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tips on how to help your cat with kidney disease

What You Need to Know About Your Cat’s Kidney Disease

Our cats’ kidneys are responsible for filtering blood, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure, stimulates the bone marrow to make more red blood cells, and much more. These two small, bean-shaped organs are essential to the life of our feline companions. What though, happens when our older cats’ bodies stop working as they used to and how can we keep our cats comfortable throughout their older years?

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Kidney (Renal) Disease in Cats

Although some cats are born with kidney problems, what I’m focusing on today is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD is the persistent loss of kidney function over time and is very common in older and even middle-aged cats.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats Include:

  • Frequent urination, bloody urine, or cloudy urine.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite.
  • Stomach issues such as vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • Recurring bladder or kidney infections.
  • Mouth ulcers or a dull brownish-colored tongue.
  • Bad breath. It may smell like ammonia or urine.
  • Dry skin, coat, or eyes.
  • Weakness, irritability, or fatigue.

The only definitive way to know if your cat has kidney disease is to have her evaluated by a veterinarian who can run tests to diagnose the problem. Cats under 7 need an annual vet wellness visit and cats over 7 will require bi-annual visits. The sooner CKD is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. CKD cannot yet be cured, but treatment can prolong life.

Home Care for a Cat with Kidney Disease

In addition to seeking help from your veterinarian for kidney treatments, there are things that you can do to make your feline have a better quality of life.

Photo of Catit Cat Drinking Water Fountain

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Drinking a healthy amount of water will help your cats’ urinary tract, including the kidneys. Encouraging your cat to drink is one of the best things that you can do for her. My cat Olivia is a bit of a water bowl snob, so I’ve had to get creative to keep her hydrated. What works best for her is the Catit Flower Fountain.

From a scientific standpoint, cats are more inclined to drink from moving water. This is because of their natural instincts. In the wild, moving water is usually cleaner than stagnant water, so using a fountain rather than a bowl will encourage her to drink!

In addition, the Catit Flower Fountain uses a special filtration system to keep their water clean and healthy for your kitty.

Photo of a pack of Simple Solution Training Puppy Pads

Protect against accidents. Your cat may lose control over her bladder as CKD advances. Placing Training Pads down in her favorite areas can help soak up her potential accidents, making clean-up less of a hassle for you. Training pads are marketed for dogs but work well for felines too.

In fact, even though my cat doesn’t have CKD, I often buy large training pads to put under the litter box because sometimes Olivia “misses the box” and pees just outside it. Find more litter box hacks here.

Photo of a tube of Vetoquinol Renal K

Add a renal supplement to your cats’ daily routine. Vetoquinol Renal K+ Potassium Supplement Gel is a great option. It comes in a tasty, maple-flavored gel to support normal renal health in cats and dogs.  I personally prefer supplements, like this one, or ones that are disguised as a treat. Olivia always refuses pills even if they are hidden in food. If your kitty is this same, then try this gel supplement. 

Choose a kidney healthy diet. Some cat food brands have formulas that are specially created for cats with kidney problems or for older cats in general.

Best Senior Food for Cats with Kidney Disease

Photo of a bag of Purina Pro Plan Senior Dry Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Senior 7+ Adult Dry Cat Food is one of my go-to suggestions for senior cats in general because it provides healthy vitamins and minerals older cats need such as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.

Photo of a can of Purina Pro Plan Urinary Tract Health Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Urinary Tract Health Adult Wet and Dry Food is a great option for a cat that you suspect is beginning to have renal issues. It’s designed to help maintain cats’ urinary tract health by reducing urinary pH and providing low dietary magnesium.

Photo of a bag of Blue Buffalo Kidney Support Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food or Wet Canned Cat Food is made with controlled levels of sodium and protein to help manage your cats’ kidney workload. You’ll need a prescription for these Blue Buffalo foods, but a diet prescription is easy to obtain. Simply place your order with and they’ll reach out to your veterinarian for approval.

Extra Care & Attention for Your Senior Cat

Remember that your older cat will have increased aches and pains as they age further, so be extra caring to them. This is especially true if they have health issues such as CKD. Even in their senior years though, cats still have a lot of love and companionship to exchange!

Download your free monthly cat health checklist.

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. My cat Hermione, age 18, has been on Royal Canin perscription renal cat fiod for a few years and may be allergic to it. Is there another brand of renal cat food that may be a better option from an allergy standpoint? We switched her to a hydrolized protein food from Royal Canin temporarily, but I’d prefer to keep her on a kidney maintenance diet if possible. She likes a combination of wet and dry food.

    1. Hi Stacey,
      Wow, Hermione is 18! You must take great care of him. Bless you!

      There are three other renal support diets for cats that I’m aware of. They are Hills Science Diet, Purina Pro Plan NF, and Blue Buffalo K + M (kidney and mobility). I found them all on

      I hope Hermione likes one of them!


  2. Hello,
    We took our older cat in today to a medical hospital. It was reccomended by a veterinarian. We were told that she has severely elevated kidney values according to the blood work. Our cat hasn’t been eating or drinking the past 3-4 days. The odd thing is, she only started acting differently about a month ago when we started to clean her new kitty pad with bleach. Last week we threw out that pad and cleaned our washroom (where her litter box is) with just soap and water.
    The veterinarian said that we basically are out of options, they want to uthenize her. I don’t agree. I believe their are always other options.
    We brought her home today after they injected her with fluids and gave her wet cat food with some extra water added into her food. She ate almost all her food. She hasn’t touched her water yet, we are just thinking it’s because of the fluids she was given today.
    Do you have any tips we can try to get her to drink her water?? We got her a new water bowl that looks more like a waterfall (it was the only one available)

    1. Sydney,

      I’m so sorry your kitty has been sick. It truly breaks our hearts when our pets aren’t well. And when it comes to our pet’s health, it’s sometimes helpful to get a second opinion. Especially with something so serious. Since I’m not a veterinarian, I can’t say for certain. But it does sound like maybe your cat was hydrated after receiving fluids and wet cat food. My cat, Olivia, loves to drink from her water fountain ( Giving your cat wet food, with water added is another good way to boost her hydration.

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