Kidney disease is fairly common in cats, especially as they age. If you start noticing signs and symptoms of kidney infection, take Kitty to the vet right away. The sooner treatment begins, the better the potential outcome. Learn your cat's normal habits so abnormal ones quickly become obvious to you.
Litter Box Symptoms
If a kidney or urinary tract infection is present, Kitty may spend too much time in the litter box, straining to pee. She may have "accidents" outside the box or start peeing in different places around the house. When cleaning the litter box, check to see if any blood appears in the urine. If the urine smells very strong or looks cloudy, that's another indication of infection.
Kitty may frequently lick her genital area. She might be depressed and lethargic, refusing to eat. If your cat ever stops eating for more than a day, always call the vet. Other indications of possible kidney infection include weight loss, vomiting, panting or difficulty breathing, increased drinking, mouth ulcers and fever. If you pet her or pick her up, she might not want you touching her lower abdomen due to pain.
Your vet takes a urine sample from Kitty to make the diagnosis, as well as blood. The urine sample indicates what type of bacteria is involved in the infection, while the blood sample measures the amount of phosphate, creatinine and urea. If the cat appears seriously ill, she might receive an ultrasound or X-rays. Cats suffering from kidney infections may also become anemic, so your vet also checks for that.
Treatment consists of two phases, the short and long-term. Immediate treatment may include subcutaneous or intravenous fluids if Kitty is dehydrated, along with antibiotics to combat infection. The vet may prescribe other medications, depending on the diagnosis. Long-term treatment means a change of diet for Kitty. She needs food that won't tax her kidneys. Your vet can prescribe special dry or wet foods for felines with kidney conditions. You can try feeding her a low protein, low phosphate diet on your own, avoiding fish and fowl. Ask your vet for recommendations if choosing this route. Your cat will require regular checkups to monitor her condition.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.