PDSA advice on spotting kidney disease in cats

Chronic kidney disease is a common illness seen in older cats that’s often mistaken for old age.

In their PDSA Pet Care Column, vet charity, PDSA offer advice on spotting the warning signs of kidney disease in cats.

PDSA advise that regular veterinary checks can mean that vets can detect illnesses such as CKD at an earlier stage. While CKD can’t be cured, it can be managed and, if diagnosed early enough, there is a good chance of extending a cat’s life expectancy.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “CKD develops gradually. Generally, cats won’t show any symptoms until three quarters of their kidney function is lost. Changes to diet and medication can’t help to keep your cat well for longer, so it’s really important to get advice from your vet if you notice your cat displaying any symptoms.”

Early signs of CKD include:

  • Gradual weight loss
  • Drinking and urinating more frequently
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sleeping more

More advanced signs can include:

  • A poor coat
  • Being off their food completely
  • A lack of energy
  • Bad breath, especially with a ‘urine-like’ ammonia smell
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Sudden blindness

Because the kidneys aren’t working well, toxins can build up in the cat’s body. This makes them feel unwell and causes many of the other symptoms listed above.

Olivia added: “CKD can be successfully managed if diagnosed early enough. There are diets and treatments that can slow the development of the disease, as well as improve a cat’s quality of life. It’s possible to predict exactly how long each cat with kidney disease cat will live, but the sooner treatment is started the better the outlook for your cat.”

The PDSA advise that if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, then make sure a vet appointment as soon as possible.

If your pet is diagnosed with CKD, your vet may recommend medication and a special diet, which helps reduce the amount of work the kidneys have to do.

Your cat will also need regular check-ups and monitoring but, with careful management, cats with CKD can still have a good quality of life.