Acute Renal Failure in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Acute renal failure in cats occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop functioning, for example as a result of poisoning.


There are many substances that are toxic to the cat’s kidneys and can cause acute kidney failure. This includes lily plants, coolant (ethylene glycol) and various drugs. If you suspect that the cat has come into contact with any toxic substance, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Acute kidney damage can also occur with infections in the kidneys, tumors in the kidneys and in inflammatory conditions.


Symptoms of acute kidney damage can come on suddenly. The cat becomes weak and tired, eats worse and gets acute abdominal pain. Vomiting and diarrhea are common and in severe cases the cat may develop neurological symptoms. At the beginning of the kidney damage, the cat may drink more and urinate more than normal so that at a later stage it does not produce any urine at all.

Diagnosis and treatment

The veterinarian takes a blood sample to determine kidney damage and to measure how severe the injury is. You then measure how well the kidneys filter out urinary substances etc. from the blood, because the level of these rises in the blood in the event of a kidney injury. Urine samples are taken to check if there is any infection and if crystals or other abnormalities are found. An ultrasound of the kidneys can provide a lot of information, for example, certain poisonings can cause sharp changes in the kidneys that can be detected with ultrasound.

Intravenous fluid therapy is a central part of the treatment of acute kidney injury. Urine production and kidney values ​​are measured continuously to see that the kidneys regain their capacity to filter the blood.

It is important that a cat with acute kidney failure quickly comes under care for the prognosis to be as good as possible. After an acute kidney injury, there is a risk that the cat will develop a chronic kidney injury.

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