10 Signs Your Cat May Have Kidney Disease


Kidney disease is a serious condition that can only be diagnosed by your veterinarian, so you should be aware of the most common signs in case it’s something you need to look out for. Your cat may have kidney disease if he or she has any of the following symptoms.


1) Weakness

A cat that has weak hind legs or can’t stand up on its own is likely experiencing a side effect of kidney disease. Some cats are also sensitive to light and will struggle to walk around when there is excess light in their environment. Look for signs of straining, weakness, dragging feet, slowed movement, and lethargy.

If you notice any of these symptoms from your pet, it could be due to kidney disease. You should seek veterinary care immediately if you think your cat may have kidney disease.


2) Weight Loss

Excess body weight puts a strain on your cat’s kidneys. If you notice your cat is gaining weight and losing muscle mass, bring her in for an exam. Also, be on the lookout for decreased appetite and water consumption—these can be signs of kidney disease as well.

Healthy cats should drink at least two or three times their body weight in water every day, so if your cat’s water intake drops by more than 50 percent, she may have kidney issues. A sudden increase in urination (especially throughout the night) is another indicator that something might be wrong with your cat’s kidneys.

A diagnosis from your veterinarian will confirm whether there are any underlying health problems causing these symptoms.


3) Reduced appetite

Cats with kidney disease often exhibit changes in their eating habits. Their appetites may drop, for example, and they may also show a tendency to eat larger portions more frequently. If your cat has lost weight and doesn’t seem interested in food, schedule an appointment with your vet.

As kidneys fail, they lose their ability to remove excess fluids from your cat’s body; as a result, he may drink large amounts of water to compensate. But since his appetite is reduced, it’s not uncommon for him to become dehydrated. This can lead to vomiting or diarrhea, which are other common symptoms of kidney failure.

Be sure to keep a close eye on your cat’s water intake, especially if you notice any signs of illness.


4) Difficulty urinating (known as pollakiuria or polyuria)

Urinating more often is a natural part of aging, but it’s also one of many symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The term difficulty urinating can be used to describe the decreased force of urine expulsion, which may cause your cat to look like he or she is straining to urinate.

These symptoms are usually experienced by both male and female cats as they get older. Older males often develop enlarged prostate glands that press against their urethra and make it difficult for them to pee. In females, cysts on their ovaries may affect bladder function.

Cysts and polyps in other parts of the urinary tract can also lead to difficulty urinating. If you notice any changes in your cat’s ability to urinate, take him or her to see a veterinarian right away.


5) Increased drinking water (polydipsia)

If your cat suddenly starts drinking more water, especially when its food bowl is full, it could be a sign of kidney disease. It’s common for cats with kidney problems to develop urinary tract infections. A UTI can cause increased thirst and urination in an attempt to flush out bacteria.

When you notice your cat drinking more than usual, take it to see a vet immediately. A simple urine test can reveal if there are any signs of infection or kidney damage. If left untreated, a UTI can spread to other organs and lead to sepsis (blood poisoning). This can be fatal within 24 hours.

One example of polydipsia is diabetes mellitus, which causes polyuria (abnormally large amounts of urine) because glucose cannot enter cells without insulin. Excess glucose stays in the bloodstream where it provokes an osmotic diuresis leading to excessive urination as well as polydipsia.


6) Increased Urination (polyuria)

If your cat is suddenly urinating more frequently than usual, it could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney disease. Before making an appointment with your veterinarian, consider how much water your cat is consuming in addition to how often they go outside.

If you’ve been keeping them inside and they haven’t changed their habits since they were a kitten, it may be time to schedule an appointment. Also keep in mind that some medications for humans can cause polyuria, so talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about medication.


7) Increased thirst and urination with very little physical activity (oliguria)

Cats with kidney disease will drink more than usual and may urinate frequently even if they aren’t running around. They may also drink large amounts of water at once and then return a short time later to empty their bladder again.

It’s important to keep an eye on your cat’s water intake since kidney disease is often accompanied by dehydration, which can be fatal. If you notice that your cat is drinking or urinating in unusual patterns, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.


8) Pain when urinating. This may come and go

If your cat seems to be suffering while urinating, there’s a good chance that he has kidney disease. The pain is thought to be caused by increased pressure within his kidneys; when your kitty urinates, his kidneys are actually filtering out waste products from his blood.

Normally, these waste products are reabsorbed back into your cat’s bloodstream; but if he has kidney disease, these wastes aren’t being processed properly and may cause him pain as they pass through his kidneys.

Keep an eye on your cat’s litter box: If you notice that he spends a lot of time in his litter box or seems to have difficulty getting comfortable in it, call your vet immediately. He could have crystals in his urine, which can lead to serious infections or even permanent damage to his kidneys.

His appetite changes dramatically: If you notice that your kitty isn’t eating like normal—or at all—there could be something wrong with her kidneys.


9) Poor coat condition. The cat’s fur looks dull and dry, instead of its normal glossy appearance.

The cat may also scratch and bite at its coat excessively. Dark, tarry-looking stools. Blood in the urine. The cat has pale, rusty-colored urine or blood in its urine.: If you notice these symptoms, take your cat to a veterinarian right away; kidney disease is an emergency.

Muscle twitches and cramps. The cat may twitch, jerk or convulse in response to sudden movements (e.g., while grooming).: These are signs of hyperthyroidism—another possible sign of kidney disease—so if you see them, talk with your vet about treatment options for both conditions.

Increased thirst and urination. Your cat drinks more water than usual and/or urinates more frequently than normal.: As kidneys become less efficient at filtering waste from the blood, they produce more waste products that need to be excreted through urine.


10) Fever, especially when combined with other symptoms.

A fever in cats is usually accompanied by lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and other flu-like symptoms. It could also be an indication of urinary tract infection or inflammatory bowel disease. If your cat has a persistent fever and you can’t determine what caused it, ask your vet to run tests to see if your cat has a kidney infection or inflammation.

You should also have your cat tested for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which are both common causes of cancer in cats. FeLV is highly contagious among cats, so even indoor-only pets are at risk of contracting it from infected animals outside their home.

FIV doesn’t spread as easily as FeLV but can still be transmitted through bites or deep scratches from infected animals.

Is your cat hiding? Here is a guide on how to determine if your cat is sick.

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