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Feline Chronic Renal Failure

What is Feline Chronic Renal Failure ?

Renal insufficiency in cats is a progressive condition however this progression is often slow and insidious. There may be no outward signs of illness until the disease has progressed quite a bit. The condition is mainly seen in cats over 8-9 years of age as areas of the kidney become damaged and lose function. This loss of function leads to waste products, normally excreted in urine, building up in the blood. The kidneys also play a vital role in hydration and electrolyte management and these to will go awry as the problem progresses.

What causes Chronic Renal Failure

There is no one cause of renal failure in cats. There are many factors (infection, inflammation, immune system responses, toxins, bladder problems, cancer) that can all contribute to the onset of renal insufficiency. Once it begins, it can almost be self-perpetuating. 

What are the signs ?

As explained before, clinical signs may not appear until the disease becomes more advanced. These signs may include:
  • increased water consumption
  • increased urination
  • reduced appetite
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • bad breath

How can it be diagnosed early ?

Your Vet can perform a physical exam and take blood and urine samples for testing. Early changes in kidney function (Urea & creatinine levels) can be detected by these tests and appropriate management can begin early if necessary


While there is no cure for renal failure, there are many things we can do to slow the progression of the disease and improve longevity and quality of life:

Diet: there are many commercial diets designed for cats with renal problems. These generally have reduced levels of phosphorus, increased palatability and modified protein levels. There may also be other ingredients to stabilise cells, improve renal blood vessels and fatty acids. Examples are: Hills k/d, Walthams Renal Diet

Medications: aim to reduce high blood pressure to reduce protein loos in the urine which makes it easier for the kidneys to function. There may also be other medications to increase appetite, treat anaemia, treat mouth or stomach ulcers and control any vomiting. Your Vet can describe these further

** If you suspect your cat may have renal insufficiency seek Veterinary attention first so a proper diagnosis and management plan can be done.