Kidney Failure In Cats… Part Of Getting Old
1 May, 2012

My sister has a cat named Sylvester who is seventeen years old and was in seemingly good health.  He suddenly lost weight and his appetite and my sister was worried.  Unfortunately, his kidneys are not working properly.   I know this is very common in older cats and wanted to find out more about it.

When our beloved feline has kidney damage or failure, he produces more urine and drinks more water to compensate. In the later stages, the kidneys can’t keep up the pace, and wastes sometimes back up in the body, poisoning the cat and can cause vomiting, loss of appetite and/or weight loss.  Unfortunately, once kidney failure reaches this point, it’s usually irreversible.

The best way to detect a kidney problem is by a blood test. Mature cats and cats that show any signs of early kidney disease should be screened for kidney function.

Watch for the signs

Do you notice your cat drinking more? Has he or she suddenly quit eating? Is she listless or depressed? Does she seem to be urinating a lot more or barely at all?  All of these — along with vomiting and diarrhea are signs of a possible kidney problem or infection.

When to Call the Vet

You should call the vet immediately if any of the warning signs of kidney failure show up in your cat. Other problems have similar symptoms and only a thorough exam and blood test can determine if your cat has a kidney problem. The sooner you can catch it, the better the odds will be.

What to do when you detect an issue


Kidney failure is sneaky. Many times, the symptoms are masked or completely invisible until the damage is critical. The typical cat in kidney failure has already lost about seventy percent of his or her kidney function by the time she’s diagnosed.

Veterinarians sometimes talk about what is called the end stage when things start getting that bad. This diagnosis is just what it sounds like. Treatment for end-stage kidney disease can prolong the cat’s life and make her feel better, but the end is inevitable.

This doesn’t mean that every cat showing signs of kidney trouble is doomed. Sometimes an infection can set in and the kidneys will shut down. Quick treatment can stop the infection and get the cat back on his or her feet with very little long-term damage.

The vet will probably give you a strict diet with specific food for this disease.  There is also medication that they will sometimes give you to help your cat with dehydration.

I hope that your cat(s) live a very long life.  However, the reality is that if they do develop kidney failure, their time on this planet is limited, so do your best to make your cat feel comfortable and loved.  My heart goes out to my sister and Sylvester who just passed away as I wrote this article.  We will love him eternally and hope he is happy in kitty heaven.


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