What are the signs of kidney disease in cats?

Recognizing the subtle signs of kidney disease in your feline friend can be crucial for their overall health and well-being. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be aware of the common symptoms that may indicate a potential problem with your cat’s kidneys. From increased thirst and frequent urination to weight loss and bad breath, knowing what to look for can help you catch kidney disease in its early stages and seek prompt veterinary care to improve your cat’s prognosis and quality of life. In this blog post, we’ll cover the key signs of kidney disease in cats so that you can better protect your furry companion.

Key Takeaways:

  • Increased thirst and urination: Watch for changes in your cat’s drinking and bathroom habits, as excessive thirst and frequent urination can be early signs of kidney disease.
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite: Kidney disease can cause a decrease in appetite and weight loss, so keep an eye out for any changes in your cat’s eating habits and body condition.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: If your cat is experiencing persistent vomiting and diarrhea, it may be a sign of kidney disease and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
  • Lethargy and weakness: Kidney disease can cause your cat to have less energy and appear weak, so monitor for any changes in your cat’s activity level and overall demeanor.
  • Bad breath and oral ulcers: Kidney disease can lead to mouth ulcers and bad breath, so pay attention to any oral health changes in your cat.

Early Detection and Common Signs

Obviously, early detection of kidney disease in your cat is crucial for managing the condition and improving your pet’s quality of life. There are several signs that may indicate kidney disease in cats, and being aware of these can help you catch the problem early.

Changes in Water Consumption

If you notice a significant increase or decrease in your cat’s water intake, it could be a sign of kidney disease. Increased thirst and frequent drinking may indicate that your cat’s kidneys are not functioning properly and are unable to concentrate the urine. On the other hand, if your cat is drinking less water than usual, it could be a sign of dehydration, which is often associated with kidney disease.

Alterations in Urination Patterns

Changes in your cat’s urination habits can also be a red flag for kidney disease. If you notice that your cat is urinating more frequently, producing larger volumes of urine, or having accidents outside the litter box, it may be a sign of kidney issues. On the other hand, some cats with kidney disease may also experience difficulty urinating, leading to straining in the litter box or producing very small amounts of urine.

Physical and Behavioral Changes

Some of the most common signs of kidney disease in cats can be observed through physical and behavioral changes. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. For more information on the symptoms of kidney failure in cats, you can also refer to Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Cats – Huntersville.

Weight Loss and Appetite Fluctuations

One common sign of kidney disease in cats is weight loss and appetite fluctuations. Your cat may experience a decrease in appetite and subsequently lose weight. This is because the kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from the blood, and when they are not functioning properly, it can lead to a loss of appetite and weight. On the other hand, an increased appetite may also be a sign of kidney disease, as your cat tries to compensate for the loss of nutrients through the kidneys’ inability to retain essential substances. If you notice your cat experiencing weight loss or changes in their eating habits, it’s important to schedule a visit to the veterinarian for evaluation and potential testing for kidney disease.

Lethargy and Hiding Behavior

You may also observe lethargy and hiding behavior in your cat if they are suffering from kidney disease. The kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of electrolytes and regulating blood pressure. When they are not functioning properly, it can lead to a buildup of waste products and toxins in the bloodstream, which can make your cat feel lethargic and unwell. Additionally, your cat may exhibit hiding behaviors due to discomfort or a natural instinct to seek seclusion when feeling unwell. If you notice your cat becoming increasingly lethargic or spending more time hiding, it’s essential to seek veterinary attention to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate care.

Clinical Symptoms and Diagnosis

For your cat, the first signs of kidney disease are often subtle and easily missed. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more noticeable. Common clinical signs of kidney disease in cats include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take your cat to the veterinarian for a thorough evaluation.

Blood Work and Urinalysis

When your cat is suspected of having kidney disease, your veterinarian will likely recommend blood work and urinalysis. Blood work can reveal elevated levels of waste products, such as creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), which indicate decreased kidney function. Urinalysis can show abnormalities such as protein loss and the presence of red or white blood cells, which are indicative of kidney damage or inflammation. These tests are crucial in diagnosing and assessing the severity of kidney disease in your cat.

Imaging and Kidney Biopsy

In some cases, your veterinarian may also recommend imaging techniques, such as ultrasound or x-rays, to visualize the size and shape of the kidneys and look for any abnormalities. Additionally, a kidney biopsy may be performed to obtain a small sample of kidney tissue for microscopic examination. This can provide important information about the underlying cause of kidney disease in your cat and help guide treatment options. While these procedures may sound daunting, they are essential for accurately diagnosing and managing kidney disease.


Considering all points, it is important for you to be aware of the signs of kidney disease in your cat. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can ensure early detection and timely treatment, which can significantly improve the outcome for your feline friend. Remember to look out for symptoms such as increased thirst, urination, weight loss, and loss of appetite, and to consult with your veterinarian if you notice any concerning changes in your cat’s behavior or health. Taking these steps can make a difference in managing kidney disease in your cat and maintaining their quality of life.


Q: What are the common signs of kidney disease in cats?

A: Common signs of kidney disease in cats include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Additionally, you may notice your cat has bad breath, a rough or unkempt coat, and an overall decline in their overall health and wellness.

Q: How can I tell if my cat has kidney disease?

A: If you suspect your cat may have kidney disease, it’s important to have them examined by a veterinarian. Your vet can perform blood tests and urinalysis to evaluate kidney function. Additionally, imaging such as X-rays and ultrasounds may be used to further assess the kidneys. It’s important not to delay seeking veterinary care if you suspect kidney disease, as early detection and treatment can significantly impact your cat’s quality of life.

Q: What can I do to help manage my cat’s kidney disease?

A: Once a diagnosis of kidney disease has been made, your veterinarian will work with you to develop a treatment plan. This may include dietary changes, such as a prescription kidney diet, as well as medications to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. It’s important to monitor your cat closely, ensure they have access to fresh water at all times, and attend regular veterinary check-ups to monitor their kidney function and overall health.

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