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How Common Is Kidney Disease In Cats?

by | September 10, 2020 | Pet Care

Vet examining grey and white cat on table

Kidney disease, also sometimes referred to as renal failure, affects around 20 to 50 percent of cats over the age of 15. Unfortunately, kidney disease is one of the most sneaky conditions, making it difficult to diagnose until its later stages. This is because kidney disease symptoms can be extremely subtle and is easily missed by the most attentive pet owner.

Kidney issues are crucial to catch and treat early; therefore, cat owners must take their furry pals to their annual vet visits to avoid this common disease. There are two types of kidney disease that can originate in cats: chronic and acute. It’s important to understand which one your four-legged friend may have in order to determine their treatment and care.

How Does Kidney Disease Develop?

Orange cat at vet for check up

Kidney disease can develop in cats of any breed, age, or gender; therefore, it’s important to know what causes acute and chronic kidney failure.

Chronic kidney failure is usually caused by age; however, there are a few factors that can contribute to rapid decline:

  • Congenital malformations of the kidneys, such as polycystic kidney disease
  • Inflammation to the kidney’s filtration membrane
  • Kidney stones
  • Proteins in the kidney that negatively affect functionality
  • Tumors found within the kidney
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIP) – two reasons it is important for cats to be vaccinated.

Acute kidney failure is caused by:

  • Poisons such as antifreeze, ibuprofen, toxic plants, pesticides, and/or cleaning fluids
  • Overheating in hot weather and rapid dehydration
  • Trauma to the pelvis or bladder
  • Losing a lot of blood quickly
  • Excessive vomiting or diarrhea not treated correctly or timely
  • Kidney infection due to urinary blockages (especially in male cats)
  • An underlying heart disease condition
  • Low blood pressure that is not managed effectively

What Are the Early Signs of Kidney Disease?

Cat pee on hardwood floor

Due to the fact that some cats can be reclusive or independent, many cat owners aren’t able to recognize the early signs of kidney failure. It’s important to monitor how often your cat uses the litter box to note any changes they may be experiencing. Detecting and treating kidney disease during the early stages can help increase the quality of life for your cat will have. Therefore, it’s crucial to tell your doctor even if you’re not sure your cat could be going through kidney issues. Some early signs to look out for include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Bladder or kidney bacterial infections
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Bad breath with an ammonia-like odor
  • Constipation

If your cat is drinking a lot of water, more than usual, this could be an early sign of a kidney issue. Track how much water you give your cat and how long it takes for them to finish their bowl. Increased water intake can be caused by a multitude of different conditions, so you’ll want to consult your vet before jumping to conclusions.

Cat blood in urine should never be ignored, even if it’s just a small amount. If you’re wondering, “is blood in cat urine an emergency?” the answer could be yes. If your cat is peeing blood or you see a lot in their urine, you will want to call their vet immediately and take them to an emergency facility. If it is a small amount, make an appointment and take them as soon as you can. Also, you should always be aware of how much is the average cat weight for their specific breed and age. Knowing this can help you detect if they are gaining or losing weight at an irregular rate.

What Are the Symptoms of End-Stage Kidney Failure In Cats?

Tired and sick cat laying down

Kidney failure progresses over time, so there are vastly different stages of cat kidney failure. If they are not diagnosed early on, your cat may start to experience:

  • Mouth ulcers, especially on their gums or tongue
  • A brownish-colored tongue
  • A dry, rough coat
  • Weakness and indifference
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loose bowels regularly outside of the litter box
  • Not interested in eating or drinking

If your cat is experiencing end-stage kidney failure, it’s important to consult your vet to help manage their pain and accidents. It’s understandable to get frustrated if your cat is having accidents around the house; therefore, set up their bedding and food in a fenced-off area with tile for easy cleanup.

Can You Treat Kidney Disease In Cats?

Xray of cat showing its kidneys in red

Although kidney disease in cats is not curable, cats can continue to live an active life with proper management. Healthy diet changes such as supplementation used, in conjunction with various treatment methods, can help cats living with kidney disease live longer. Your vet will help determine which treatment is best for your cat depending on what stage of kidney disease your cat is currently in. Some of those options may include:

  • Incorporating foods with low protein and low phosphorus
  • Antibiotics
  • Potassium supplements
  • Medication used to lower blood pressure
  • Adding supplements or foods high in vitamin B and C to their diet
  • Treatments used for anemia

How Pet Insurance Can Cover Kidney Disease Treatments

Calico cat getting intravenous treatment

Kidney disease can affect cats at any age, but the majority of diagnoses occur later in life. By enrolling in cat insurance early in their life, you can cover potential medical expenses and treatments associated with kidney disease. Unfortunately, out-of-pocket costs to help manage kidney failure can become expensive depending on the treatment decision your doctor recommends; therefore, pet insurance can come in handy. Without health insurance, kidney disease management can cost upwards of $700 per year.

If you enroll your four-legged friend before kidney issues arise, Prudent Pet Insurance can help cover the costs. At Prudent Pet, we aim to give pet owners peace of mind when it comes to their fur baby’s health. We know getting a kidney disease diagnosis can be overwhelming and worrisome; that’s why we try to make the enrollment and claims process as convenient as possible. If you’re interested in learning more about our policies and coverage, give us a call at 888.820.7739.

Ready to enroll your beloved furry, feline friend? Click here to get a FREE, no-obligation quote to ensure your pet’s health today.

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Jenna Brashear

As one of the most enthusiastic dog lovers in the Chicagoland suburbs, Jenna spends her free-time snuggling and exploring the wilderness (many dog parks and forest preserves) with her best friend, Rudy. Rudy is an adopted Tibetan Terrier mix who enjoys lounging around the house, begging for table scraps, and receiving his daily butt rub. With his black and white coat, curly tail and smelly toots, Rudy is often referred to as our little skunk. Rudy’s favorite past-time is barking at the waves created by our paddle boat and chasing the pesky rabbits out of his yard. We are enamored with him and can’t believe how lucky we are to call Rudy our furbaby.