Kidney Failure: A Common Cause of Death in Cats

Cats as young as 3 years old have been diagnosed with kidney failure, but the condition is more common in older cats.

Kidney failure is prevalent in cats who are 10 and older. By: Radarsmum67

Many people who adopt cats are never made aware that the primary cause of feline death is renal (kidney) failure.

Of course, no one wants to consider death when they are bringing a new family member home. But even cats as young as 3 have been diagnosed with kidney failure, although the condition is more common in older cats.

Symptoms of Kidney Problems

If a cat is a member of your family, take the time to educate yourself about feline kidney problems.

The more you know, the better your chances of saving your cat if problems arise. Learn about the symptoms. If your cat ever exhibits any of them, you’ll know to get veterinary help immediately.

  1. Drinking much more water than usual. This is the first symptom most people notice, and it can be mistaken for thinking the cat is too warm or a little stressed because of a move or the inclusion of another pet in the family. If your cat begins to drink excessively, it is a problematic sign. Contact your trusted vet for an appointment.
  2. Excessive urination. This is the second most commonly noticed symptom. You’ll notice this when you have to clean the litter box more frequently. With an increased intake of fluids, the cat will urinate often. Usually, by the time this symptom is noticed, 75% of the kidneys is not functioning.
  3. Lack of appetite is another possible symptom of your cat experiencing kidney failure.

People who notice these symptoms should get their cat to the veterinarian’s office right away.

Watch this news story of one clinic that used stem cell therapy to help treat a cat with kidney failure:

Diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Failure

Your vet will draw blood and collect urine from the cat and then evaluate the results. The cat will probably need to spend the night at the vet’s office for observation.

It’s devastating for the pet’s family to hear the veterinarian diagnose the cat chronic renal failure, a progressive and incurable disease. Although some cats live for months or even years without any additional problems, others are frequently taken quickly by this condition.


Your vet will probably suggest that you maintain a minimal-protein and low-phosphorous diet with additional potassium for your cat. These changes may help limit further deterioration to your cat’s kidneys.

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Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to prevent kidney failure in cats.

Opinions differ concerning causes. Some veterinarians suggest a link between feline distemper vaccines and inflammation of the kidneys, resulting in renal failure. Many vets (including my own) say they believe that annual feline distemper vaccinations for cats are unnecessary.

According to Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM, weight problems (obesity) can also increase the risk of kidney disease.

Maintain Your Cat’s Kidney Health

One way to help keep kidneys healthy is to introduce wet food into your cat’s meals.

A diet that consists solely of dry cat food and water can be problematic, according to Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, who says a cat on a dry food diet “consumes approximately half the amount of water compared with a cat eating canned foods. This is a crucial point when one considers how common kidney and bladder problems are in the cat.”

Adding wet food and cat milk (found in most supermarkets) will give your pet the fluids necessary to maintain a healthy body.

Roseann Lahey

View posts by Roseann Lahey
Roseann Lahey has been researching and writing about pet care and behaviors for many years.

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