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What is Kidney Enlargement?

Kidney enlargement is a condition in which one or both kidneys experience inflammation, fluid retention, swelling, or an abnormal growth. These situations can cause the kidneys to grow in size. This inflammation may be caused by a variety of conditions, some of which are life-threatening. Enlargement can be a warning sign of acute or chronic kidney failure. The kidneys are necessary to filter waste and toxins from the blood stream, so any condition that impairs their function will quickly have a negative impact on other bodily functions. Certain breeds are more prone to developing kidney issues, including Siamese, Persian, Burmese, and Maine Coon. Any cat experiencing symptoms of kidney enlargement or kidney failure should be seen by a veterinary professional.

Kidney Enlargement Average Cost

From 492 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Kidney Enlargement in Cats

Kidney enlargement can cause a variety of symptoms, although it is possible for the kidneys to be enlarged and the cat to be asymptomatic. If the kidney is very enlarged, it may be possible to feel or see the swollen area. The symptoms associated with an enlarged kidney closely resemble symptoms of several serious medical conditions. Any cat experiencing symptoms like these should be seen by a medical professional immediately. 

Symptoms include:

  • Lethargy 
  • Weakness
  • Depression or apathy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Increased urination
  • Discolored urine
  • Blood in vomit, urine, or feces
  • Increased thirst
  • Pale gums or mucous membranes
  • Abdominal bloating, swelling, or mass
  • Swelling around the area of one or both kidneys
  • Bad breath
  • Abdominal pain and sensitivity to touch
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Seizures
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Causes of Kidney Enlargement in Cats

Kidney enlargement can be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions. The kidneys may become inflamed as a result of injury, infection, or serious conditions like cancers or poisoning. Enlargement may also be related to issues with other organs or portions of the renal system. Some of the common causes of kidney enlargement in cats and other companion animals include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Parasite Infestation
  • Feline leukemia virus
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urinary tract obstruction
  • Blood clots
  • Poor blood flow through the kidneys
  • Cysts
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Certain cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma
  • Toxins, including heavy metals, lilies, solvents, and antifreeze
  • Some cancer treatments
  • Certain medications
  • Envenomation
  • Heart disease
  • Immune system diseases
  • Severe dehydration
  • Kidney stones
  • Amyloidosis
  • Trauma or injury
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Diagnosis of Kidney Enlargement in Cats

Diagnosing kidney enlargement can be challenging because its symptoms are similar to other conditions and because kidney enlargement can be a symptom of a variety of medical issues. This will require your veterinarian to use multiple diagnostic techniques to verify kidney enlargement and determine its underlying cause. Be prepared to provide your veterinarian with information about your pet’s medical history, any recent medical issues or procedures, any symptoms you have observed, and how long your cat has been presenting symptoms. A full physical examination may be performed. It is often possible for veterinary professionals to diagnose enlargement during a physical examination because the kidney swelling or abdominal mass is palpable. 

Additional diagnostic methods will likely be used to determine what is causing kidney inflammation in your cat. A blood panel, including complete blood count and a close look at urea, creatinine and phosphorous levels, is common. Urinalysis with particular attention to protein and blood in the urine is another routine method for identifying the underlying cause of kidney issues. Urine and blood cultures will help determine if an infection is responsible for your cat’s condition. Additionally, urine or feces may be examined under a microscope for signs of parasitic infection, crystals etc. X-rays and other imaging techniques including an ultrasound scan will provide additional detail on the kidneys and interrelated systems. In some cases, exploratory surgery or tissue biopsy may also be used to form a diagnosis. 

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Treatment of Kidney Enlargement in Cats

If your cat is experiencing kidney or renal failure, treatment will be required immediately. Kidney failure can quickly become life-threatening. Hospitalization may be required for several days or weeks to stabilize and treat your pet. Medication may be prescribed to treat the underlying cause of kidney enlargement, but medications carry some risk as the kidneys will be responsible for processing any medication. Some common treatments associated with kidney enlargement in cats include:

Dialysis

The purpose of dialysis is to filter the blood, which is a normal function of the kidneys. When the kidneys are functioning poorly, waste material is not properly filtered. Dialysis can help with filtering. There is a moderate risk associated with dialysis, but the treatment will be recommended if the benefits outweigh the risk. This treatment is not widely available and can be incredibly costly.

Surgical Intervention

Surgery may be needed to clear an obstruction, remove a tumor, or repair certain issues. Surgery carries some risk and the patient will require careful observation during surgery and recovery. Your pet will be hospitalized post-surgery to ensure there are no complications. 

Intravenous (IV) Fluids 

Fluid therapy can assist with dehydration, removing some impurities from the system, and balancing electrolyte levels. This common treatment carries a very low risk but is generally provided on an inpatient basis. 

Feeding Therapy 

Proper nutrition and caloric intake is essential to your pet’s treatment and recovery. If your pet is experiencing weight loss or anorexia, a feeding tube or appetite stimulant may be used. 

Kidney Transplant 

A kidney transplant may be recommended if your cat’s kidney is damaged beyond repair. Only certain cats will be a good candidate for transplant. Factors including your cat’s age, overall health, and the availability of a kidney that is a good match will all be considered. As with any surgical procedure, there is a moderate risk associated with this treatment. This surgery is not available in every country.

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Recovery of Kidney Enlargement in Cats

Your pet’s recovery from kidney enlargement will depend largely on the cause of the enlargement. In some cases, your cat’s condition will be easily treated, and recovery will occur fairly quickly. This is the case for the majority of infections and many toxins. Certain conditions that can cause kidney inflammation are not so easily treated. Additionally, if significant damage has occurred to one or both kidneys, the prognosis may be poor. 

If your cat is healthy enough to return to their home, fresh water should be kept nearby at all times. Proper fluid intake is essential to maintaining proper kidney function. Your veterinarian may also recommend dietary changes. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for medications and follow-up visits as required. 

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Kidney Enlargement Average Cost

From 492 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$800

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Kidney Enlargement Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Tabby cat

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5 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

So my kitten has had on and off diarrhea for the past week. The vet said it’s probably due to intolerance to fish flavored food because he reacted badly to wet food that was fish based but is fine when it’s like chicken or beef. The vet recommended putting him on canned pumpkin everyday for a week along with dry food and water. So I’ve been doing that, but his poops are not consistent. He either has a normal cat poop with excellent color and no worms, or he has poop that looks almost snake like in a pile with still good color and no worms. I’ve only had him for almost three weeks.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Parasites are quite common in kittens, and are usually the cause of diarrhea. Food intolerances are not common in kittens, but changing food often can cause problems. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Cat

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1.5 years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Abdominal Mass

After my cat eats I can feel an abdominal mass on the right side abdomen when the cat lays down. Got an xray done but due to lockdown could only get a vet's assistant's opinion. As my cat was empty stomach he couldn't feel anything but determined that it could be the kidney I am feeling. The shaved portion is the location of mass. The mass is inside abdomen.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That does appear to be a mis-shapen kidney, but it is difficult to say without more than one view on the x-ray - we typically take 2-3 views to give perspective. It would probably be best to follow up and have a veterinarian examine him and see if the kidney feels abnormal, and possibly have an ultrasound of the kidney if needed, as well as some la work to assess kidney function. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Kidney Enlargement Average Cost

From 492 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$800

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