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Kidney Disease in Cats: What Cat Owners Should Know

Reviewed by Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM on Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Posted September 28, 2015 in Cat Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Cat sitting on the couch as the owner looks on

Perhaps the most important thing to know about kidney disease in cats is that way too many cats are affected by it. In fact, studies show that 1 in 3 cats suffer from kidney disease, reports Dr. Celeste Clements. Cats can get kidney disease for any number of underlying reasons, and even worse, it’s difficult to spot. Most cats show no outward signs of kidney disease until the problem is very advanced. Even when they do, the first signals of kidney disease in cats are easy to miss, including subtle weight loss, urinating/peeing more often and drinking more water. Therefore, if you notice your cat is peeing on the floor, soaking the litter box, or if your cat is always thirsty, it’s time to visit your veterinarian.

However, once these signs are present, there’s typically already been a great deal of kidney damage. Fortunately, new advances in the veterinary world are making it easier to find kidney disease in cats earlier (even without signs being present).

What is kidney disease in cats?
Kidney disease in cats is notoriously hard to catch early and can have devastating effects on our feline friends. In general, kidney disease (sometimes called “kidney failure”) happens when your cat’s kidneys stop doing their job as well as they should. (Learn more about what kidneys do for your cat.) This damage, once done, is usually permanent and can be caused by a variety of issues. (Learn more about 10 common causes of kidney disease in cats.)

Kidney disease in cats is classified in two primary ways, as:

  • Chronic kidney disease in cats
  • Acute kidney injury in cats

Learn more about kidney disease in cats:
Since kidney disease impacts so many cats and early detection is so critical, it’s a great idea for any cat parent to learn and know everything you can about the disease. We’ve included some in-depth articles about kidney disease in cats and additional tools below, as well as a quick quiz and tips for helping keep your cat’s kidneys as healthy as possible for the long-haul:

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Jason has over 6 years of experience in the pet health industry and is managing editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.