Feline Kidney Failure

The kidneys are responsible for removing waste products, maintaining water levels, and other significant functions. Feline kidney failure can be termed acute or chronic. Acute occurs when kidney function stops suddenly, while chronic occurs progressively over time.

Feline Kidney Failure


Feline kidney failure can occur for numerous reasons. Physical damage or bacterial infection of the kidneys can cause the condition. Cats who consume antifreeze or other poisons may develop kidney failure too. Some underlying diseases such as feline infectious peritonitis also increase the risk.


The kidneys have a large reserve capacity, so your feline won’t show symptoms until the condition has advanced. Once it does, symptoms of kidney failure in cats include decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and a poor coat. Other signs include pale mucous membranes, bad breath, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination.


Feline kidney failure can be diagnosed in a variety of ways. The vet will palpate the abdomen to check for a change in the shape and size of the kidneys since they may be either shrunken or enlarged. Blood tests can also be performed to check for waste products of protein processing called urea.

Because the kidneys won’t be functioning as normal to get rid of wastes, urea levels will be elevated. Other tests to diagnose kidney failure include x-rays, ultrasounds, and urinalysis.


If your cat is diagnosed with kidney failure, he will likely need fluid therapy to prevent dehydration. This also helps to remove accumulated toxins in the bloodstream. These fluids are typically administered intravenously, so your cat will need to be hospitalized.

Symptoms such as lack of appetite and vomiting can be controlled through the use of medications. Cats that experience anemia may be given medications or blood transfusions. You will also need to provide your cat with plenty of fresh water to drink at home. It’s also important that you limit the amount of stress he experiences.

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