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What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure can either develop slowly due to a chronic disease or occur suddenly due to poisoning or trauma. Both types must be addressed immediately in order to save the cat's life.

The kidneys are responsible for several necessary life functions, which include maintaining proper blood pressure levels, filtering toxins and wastes from the bloodstream, excreting the wastes through urine, contributing to the production of red blood cells, and producing a variety of essential enzymes and hormones. Approximately 30 percent of cats will develop kidney disease during their lifetime; many of these cases will progress to kidney failure. When the kidneys fail to perform properly, the cat's life is at risk.

Kidney Failure Average Cost

From 429 quotes ranging from $200 - $35,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Cats

Depending on the type of kidney failure the cat is experiencing, symptoms can progress slowly or begin suddenly. These symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst due to the buildup of toxins and waste in the bloodstream (polydipsia)
  • Increased urinary output
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath that smells like ammonia
  • Oral ulcers on the tongue and gums
  • Dry coat
  • Constipation
  • Brown-colored tongue
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Indifference

Types

There are two different types of kidney failure:

  • Acute, which develops within days or weeks
  • Chronic, which develops slowly over time due to chronic kidney disease
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Causes of Kidney Failure in Cats

There are several of causes of kidney failure in cats, which vary depending on the type the cat is experiencing. These causes include:

Acute

  • Poisons, such as antifreeze, pesticides or cleaning fluids
  • Heart failure with low blood pressure that prevents enough blood from flowing to the kidneys
  • Trauma from an accident
  • Shock from dehydration or rapid blood loss
  • Kidney infection
  • Urinary tract obstruction

Chronic

  • Congenital and hereditary abnormalities
  • Fungal infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Repeated urinary infections that wear the kidneys down over time
  • Kidney cancer
  • Medications, such as acetaminophen
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Advanced dental disease
  • Thyroid problems
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Diagnosis of Kidney Failure in Cats

The veterinarian will need to know all of the symptoms the cat is experiencing and when the symptoms first began. If a recent poisoning or trauma occurred, the veterinarian will need to be given details about these incidents. The veterinarian will physically examine the cat, listening to its heart and lungs and taking its blood pressure.

A urinalysis and a biochemical profile will be taken. The urinalysis will look for protein in the urine that has leaked through damaged kidneys and will measure the urine specific gravity (USG). Because kidney failure results in the kidneys no longer filtering the wastes from the urine, a cat who has kidney failure will have urine with a gravity that is much like distilled water. The biochemical profile will look for waste products in the blood that the kidneys should have filtered out; high numbers of these products are indicative of kidney failure.

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Treatment of Kidney Failure in Cats

Acute Kidney Failure Treatment

Cats who have acute kidney failure due to trauma or poisoning will often recover once the primary issue that caused the kidney failure is addressed. This may include surgery, medications, fluid therapy or blood transfusions. If the kidneys don't respond after the primary issue is treated, other courses of treatment will need to occur in order to address the kidney failure.

Dialysis

Hemodialysis or dialysis is a procedure in which a machine acts like the kidneys, filtering out the wastes and toxins that build up in the bloodstream. Dialysis can be used to treat cats with chronic kidney disease or to remove a poison from a cat with acute kidney disease. Unfortunately, dialysis is only available at certain veterinary hospitals in the United States and can be extremely costly. 

Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplants in cats require an experienced team of veterinary surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nursing staff. As such, they are only performed in a few veterinary hospitals in the United States. During the kidney transplant, a healthy kidney from a deceased donor cat will be transplanted into the cat with kidney failure. Medications will need to be administered in order to ensure the cat's body doesn't reject the donor kidney.

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Recovery of Kidney Failure in Cats

Cats who recovered from acute kidney failure will need to follow up with the veterinarian to ensure that the kidneys are still functioning properly with repeated testing. There is no cure for chronic kidney failure. Cats who are unable to have dialysis or a transplant have a poor prognosis. Many owners opt to have their cat euthanized as a result. Cats who received a transplant will need to follow up continually with the veterinarian to ensure that the transplanted kidney is still functioning properly. Cats who are receiving dialysis will need to continue with dialysis for the rest of their life or until kidney transplantation is possible.

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Kidney Failure Average Cost

From 429 quotes ranging from $200 - $35,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Kidney Failure Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Barney

dog-breed-icon

Bengal

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating
Dehydrated
Stertor

My Bengal Barney is in stage 4 kidney disease he has always had very high blood due to having 1 kidney. My vet thinks I should euthanise him as she feels he is dying but to me I feel if we could get him hydrated then he may eat again! His creatine was over 700 in June. Awaiting the latest results. He is sitting by the sink constantly needing a drink he can still walk, and jump around (up onto the ironing board and down). Do you think my vet is right or should we try if fluids? He has lost weight and has a low temperature as he has no cat on him.

Aug. 29, 2018

Barney's Owner

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Angel

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tabby

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17 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Throwing Up About 7 Times A Day
Hasn'T Ate In 4 Days
Hasn'T Had Water In 4 Days

He has had bloodwork done and now on home infusion to keep organs going. It's now been 4 days without food and water. He seems miserable. Is there truly a chance for him to recover. I'm very scared and sad.

Aug. 25, 2018

Angel's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Angel and reviewing his medical file I cannot give you any indication of prognosis; however kidney failure is generally irreversible but we can slow the progression and manage the diet etc… to take stress of the kidneys. It is important to determine the cause and the severity so that appropriate action is taken; fluid therapy and dietary management are the cornerstones of management. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 26, 2018

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Chloe

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short hair

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15 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None

I have a cat that was diagnosed with IBD 5 months ago. She is 15 years old and has been on prednisolone pretty much 90% of time in past 5 months. She was having dark tarry stool so we had her go back to vet to get checked out for what we thought upper gi bleed due to ibd. we had blood work done and urinalysis. Her bloodwork numbers were fine except her BUN was elevate to 75. We are now giving fluids three times a day, but she acts perfectly normal before fluids like nothing is wrong, still plays, social and is the same Kindof eater as before. I understand a cats kidneys begin to shut down but is giving fluids necessary this early before creatinine and phosphate rise.

Aug. 16, 2018

Chloe's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

An increased BUN value and normal creatinine level may be the result of early prerenal azotemia; but it may also be due to gastrointestinal bleeding or high protein diets. Without examining Chloe I cannot say for certain, but if you’re concerned about the treatment given (I cannot comment legally without examining Chloe myself) you should visit another Veterinarian for a second opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 17, 2018

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Betty

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DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Trouble Breathing
Low Body Temperature
Weak Hind Legs
Low Blood Pressue,

My 10 year old cat was attacked by two dogs yesterday. I heard barking outside and found two dogs on top of her. I ran downstairs and they ran off, but she was not in good shape. She tried to run into the house by her lower legs were not functioning and she flopped down. She was breathing very heavily with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. I took her to a local animal hospital and they tried to stabilize her with fluid, oxygen, warmth and methods to raise her blood pressure which was low, pain meds. They ran x-rays to find out if she had a broken leg, they tried to determine if there was internal bleeding, etc. That all came back negative from what they could tell. She spent the night there but nothing really changed. No improvement on her hind legs - she would respond if they were touched but she could not walk on them. Also continue problems with keeping blood pressure and breathing normal. They thought it could require a neurologist and suggested I wait one more day and if she was not better they could refer me to an ER that had Neurologists on site. Rather than wait a day I moved her to such an Animal ER this afternoon (23 hours after the attack). They did some of the same stabilization techniques there but also checked the bruises on her chest to see if any were bites more than skin deep, but did not see anything. They said she was two weak for a full neurological exam but a neurologist did examin her and thought the hind leg problems could be a result of pain and swelling that might resolve over time. There were at least two xrays taken at the first hospital as well as other tests and apparently she was showing some normal age-related issues - such as a possible heart murmur. Important to note that she showed no symptoms of any issues and was a normal acting cat until this happened. Anyway the Vet at this second hospital was almost optimistic and seemed to think that after one or two days she might get better. Sadly a few hours later he called to say they ran kidney tests and the numbers of two important measurements were much higher than they were yesterday (first hospital). He feared that she might have experienced kidney damage as a result of the dog attack and if that is the case it does not look good for her. He said either that or the first hospital did not give her enough fluids. He said it was tricky because with the heart murmur you had to be careful about too many fluids that could bring on heart failure. I guess there is no choice but to go ahead with the fluids to see if they can save her for now, but he did say he was worried about her and he sounded grimmer than he did when we met. It appears that the dogs may have nipped at her and probably applied pressure to her body and I am certain the terrified her. What next? What to try? I don't want to give up on her as long as there is hope. How much hope is there? She did not deserve this!

Aug. 11, 2018

Betty's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Betty certainly didn’t deserve this. At the moment there is little else to try apart from trying to keep her stable, we don’t want to over medicate or stress her body more than it has been already. Fluids and other supportive care should be given as required but I’m not optimistic about the prognosis based on what I’ve read in your question; however the Specialists at the emergency clinic will be able to advise you better than me. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

Thanks for the reply, this is a nice service which is appreciated.

Aug. 11, 2018

Betty's Owner

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dee dee

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

22 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic Not Drinking X 2 Days

My cat is 22 yrs. old and is an indoor cat. She was diagnosed with kidney failure almost 2 yrs. ago. It is becoming more evident that she is in the advanced stage of kidney failure. The last couple of months she's been going downhill pretty fast. She has decreased water in take (a week ago she went from 16 oz a day to almost nothing now), she's vomiting some white foam and sometimes green bile for the last 3 days , maybe twice a day, now some diarhea. She stays confined to my bedroom for the last year. She acts like she has a cold by sneezing, which is getting worse. She has lost interest in everything. She stays in the bed or on her chair and her food and water is on the bed, cat box is 5 feet away from the bed, but still responds to affection and purrs alot. I know the end is near and I don't want her to suffer or be in pain. Going to the vets has always been very tramatic for her and I always hoped she would pass in her sleep. She's had a wonderful and pampered life for 22 years. I don't want her to suffer. What are your thoughts?

July 29, 2018

dee dee's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

I think that kidney failure is a disease that causes suffering in the end, and most of the diseases that affect our older cats don't take them peacefully while they are sleeping. To prevent her from suffering, you may have to make a decision for her, as difficult as it is, so that she can rest peacefully.

July 29, 2018

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Tito

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dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating, Sleeping All The Time,

My cat,Tito, is almost 2 years old and diagnosed with acute renal failure. I took him to the vet a week ago and his creatinine was over the charts. They had out him on an IV for a few days and his levels did go down to a 2.8. They let me take him home with just kidney care diet food and I will go back in a month to check the levels again. But ever since I got home he is not eating anything and continues to hide under my bed or in the bath tub. It's starting to scare me that hes not going to make it. Any suggestions on getting him to eat ? Or any idea what to do in this situation? I have given him all types of canned cat food and even tried boiled chicken.

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Meow mi

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

21 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Frequent Urination

My cat was diagnosed with kidney disease. His SDMA read 15pg/dl, CREA 3.4mg/dl and BUN 63mg/dl. I’m not sure if is early stage. Possible to change his diet to home cook diet and what is the recommendation to prolong

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Todd

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up
Drinking So Much That He Throws Up
Drinking So Much That He Vomits

Hi My cat Todd have been losing weight over the last year. And has suddenly begun throwing up. He has always been drinking a lot, but now he has begun drinking so much that he vomits. But otherwise no changes in his behavior. I took him in for blood work, but although he drinks a lot he was so dehydrated that it was hard to get any blood. The blood they managed to get showed Creatinine: 231 Ymol/L Urea: 13.1 mmol/L BUN 14 CA. 3.48 mmol/L He got put on renal diet, but the doctors didn’t really understand why his numbers looked like this. As he is only 2 years old and there is no history of PKD in his family. A month later we took him in for another bloodwork and this time it showed that his urea had decreased to normal Urea. 12 mmol/L And his BUN level had decreased to 11 But his creatinine had increased Creatinine. 259 ymol/L And his calcium level was the same Ca. 3.48 mmol/L This time he had put on a bit of weight and his blood ran smoothly. But I am so confused, because none of the doctors can say exactly what is wrong with him. And I’ve tried researching on my own, but everything I find contradicts one another. Can you please help me find an answer. Thank you

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Nano

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

16 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Constipation
Megacolon

I took my cat to the vet because he was listless/ loss of appetite/ bile/ nausea/ wobbly back legs/consitpated. I did not do any tests but they recommend kidney food from Hills and nasea pills for 4 days .... the pills did nothing for him and he hated the food I was thinking it was the end for him... but I was determined I research a lot... and I was annoyed that they did nothing for his constipation because it was rock hard... so I got laxatone and gave that after 3 days he did a good poo then it went downhill and I thought it’s not good to give that plus the ingredients seemed not too good.. but I gave it everyday... I took him off dry and did only WET food and finally found a food he loves that had no “phosphorus” which I heard is bad for kidneys... I add lots of water to his food almost soupy and he eats it... I bought urine strips and did the 10 parameters test at home ... it was positive for leukocytes (aka white blood cells) and specific gravity was off BUT I saw a YouTube channel saying it’s not accurate on these tests ... everything else came up normal with a PH maybe being 6.5 The new food had fish oil and had helped him immensely with his nausea ! His appetite is good but not perfect like he once was .. I stopped the LAXATONE and tried bran and canned pumpkin but still not helping and from doing it every 24 hrs it’s now 48 hrs and hard ( something it’s small like rabbit dropping or bigger or the size is weird ) I really would like this to be helped because he has his ups and downs with bile or vomit but the constipation scares me imnow trying Miralax... but I want to know other things I can do ... please help

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Hera

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Thirsty
Urinates A Lot

She gave birth a week ago. Then suddenly she stopped eating or eats a little but drinks so much. What should I do? She's also lethargic and stays with her kittens so many times

Kidney Failure Average Cost

From 429 quotes ranging from $200 - $35,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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