Sixteen out of every 1,000 cats that are examined suffer from chronic renal disease. And while cats of any age can be diagnosed with the kidney disease, it is more commonly seen in older cats.
Failure of the kidney -- which among other things regulates blood pressure, blood sugar, blood volume, water composition in the blood, and pH levels, and produces red blood cells and certain hormones -- can take so place so slowly, that by the time the symptoms have become obvious, it may be too late to treat the condition effectively. Often, the kidney will find ways to compensate as it loses functionality over the course of months, or even years.
While chronic renal failure cannot be reversed or cured, treatment and management aimed at reducing the contributing factors and symptoms can slow its progression.
Chronic renal failure can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms often occur gradually over an extended period. In addition, symptoms may vary and not all of these listed below will be seen in every cat:
Seizures and comas
Blood in the urine (hematuria)
An increase in the frequency and amount of urination
Causes of kidney failure can include kidney disease, urinary blockage (obstruction of the urinary tract or of the ureters), certain prescription medications, lymphoma, diabetes mellitus, and genetic (hereditary) factors.
Owners of Abyssinian or Persian cats should be especially aware of this condition, as these two breeds are prone to chronic renal failure.
Your cat will undergo a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Cats with chronic renal failure may have anemia, abnormal electrolyte levels, and elevated blood pressure. The levels of certain protein enzymes and chemicals such as creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) will also be high.
Another good indicator of chronic renal failure is urine that is neither concentrated or dilute, thus indicating the kidney's inability to process the urine correctly. X-ray or ultrasound imaging may also be used to observe the size and shape of the cat's kidney(s) to see if there are any visibly noticeable abnormalities. Often, chronic renal failure causes kidneys to become abnormally small.