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Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Cats

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Chronic renal (kidney) failure (CRF) is a common problem in all cat breeds. The digestion of food produces waste products, which are carried by blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products, and toxins build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease.

CRF affects all breeds of any age, although older pets are commonly affected, as the prevalence increases with age. The average age of diagnosis in cats is nine years. Breeds thought to be more susceptible include Abyssinians and Persians. CRF affects almost every body system causing many changes throughout the body and usually results in the following:

  • Abnormal filtration of blood and retention of waste materials
  • Failure of hormone production (including substances that stimulates the production of red blood cells [erythropoeitin])

  • Disturbance of fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance

    CRF can be caused by several different processes. These may include diseases, some of which can be secondary to other disease processes or trauma, that may have caused acute kidney failure such as:

  • Toxins
  • Poor blood flow and lack of oxygen (ischemia)
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Infections
  • Cancer (neoplasia)
  • Immune system abnormalities

    What to Watch For

  • Excessive drinking and urinating (Note - Increased urination is sometimes noted as pet using the litter box more frequently, urinating in abnormal places in the house or increased weight of the litter box)
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Halitosis (Bad Breath) in Cats
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination when walking
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Weight loss

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