Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

What do the Kidneys do?


The kidneys have many functions, although their primary roles are to concentrate and produce urine, conserve water, remove waste products from the blood and to regulate essential mineral levels.


Chronic kidney disease is common in elderly cats, clinical signs include:


  • Drinking a lot and urinating a lot (polyuria and polydipsia) 

    • If the kidneys are not concentrating urine properly, your cat cannot retain water as well so your cat will seem thirsty and urine more than normally. 

  • Weight loss 

    • When waste products cannot be excreted as they normally would be, the levels of these toxins cause nausea and anorexia. 

  • Uraemic breath 

  • Vomiting 

  • Anorexia (not wanting to eat) 

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Lethargy  

  • Matted coat


If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your vet. 


Chronic kidney disease cannot be treated but there are things that can be done to slow down progression. 


  • Diet: starting your cat on a specific diet which has the right level of phosphorus, sodium and protein will help prevent build-up of toxins. Always contact your vet before changing your pet’s food. 

  • Phosphate binders can be used to prevent build-up of phosphorus. 

  • Fluids: fluids may be used to address dehydration. 

  • Vitamins, supplementary vitamins may be prescribed by your veterinarian. 

  • Blood pressure medication, blood pressure can be increased during chronic renal failure so medication can be used to help address this. 

  • Always make regular check-ups with your vet.

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This advice is for UK pets only.Written by vets. Please always seek advice from your own veterinary surgeon if you have concerns about your animal, never try to treat an animal yourself or give any medication without veterinary supervision.