What Pet Owners Need to Know About a Kidney Infection in Cats

Kidney Infection in Cats
Kidney Infection in Cats

Kidney infections in cats are a problem that can occur at any age. The term kidney infection, also known by the medical term “pyelonephritis,” is commonly mistaken for any infection that involves the urinary tract.

Below, we provide links to other types of urinary tract infections in cats that occur more frequently than kidney infections, so as to differentiate between the two types of illnesses:

Common Diseases of the Feline Urinary Tract

There are several types of urinary tract diseases that can affect cats, including:

The urinary tract is a system made up of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra, which work to produce, transport, store, and excrete urine. The urinary tract also rids the body of fluid waste materials and has other vitally important functions, including controlling the volume and composition of the body fluids.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs. The indentation of the “bean” is called the hilus, which is the area where the blood vessels, nerves, and ureters both enter and leave the kidney. The structural and functional unit of the kidney is the nephron, and there are hundreds of these microscopic filtering units, with each having the ability to form urine by itself.

Each nephron consists of a circular ball-shaped cluster of small blood vessels called a glomerulus and a small tube called a renal tubule. Nephrons are responsible for removing urea, which is combined with water and other waste products to produce urine.

How Kidney Infections Occur

There are two ways cats can get a kidney infection. The first—and most common way—is from having a lower urinary tract infection (such as an infection of the bladder) that ascends to the kidneys. The other is from an infection spread through the blood.

Signs of a Kidney Infection in Cats

Signs of a kidney infection in cats can vary. They may include:

  • Abdominal pain that can sometimes appear as back pain
  • Abnormal odor of the urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Crying during urination (painful urination)
  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination (can be more frequent urination or increased volume)
  • Lethargy or increased sleeping
  • Straining to urinate
  • Vomiting

Infection of the kidneys can be life-threatening and lead to kidney failure. Prompt and thorough treatment is critical.

How Pet Insurance Helps Cover Serious Issues

Cat urinary problems are generally not a cause for extreme concern unless an infection has spread to their kidneys. Either way, your cat should be checked out by a veterinarian as soon as you realize that something may be wrong.

How much will treatment cost for a cat with a kidney infection? The answer is that it depends on how sick your cat is, if it has any pre-existing conditions, where you live and what treatments are recommended.

Very minor infections in cats can be treated with antibiotics on an outpatient basis, but more severe infections may have to be treated in a veterinary hospital with intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, and medications to treat vomiting and other digestive issues.

The cost of these treatments can range from $200 for simple outpatient care at your regular veterinarian to over $5,000, depending on if your vet does radiographs (X-rays), blood tests, urinalysis, or if they have to hospitalize your cat.

Pet insurance can help pay for these costs. Depending on your policy, your provider may pay 80%, 90%, or even 100% after your deductible. Have you looked into pet insurance yet? If not, take a minute now to see if pet insurance is right for you and your cat.