Chronic Renal Failure in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Chronic kidney failure is a common disease, especially in middle-aged and older cats, and can cause symptoms in the form of, for example, nausea, decreased appetite and increased thirst.


Symptoms of chronic kidney damage occur when the kidney’s capacity to filter urine and cleanse the blood of residues is greatly reduced. There has then been an incurable damage to the kidneys where kidney tissue has been replaced by scar tissue, and the function of the kidneys has been limited. Causes of chronic kidney failure can be a previous acute damage to the kidneys, some hereditary specific kidney damage, tumors in the kidneys and certain infections. Unfortunately, one does not always arrive at the cause.


Chronic kidney failure is a creeping disease that gradually makes the cat sicker. The cat becomes weak and tired, eats less and drinks more than normal. The rising levels of residues (urea, etc.) in the blood make the cat feel unwell and may have vomiting and diarrhea. Urine can also cause stomach ulcers and ulcers in the oral mucosa, which also contributes to reduced appetite. Weight loss will be followed by fatigue and constant tiredness. The cat may also develop anemia due to long-term kidney failure.

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 usually taken to check if there is an infection and if proteins are found in the urine, which indicates “leakage” from the kidneys. The density of the urine is also measured, to examine how well the kidneys can concentrate the urine. An ultrasound of the kidneys can provide a lot of information. In chronically failing kidneys, one often sees a shrunken, denser and smaller kidney with an irregular shape.

Intravenous fluid therapy may be required in cases where the cat is dehydrated due to the inability of the kidney to concentrate the urine. Blood pressure is measured because too much pressure in the kidney can lead to major injuries. The cat is often treated with blood pressure lowering medications to lower the pressure in the kidney.

A kidney diet food is usually recommended as this diet is optimally formulated to protect the kidneys. It contains a lower proportion, but well-balanced, proteins and reduced amount of phosphorus.

In cases where the phosphate content has risen in the blood as a result of kidney failure, treatment with phosphate binders in the diet can be of value.

A chronic kidney damage cannot be cured, but with medication and diet you can make the kidneys work better and postpone the process.

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