Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats

Do you have a cat? Are you concerned about the possibility that they might have kidney disease? Kidney disease is common in cats, especially as they get older. As a responsible cat owner, you may want to brush up on the symptoms of this condition so you can recognize it as early as possible.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common symptoms of kidney disease in cats. You can use this information to determine when it is time to see a veterinary internal medicine specialist and find out more about your cat’s potential health condition. Read on to learn more. If you have any questions, ask your veterinarian about a referral to Atlantic Veterinary Internal Medicine in Annapolis at (410) 224-0121, Towson at (410) 828-0911 or Columbia at (410) 441-3304.

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Weight Loss and Appetite Loss

Cats who are dealing with kidney disease or kidney failure will likely not feel like eating very much. They may be completely uninterested in food or may only want to eat specific types of food. At the same time, they may lose weight.

These symptoms are not specific. A wide variety of cat health problems can cause weight loss and decreased appetite. If these are the only symptoms you notice, kidney disease could be the culprit, but so could any number of other diseases. Your veterinarian will need to run some tests to know for sure.

Lethargy and Weakness

A wide range of health problems, including kidney disease, can cause lethargy and weakness. Cats who are very sick with kidney disease may have decreased energy and may have trouble getting up and moving around.  Lethargy and weakness are both serious problems. Your vet or emergency vet should address these as soon as possible.

Diarrhea and Vomiting

Diarrhea and vomiting may also be indicators of kidney failure. However, these symptoms can go along with many other health problems.


Dehydration can occur from diarrhea and vomiting in cats. Dehydration may also occur when your cat’s kidneys no longer work normally and when your cat is not drinking enough water. If the dehydration is severe, your cat may need IV fluids and, possibly, several days of treatment in the hospital.

Bad Breath

Kidney disease is one cause of bad breath in the cat. When kidneys start to fail, they become less capable of removing waste from the bloodstream. As this waste builds up, your cat’s breath will smell worse. The bad breath associated with kidney disease may have an ammonia odor.

Increased Thirst and Urination

Your cat’s kidney disease may lead to an increase in their thirst and urination. You may notice them drinking a lot more and rushing to the litter box many frequently than they used to. Other diseases may cause increased drinking and urination. Your vet will want to run tests to determine the cause of your cat’s increased thirst and urination.

As you can see, there are several symptoms associated with kidney disease in cats. However, they are not specific for kidney disease; they are also associated with other feline health problems. Your vet will want to do a complete physical examination and run some lab tests to determine whether your cat has kidney disease. Your vet may also recommend additional tests, such as x-rays and ultrasound. Referral to a veterinary internal medicine specialist may be helpful in confirming the diagnosis and providing a comprehensive treatment plan.