Feline Kidney Failure Symptoms

Feline kidney failure can be hard to detect, as cats can hide their symptoms well. Always monitor your cat's behavior for signs of kidney problems. Cats are adept at hiding sicknesses, as that is seen as a weakness-and a weak cat in the wild is a dead cat. Unfortunately, this characteristic doesn't help a housecat.

What can happen to a cat's kidneys?
First, you need to understand how your cat's kidneys work. A cat's kidneys have the same functions as a human's kidneys: to filter waste products; to regulate electrolytes such as sodium, phosphorus, potassium and calcium; to produce erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells; and to produce renin. Renin is an enzyme that controls the cat's blood pressure. The kidneys also produce and concentrate urine.

There are two types of kidney failure-chronic and acute. Chronic renal failure is progressive and takes place over time. Acute renal failure happens when the kidneys shut down abruptly. As your cat gets older, you should have your vet test for chronic renal failure every year. This test involves checking the blood, performing a urinalysis and checking the cat's blood pressure. If caught early enough, the cat may be able to live for quite a while if it is fed a proper diet, if it receives feline medication and if it is kept properly hydrated.

Many factors can cause chronic renal failure, including age, environment, disease, genetics, high blood pressure, acidic diets, dental disease and low potassium levels.

What are the signs of feline kidney failure?
Look for increased or excessive thirst and more frequent or excessive urination at first. As the disease progresses, you may notice that the cat has lost its appetite and may be often on the verge of vomiting. It will drop weight, and its coat becomes sickly looking.

Other symptoms include:
Gagging
Lip licking
Jaw grinding
Dehydration
Drooling
Constipation
Weight loss
Halitosis
Lethargy
Depression
Oral ulcers
Detached retinae

End-stage symptoms are convulsion, lowered temperature and coma.

Why is it so important to detect feline kidney failure symptoms early?
When you notice the symptoms, especially loss of appetite, about 70 percent of the cat's kidney function is lost. Cat kidneys can function at 30 percent, which means that you will probably not see any symptoms until that point. For that reason, your cat's survival depends on early detection.

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