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Pet Diagnostic Services: Acute Kidney Failure in Cats 

What is acute renal failure? 

Acute renal failure (ARF) or severe kidney failure (AKF) describes the abrupt failure of the kidneys to do regular filtration responsibilities.  This really isn’t the same as the far more common type of kidney failure known as chronic kidney disease (CKD).   

Pet Diagnostic Services is extremely important if your cat has ARF contributes to the accumulation of toxins and other metabolic wastes from the blood, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and disturbances at the acid-base equilibrium of their blood.   Elderly cats are at a greater risk of developing ARF.  

“ARF is potentially reversible if diagnosed early and treated aggressively.” 

Acute-Kidney-Failure-in-CatsWhat are the clinical signs of acute renal failure? 

The clinical indications of ARF might consist of sudden anorexia (not eating), listlessness, nausea (the vomited material may have blood inside), nausea which may also include blood, a strange breath odor, or seizures.  Some cats will urinate more often while others might not be generating any urine in any way.  

There might be a recent history of consumption of a poison (particularly antifreeze) or of a current injury, surgery, or disease.  Many cats have been in shock from the time they get to the veterinary hospital.  The vet will often find painful and enlarged erections throughout the physical exam.    

What causes acute renal failure? 

  • There are numerous causes of ARF. Some of the more common causes include: 
  • ureteral or urethral obstruction (i.e., the cat cannot urinate) 
  • antifreeze poisoning (ethylene glycol toxicity) 
  • systemic shock 
  • heart failure 
  • hypotension or low blood pressure 
  • clotting disorders 
  • ingestion of drugs such as NSAIAs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics) or certain antibiotics 
  • insect or snake bites 
  • ingestion of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, or thallium 
  • ingestion of toxic plants, especially lilies 
  • ingestion of rodenticides (rat poison) 
  • pyelonephritis (a bacterial infection of the kidney) 
  • feline infectious peritonitis 

How is acute renal failure diagnosed? 

Diagnosis is based on medical history, clinical signs, and the results of blood and urine tests. Other diagnostic tests may include abdominal radiographs (X-rays), sometimes using a radiographic contrast or dye, abdominal ultrasound, fine-needle aspiration (sampling the kidney using a long needle), or surgical biopsy of the kidneys. 

What is the treatment for acute renal failure? 

Treatment is focused on eliminating the circulating toxins as promptly as you can and restoring electrolyte equilibrium.  This is normally achieved by administering intravenous fluids for twenty-five to ninety-six hours (1 to 4 times).   Cat Diagnostic Services is extremely important for the treatment of renal failure. 

Peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis (purifying the blood of toxins, like an individual waiting for a kidney transplant might receive) are seldom performed but may be available locally.  If toxin exposure or a medication reaction is suspected, it’s suggested that the stomach be emptied of its contents immediately, followed by the administration of activated charcoal to prevent additional absorption of toxins.    

Nutritional support may be necessary for cats with uncontrollable or persistent nausea.  Your veterinarian will recommend an aggressive treatment strategy to provide your cat the best chance of recovering from ARF.  

Acute-Kidney-Failure-in-CatsWhat is the prognosis for a cat diagnosed with acute renal failure? 

The initial prognosis is guarded for the majority of cases of ARF.  If the cause is an infection, there’s a better prognosis than if the reason is a toxic substance.  The long-term outlook for recovery is dependent upon the quantity of kidney damage that has occurred.  

The kidney has very little capability to regenerate or heal itself, justifying the guarded prognosis.  Your vet will provide you with a more precise prognosis according to your cat’s clinical signs, results of laboratory tests, and patient illness. 

At Grah Kingston, we have a diverse and talented team of Veterinary professionals. You can trust the skills of our vets, leaving the care and treatment of your pet in their capable hands. Let us earn your trust by becoming one of our veterinary families at GRAH  


Schedule A Pet Diagnostic  service in  Kingston Appointment with One of Our Best Veterinarians Today 



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