Kidney, Liver & Heart Problems in Cats

As your cat gets older the risk of suffering from a certain disease increases. It is important for you to recognise changes in your cat and symptoms that might indicate disease so that you can uncover the right treatment plan as quickly as possible.

Kidney Problems

The kidneys' main function is to filter toxins out of the bloodstream and excrete these waste products from the body through urine. Senior cats are particularly susceptible to contracting kidney problems. Kidney problems can be divided into three groups; prerenal kidney failure, renal kidney failure and postrenal kidney failure. Prerenal kidney failure occurs when the kidneys don't receive enough blood; renal failure, unfortunately, is very common in cats and occurs due to damage of the kidneys; postrenal kidney failure begins with urine not being excreted properly as a result of urinary tract infection, for example. Postrenal kidney failure is particularly common in tomcats and is considered an emergency. Your vet will perform blood tests, urine tests and clinical tests to determine what your cat is suffering from. In some cases, additional diagnostics such as an ultrasound, are necessary to obtain a diagnosis.


A very noticeable sign of kidney problems in cats is a sudden dramatic increase in water intake and more frequent urination. A sudden loss of appetite and vomiting can also indicate possible kidney problems and in some cases even bad condition, weight loss or a dull coat can be an indicator. If your cat has a (partially) blocked urinary tract you might notice an urge to push but no urine, or only a couple of drops, will be excreted.

Liver Problems

Liver disease can have very unpleasant consequences for your pet. The liver has many functions including the regulation of hormonal balance, metabolism and detoxification. Symptoms of liver disease can vary greatly and can be rather vague. Noticeable symptoms include a loss of appetite, change in water intake, weight loss, general poor condition or jaundice.

Heart Conditions

Unfortunately, cardiac problems are another common occurrence in cats. The most frequent type of cardiac problem in cats is the enlargement of the cardiac muscle, also known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to shortness of breath, rear limb paralysis or even sudden death. Breeders usually screen each of the parents for this type of (hereditary) conditions.


Symptoms of feline heart conditions include weight loss, apathy, decrease stamina, lack of appetite and breathing difficulties. It is possible for heart problems to lead to thrombosis (blood clot), which could cause paralysis of the hindquarters.

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