Jump to section

What is Polycystic Kidney Disease?

PKD in cats usually begins to appear through kidney-related clinical signs at around seven years of age, but can affect the cat in earlier stages of life. Common symptoms a cat owner may note at home are those associated with kidney failure including lethargy, polydipsia, polyuria, vomiting, depression and weight loss. Upon veterinary diagnostic exams, the kidneys will appear large in size and the biochemistry profile (a blood test used to detect hormones released by the body’s organs) will indicate abnormal kidney function. Most felines that are diagnosed with (PKD) are in advanced stages of kidney disease, which may likely be fatal. However, there is a (PKD) screening test available for breeders with felines at risk for the disease that will aid in the prevention of the gene abnormality from being passed to future generations. 

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in cats is a form of kidney disease, characterized by numerous fluid-filled cysts within the two vital organs. The cysts are present at birth, progressively growing in size and compromising the healthy kidney tissues, which leads to kidney failure. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in cats is an inherited disease found in Exotic Shorthaired cats and Persians. The actual name your veterinarian may give this hereditary kidney abnormality is autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, abbreviated AD-PKD, as it is a single pair of genes, or “autosomal dominant” genes, that will determine whether or not a kitten will possess PKD. This means that if only one of the parents, either the father or the mother, are affected by PKD, the affected gene will remain dominant and pass the kidney disease onto about half of the offspring.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Cats

The symptoms of polycystic kidney disease in cats are related to general kidney failure and disease. The progressive growth of cysts within these vital organs will slow down their function of filtration, which may lead to complications in the bladder and abdominal pain. Additional symptoms related to PKD in cats can include: 

  • Lethargy 
  • Polydipsia (excessive thirst) 
  • Polyuria (excessive elimination of urine) 
  • Vomiting 
  • Depression 
  • Weight loss 
  • Anorexia 
  • Poor hair coat 
  • Listlessness 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Anemia 
  • Weakness 
  • Blindness 
  • Seizures 
  • Ataxia 
  • Presence of blood in vomit or diarrhea 
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Cats

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, abbreviated AD-PKD, is caused by a single pair of genes, or “autosomal dominant” genes, that will determine whether or not a kitten will possess PKD. This means that if only one of the parents, either the father or the mother, are affected by PKD, the affected gene will remain dominant and pass the kidney disease onto about half of the offspring. If a cat is found with one PKD gene, then that feline is said to be heterozygous, whereas a feline that possesses two PKD genes is referred to as homozygous. If two cats of heterozygous nature mate, the litter has a less likely chance of infecting all kittens; roughly 75 percent are estimated. If two cats of homozygous mate together, however, will result in an infection of the entire litter of kittens. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Cats

Clinical signs often suggest complications with a cat’s kidneys, so the veterinarian will likely run diagnostic exams to adhere to this observation. A biochemistry profile and complete blood count will likely be conducted to take note of the functionality of the kidneys. As the kidneys filter toxins from the blood to be passed in the urine, a urinalysis (examination of the urine), may also prove to be effective in diagnosing a kidney problem. Determining whether a feline has PKD requires a differential diagnosis. The veterinarian will radiograph the location of the kidneys, which often reveals enlarged kidney organs. The diagnosis will proceed to an ultrasonic test, revealing the presence of cysts. The veterinarian will take your cat’s breed, age and genetic history into consideration before requesting a gene test. A genetic test is available for cat suspected of having PKD and only requires a small blood sample, or mouth swab.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Cats

Polycystic kidney disease has no known cure and treatment is only prescribed as supportive life care for the feline. Potassium supplements or IV fluids are commonly given to felines suffering from PKD, as failure of the kidneys often lowers potassium levels in the blood. The blood cells themselves can also be affected, resulting in anemia that may require iron supplementation, as the red blood cells carry iron to circulate throughout the body.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Cats

As PKD progressively worsens as the cat ages and there is no known treatment, the prognosis for cats affected by this disease is rather poor. To improve the quality of a cat’s life, the veterinarian may recommend a diet change, low in sodium, and supplement absent minerals or vitamins. Routine testing to evaluate the cat’s blood electrolytes are to be expected to balance the prescribe treatments over time.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Polycystic Kidney Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Charlie

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Thin
Polydipsia
Lack Of Appetite
Poor Coat
Polyuric

I was recently left a very anxious, but sweet cat. She was apparently spoiled by her previous owners, but they clearly did not care for her, as she had never been to the vet for checkups. After having only been with her for three months (in this time upgrading her food and brushing her more), I took her in for a general exam only to find out that she has PKD (huge right kidney), level IV tooth decay, and a 4/6 heart murmur. I've bonded with her and am absolutely heartbroken. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, but she expresses all the symptoms associated with these ailments. She is ten years old, and was not recommended to go under anesthesia due to the murmur. I am lost - how can I help her?

July 27, 2018

Charlie's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

You should ensure that Charlie is on a renal diet, has her teeth brushed regularly and ensure that she is kept hydrated; treatment would be supportive and symptomatic and your Veterinarian would be able to guide you better based on the severity of the symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 27, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Gizmo

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Decreased Appetite.
Bun 65
Slightly Low Wbc

My 10 year old furbaby showed decreased appetite and constipation. A blood test performed showed BUN 65 and creatine 4.3. Her wbc was a little low. An ultrasound showed a fluid sac attached to her kidney. She is currently receiving IV for 48 hours. She also showed signs of a viral infection.She has now been switched to the renal diet. Can you tell me whats her prognosis and what else can be done to improve it?

July 15, 2018

Gizmo's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Gizmo and her response to therapy, I can't comment on her prognosis, unfortunately, as each body responds uniquely to disease and treatment. IV fluid therapy and medications are the cornerstone of treatment for any kidney disease, and how she responds will tell a lot about how she will do. Some cats are able to recover from acute kidney failure, and survive quite well with renal diets and subcutaneous fluids, which you can learn to give at home. Some do not, sadly. When your veterinarian rechecks her lab work, you will have a better idea as to how she is responding. I hope that she does well.

July 15, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Zeze

dog-breed-icon

Only God knows

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Constipation

What other exams should I go for when cat was diagnosed with policistic kidneys, she is only 4 and the other health issue she has is only a slight ventricular hypertrophy that the cardio did not feel the need to medicate. Many thanks

July 5, 2018

Zeze's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Recommended tests might be regular labwork to assess her BUN and creatinine, and an ultrasound to assess the structure of her kidneys. Your veterinarian may want to monitor other parameters, as they can examine her and know her history. I hope that all goes well for Zeze.

July 6, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

panbe

dog-breed-icon

Persian Himalayan

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Depressed
Sitting At His Water Bowl

My cat is almost 4 years old and has been diagnosed having a 21mm cyst in one kidney and 3mm cyst in another kidney. He had IV for 3 days and its been 5 days that he started eating RENAL food but he still vomits. The doctor said his blood test is normal we gave blood test twice in one week. I dont know what else can be done.

July 4, 2018

panbe's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Dietary management is important in cases where a loss of kidney function occurs, the sudden change in food over to the renal diet may be a cause for vomiting but without examining Panbe I cannot say for certain. You should ensure that small regular portions of food are given and that Panbe remains well hydrated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 4, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Licorice

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Incontinence
Cloudy Eyes
Very Enlarged Kidney

My cat was diagnosed with PKD 2 yrs ago. recently lethargic, cloudy eyes and now leaves small urine behind when sitting or standing... has he reached last stage? Life expectancy would be...?

June 11, 2018

Licorice's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Licorice, what treatments he is getting, and what his health status it, I don't have any way to determine whether he is at a point where treatment won't help him, or how long he would be expected to live. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as he doesn't sound comfortable, and they can answer those questions for you once they have examined him and get a better idea as to how he is doing.

June 11, 2018

His creatine levels are 790 (equiv to approx 6.5mg/L??). Vet has told us a month at best.

June 14, 2018

Licorice's Owner


I should also mention he has developed halitosis as well. His coat is not in great shape either.

June 11, 2018

Licorice's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

M

dog-breed-icon

Burmilla

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine, Excessive Licking

We got our cat from a Breeder, never had any issues until a few weeks ago she started passing blood in her urine. Got her tested and put on antibiotics which helped for a week and then again we noticed the same. Did blood tests, urine tests and all was fine. Finally did an ultrasound and she was diagnosed with PKD. Its just heart breaking as she is so young. We hope for the best.

dog-name-icon

Kavir

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Muscle Wasting
Lethargy, Vomiting, Cloudy Eyes,

I just had my baby euthanized yesterday. The vet came to my house and she euthanized him on the lawn in the bright sunshine with birds chirping. My Kavir was 11 he was a persian. My emotions are pretty raw right now, especially since the breeder said he was PKD negative. I found out otherwise last year when an ultrasound revealed the truth. I had him on semintra, and he was on acana cat food would not eat anything else. Looking back I think he was in serious condition for the past 4 years. The last 2 weeks he rallied after vet came expressed his impacted anal glands and I was giving him a laxative 4 times a day we also doubled up on semintra last few days he was vomiting, drinking lots of water, not eating, he would lay in one spot on the carpet look at me and meow, I knew then it was time to let him go. This is the second cat I have had that died this way, the first was a himalayan he was 10. I researched the disease and searched for a new kitty, it took a whole year to find him. If this horrible disease is so prevalent why is there no test that can be done to provide proof. I purchased my kitten from a well known breeder and I visited her cattery to check things out, why do canadian vets not do kidney transplants like they do in the US. I would have gladly adopted the cat donor

dog-name-icon

Bruce

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Our cat Bruce has been being sick on and off for about a month. The vet doesn’t think it’s related to his kidneys, they think it’s hair balls......I’m not so sure. He’s had a ultrasound, X-ray and anti sickness meds and he is still being sick, he seems to have spasms in his lower back (near his hind legs) he is not eating anything.....not even Tuna!!! And he just wants to sleep in our bed. He is still being sick and our vet said to just wait and see how he is. I think if we wait he’s not going to make it through the weekend

dog-name-icon

Maple

dog-breed-icon

Ragdoll

dog-age-icon

9 Weeks

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst

My female ragdoll kitten has just been diagnosed with PKD at only 9 weeks old. I started to notice her increased water intake, frequently urinating outside of the litter box even that she is trained, then chance of colour and solidity in her poo. I decided to take her to the vet after only seeing these symptoms for a couple days and that’s when she was diagnosed. Now I’m just worried about my poor babies, quality of life and life expectancy after being diagnosed with this disease so young

dog-name-icon

Poppy

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

11 Months

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anemia
Lethargy
Decreased Appetite
Pica
Increased Shedding

I have an 11month old Siamese cat named Poppy. We noticed a decrease in energy and increased shedding a couple months ago, but since more signs started to develop (pica- licking the fireplace grout, decreased appetite, etc) we took her to the vet. We realized she was anemic and had hyperproteinemia. We started her on antibiotics and iron supplement. The vet was puzzled, but five days later at a follow-up appointment, the vet diagnosed her with suspected PKD. We are heartbroken. He gave a vitamin B and steroid injection to hopefully ramp up her appetite. We know Siamese are prone to kidney stones, etc so we’ve always used bottled water and feed her quality food. Any other advice?

Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

How can we help your pet?