How to Prevent Kidney Disease in Cats

VCA Animal Hospitals estimates that 30-40% of cats over ten years old and 81% of cats over 15 years old will experience chronic kidney disease.

Kidney disease in cats is one of the most common illnesses pet owners need to be aware of because the kidneys can lose significant function before symptoms become noticeable. Unfortunately, while you can treat cat kidney disease and manage the condition, there is no cure.

However, there are several things you can do to prevent kidney disease in your cat. Read on to learn about them.

1. See the Vet Regularly

Of course, you always want to see your vet if you notice something wrong with your cat.

But cats are masters at hiding pain and illness. So once there are noticeable symptoms of cat kidney disease, it’s likely that 60-75% of kidney function has already been lost. If there is already this much kidney damage, most cats won’t respond to the treatment options available, and their health will quickly decline.

Thus, you want to visit the vet yearly until your cat is seven. After that, visit twice yearly for routine wellness and preventive care, like kidney disease prevention.

Your vet can screen for chronic kidney disease during these visits with a simple blood test to ensure early detection should your cat be ill. Cats that receive an early diagnosis of kidney disease can live a long and good quality life with treatment.

2. Make Going to the Bathroom Easy

Urinating removes toxins from the body and prevents waste from backing up. Yet, cats are pretty particular about their litter box preferences. They may hold in their pee if unsatisfied with their litter box situation. Here are some tips to ensure your cat has a stress-free bathroom environment:

  • Have enough litter boxes in your home (one for each cat, plus one extra)
  • Keep litter boxes on each level of the house in quiet spots, not by loud appliances
  • Clean the litter boxes daily by scooping out waste
  • Empty and clean the litter boxes once a week with hot water and soap, then let them dry completely before refilling them again
  • Don’t suddenly switch litter types, as it can irritate your cat

You should also pay attention to your cat’s bathroom habits. If you notice any of these symptoms, your cat may be having a health issue:

  • Urinating excessively
  • Urinating blood
  • Expressing unusual vocalization while using the litter box
  • Frequently going to the bathroom outside the litter box

3. Encourage Fresh Water Consumption

Water flushes toxins out of the body, helping the kidneys function their best. Therefore, you want to encourage your cat to drink plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated. However, cats can be stubborn about their water intake and picky about the water available. Cats especially don’t like dirty drinking water.

To make drinking more appealing, try these tips:

  • Keep water bowls throughout the house and change the water once or twice daily
  • Include tuna juice or chicken broth in your cat’s diet
  • Feed wet food in place of dry food, or mix wet food with kibble
  • Give ice cubes
  • Since cats love running water, use a water fountain or let the sink drip for a few hours per day

4. Manage Weight

There is a strong correlation between weight gain and diabetes in both humans and cats. Further, diabetes often leads to kidney failure. This is because high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, affecting their function. Diabetes can also cause high blood pressure, which can damage the kidneys.

Preventing weight gain in your cat will help prevent diabetes, kidney disease, and several other life-threatening conditions. To avoid excessive weight gain, follow these tips:

  • Ask your vet how much your cat should eat per day and accurately measure the food
  • Decide how many times a day you will feed your cat and split their daily calorie intake by that number
  • Even though cats like to eat minimal amounts frequently throughout the day, avoid free feeding
  • Save some of your cat’s calories intake for healthy treats

If your cat is a picky eater, include pet supplements in their food so they don’t miss out on crucial nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies can cause many different ailments. Not to mention, nutritional intervention is one of the best treatments for kidney disease, so ensuring your cat eats a balanced diet is essential for kidney disease prevention.

5. Keep Toxins and Medications Out of Reach

Several plant and flower species are highly toxic to cats. If your cat ingests a poisonous plant, such as lilies, which are notoriously deadly to cats, it could cause significant kidney damage.

Always research the plants or flowers you want to bring into your home to ensure they aren’t dangerous for your cat.

You should also ensure you store all medications safely. This includes both human medicines and cat medicines. It can be easy for a cat to accidentally get into and eat a drug that is toxic to them.

If your cat accidentally ingests a toxic substance, call and visit your vet immediately, even if they don’t show poisoning symptoms.

Notice the Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Although taking steps to prevent kidney disease is ideal for your cat’s health, it doesn’t guarantee it won’t get kidney disease. Thus, you should be aware of the symptoms of kidney disease so that you can keep an eye out for them, especially as your cat age. They include:

  • Increased thirst
  • More frequent urination
  • A “uremic” smell in the little box caused by more ammonia in the blood
  • Weight loss
  • Fur loss
  • Selective appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Weakness and lethargy

Schedule a vet appointment if you ever notice even just one of these symptoms. The sooner your cat gets a diagnosis and treatment, the better.

Take Steps to Prevent Kidney Disease in Cats

Although kidney disease in cats is common, it doesn’t mean your cat has to suffer. Making these small changes and taking extra care can help your cat live a long, healthy life. It’s worth implementing these preventative measures for both your and your cat’s happiness.

If you found this article useful, explore the rest of the blog for more cat health tips and tricks.

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Sciences & Philosophy from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes in writing and remote animal behavior consulting, as well as courses on how to manage aggressive dogs and litter box issues. In 2016, she obtained her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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