toxic waste products out of the blood into the urine so that your cat can get rid of them.

Failure of the kidneys leads to build up of toxic waste products and other compounds within the bloodstream which ultimately lead to a whole host of problems for your cat.

Two types of kidney disease

There are two types of kidney disease; one Acute Kidney Disease and the second which is Chronic Kidney Disease  a longer, progressive disease.

Acute kidney disease is usually as a result of a sudden and severe or abrupt injury to the kidneys caused by an infection or a toxic substance (antifreeze). If this happens, your cat will quickly become very ill. They may be nauseous, dehydrated, lose their appetite,  drink more and urinate in larger volumes. Acute kidney disease can be permanent but sometimes the damage can be reversed and treated depending on the cause.

Chronic kidney disease is when the kidneys slowly stop working. Because of the slow progression, the signs of chronic kidney disease are difficult to spot and by the time cats show any symptoms, the disease is quite advanced . It’s fairly common in older cats, so it’s a good idea to get your cat regularly checked by a vet if they are over the age of 7.

The earlier you can spot the signs of kidney disease in your cat, the better. It gives vets the chance to slow down the progressive disease and to support your cats quality of life.

 Key Chronic Kidney Disease signs to look out for                                                                                                  

  • Frequently urinating and in large volumes
  • Drinking more water than normal
  • Increasingly lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Gums are not as pink as usual – signs of possible anaemia
  • Vomiting
  • Matted or messy coat

Seek veterinary advice

Don’t delay in taking your cat to the vet if you suspect they have kidney disease. The vet will perform a physical examination and possibly recommend a blood test and urine sample to establish whether Chronic Kidney Disease is something your cat is suffering from.

Treatment focuses on minimising the build-up of toxic waste around the bloodstream, controlling blood pressure, maintaining adequate hydration in order to slow the progressive disease.

Ensure you keep up regular visits with your vets to monitor how your cat is getting along.

Dietary modification

Diets that are restricted in protein, phosphorus and sodium content yet high in water-soluble vitamins, fibre and antioxidents may prolong life and improve the quality of life.

We have a wide range of special kidney diets from our leading brands including Hill’s Prescription Diet,  Royal Canin and Purina Pro Plan Veterinary 

A slow, gradual transition to a new food may be necessary but worth persevering with to ensure your cat keeps eating but at the same time, moves over to more suitable recipes found in specialist food. Top tip, if your cat is struggling to eat dry food, soak it in water first to soften the biscuits, this also adds more water to their diet.

IMPORTANT – You should ONLY move your cat over to a specialist renal/kidney diet food following the diagnosis and recommendation of your vet.

Keeping your cat well hydrated is important and encouraging drinking via water fountains, dripping taps or numerous water bowls dotted about the house all help your cat to find and enjoy water easily. Top tip, some cat bowls are too small making them less appealing to your cat, swap to a larger bowl or a dog bowl.

Living with Chronic Kidney Disease

As with many conditions, the earlier you spot changes in your cat and seek medical advice the better.

Cats with Chronic Kidney Disease can enjoy many happy years after initial diagnosis with regular veterinary visits, medication and dietary care, so if you think your cat is displaying some of these symptoms, don’t delay in getting your cat to the vets so that you can manage this condition.