Common cat diseases

How to Tell if a Cat Has Kidney Failure

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Tell if a Cat Has Kidney Failure

Kidney failure, also known as renal failure is the inability of the kidneys to do their job properly. It can occur in almost all animals, including cats, and according to its duration, can be acute or chronic. This disease can be caused by problems in various parts of the urinary system, either in the kidneys or in the areas before (prerenal kidney failure) or after (postrenal kidney failure).

The sooner you have a diagnosis the more effective treatment is, therefore, at we explain how to tell if a cat has kidney failure.

You may also be interested in: How to Tell if my Cat Has Anemia

Steps to follow:


Risk factors of Kidney failure are more common in outdoor cats.

There are certain breeds like the Abyssinian, Siamese, Burmese, Persian, Russian Blue and the Maine Coon that have a greater predisposition to it.

Also many toxins like heavy metals or ethylene glycol used as antifreeze in cars can cause it, as do some medications such as NSAIDs, aminoglycosides and certain drugs used in cancer treatment.

Moreover, as discussed below, there are several diseases that can lead to renal insufficiency in cats. Logically, the causes of these diseases can increase the risk of kidney failure.


Symptoms of renal insufficiency in cats vary greatly depending on the stage of the disease and the cause and include changes in the quantity, frequency or appearance of urine.

Therefore, if you observe any changes in the appearance of your cat's urine, especially if it is red, as it may contain blood, or in the amount or frequency of urination, so pay attention.

There are other symptoms in most cases of kidney failure: anorexia or decreased appetite, vomiting, and dehydration.

Sometimes pallor, halitosis and unkempt fur.

How to Tell if a Cat Has Kidney Failure - Step 2

Urinary infections, especially chronic ones may end up damaging the kidneys' job, so it is very important to detect them early and provide proper treatment.


Stones in any part of the urinary system can also cause kidney failure. Besides predisposing them to infection, they can cause complete or partial obstructions that cause your cat's kidneys to be unable to release urine, which could end up damaging them.


The kidneys need to receive a certain amount of blood per unit of time, which they then convert into urine. Changes in blood pressure change this amount and can trigger kidney failure in your cat.

Factors that reduce this pressure, like certain anaesthetic medications and sedatives or blood loss, may cause kidney failure.


We recommend taking your cat to the vet at least twice a year for a check-up and whenever you notice any of the above symptoms.

A urine analysis can assess the density of the urine (which reflects the ability of kidney function) and detect infections, and ultrasounds can assess the kidneys and urinary bladder.

A blood test is also necessary to determine kidney function using the values of urea and creatinine as indicators, and also shows the status of the cat's health and other associated problems.

OneHowto also offers you the chance to learn about the most common diseases in cats.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Tell if a Cat Has Kidney Failure, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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How to Tell if a Cat Has Kidney Failure