Kidney Disease in Cats - How To Spot The Warning Signs?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a common illness seen in older cats that can sometimes be mistaken for old age. This is because symptoms don’t display until an advanced stage, meaning it can go undetected and unmanaged.

One of the reasons to take your pet for a regular veterinary checkup is because illnesses such as CKD can be detected by vets at earlier stages. While CKD can’t be cured it can be managed and, if diagnosed early enough, there is a good chance of extending a cat’s life expectancy, potentially doubling the time they would have had left without treatment.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “CKD develops gradually, and many cats won’t show any symptoms until three quarters of their kidney function is lost. Changes to diet and medication can help to keep your cat well for longer, so it’s really important to get advice from your vet if you notice your cat displaying any symptoms.”

Early signs of CKD can include:

  • Gradual weight loss

  • Drinking and urinating more frequently

  • Reduced appetite

  • Sleeping more

  • A poor coat

  • Being off their food completely

  • A lack of energy

  • Bad breath, especially with a “urine-like” ammonia smell

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Reduced appetite

  • Sleeping more

The kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste products from the blood. As CKD means the kidneys aren’t working as well, toxins build up in the cat’s body. This makes them feel unwell and causes other symptoms listed above.

Olivia added: “CKD can be successfully managed if diagnosed early enough. There are diets and treatments that can slow the development of the disease, as well as improve a cat’s quality of life. The earlier the disease is picked up, the better the chances of successfully slowing its progression.”

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above then make a vet appointment as soon as possible. If your pet is diagnosed with CKD, your vet may recommend medication and a special diet, which helps reduce the amount of work the kidneys have to do. Changes to a cat’s diet are particularly effective at managing the disease. Your cat will also need regular checkups and monitoring, but with careful management, cats with CKD can still have a good quality of life.

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