Treating Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) in Cats | Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) in Cats
PetWave | Dog & Cat Information

Treating Chronic Renal Failure in Cats

Treatment Goals

Chronic renal failure (CRF) can exist but be asymptomatic in cats for a very long time – even for years. Normally, by the time an owner notices signs of renal failure and a diagnosis is made, the condition is irreversible. Nevertheless, there are a number of management techniques that can help maintain a cat’s quality of life. The goals of treating feline renal failure are to alleviate the signs of uremia (which is the build-up of nitrogenous wastes in the bloodstream), delay progression of the disease and make the cat as comfortable as possible, for as long as possible.

Treatment Options for Cats with Chronic Renal Failure

The most effective initial treatment for cats with CRF is aggressive fluid therapy. Because the cat’s kidneys can’t perform their normal tasks, circulating waste products must be artificially flushed out. Over-hydrating the cat by pushing fluids helps accomplish this. Fluid therapy is typically first administered intravenously through a sterile needle inserted into one of the cat’s veins. This is an inpatient procedure. Once the cat is rehydrated, fluids can be given under the skin (subcutaneously; normally in the scruff of the neck between the shoulder blades). How frequently fluids are given depends on the extent of kidney damage. Most owners quickly learn how to administer subcutaneous fluids at home.

Supportive care is essential to managing cats with CRF. Renal diets are available from several commercial cat food manufacturers. These diets are designed to reduce the amount of circulating waste products and reduce stress on the cat’s kidneys; they typically are low in protein, sodium and phosphorus, have a high-quality protein source and are high in calories. Canned food may be a better option than dry food for cats with CRF, because of the greater water content and increased palatability.

Oral and injectable medications are available to help control high blood pressure, address anemia, decrease stomach acidity, sooth the stomach lining and limit protein loss in the urine. Vitamin and mineral supplements, including vitamin B, sodium bicarbonate, potassium gluconate, potassium citrate, vitamin D and calcitriol, may be recommended. Blood transfusions can help severely anemic cats. Human recombinant erythropoietin is also available to counteract anemia.

Kidney transplants have become a legitimate option for owners of cats with chronic renal failure. Post-surgical survival is reportedly between 70% and 85%, with some cats living for years. Medication must be given for life after a kidney transplant to prevent rejection of the donor organ. These drugs have many potential side effects. Kidney transplants are only offered at a few veterinary teaching hospitals and specialty referral centers. The costs associated with this surgery typically exceed $5,000. Transplantation is something for owners to discuss with their veterinarian, particularly if their cat is only mildly to moderately ill and does not have underlying systemic illness. The kidney donors are often shelter cats that are adopted by the owner of the cat receiving the kidney.


Chronic renal failure is progressive and incurable. How long a cat can live comfortably with CRF is difficult to predict. Many cats have months or years of quality life ahead of them, if they are managed appropriately.

Source: PetWave


Cat Diarrhea

Diarrhea in Cats Guide: Here you'll find in-depth information on Diarrhea in cats including its...

Constipation in Cats

Constipation in Cats Guide: Here you'll find in-depth information on Constipation in cats including its...


Heartworm Disease in Cats Guide: Here you'll find in-depth information on heartworm disease in cats...

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance in Cats Guide: Here you'll find in-depth information on Lactose Intolerance in cats...

Arthritis in Cats

Arthritis in Cats: Learn about Arthritis, including how it affects your cat, and what options...


Dog Health Dog Health
Learn about the most common diseases affecting dogs
Puppy Training Getting a Puppy
A new puppy in the house can cause quite a whirlwind of excitement
Dog Breeds List of Dog Breeds
Comprehensive list of dog breeds with specific breed information

Find a Dog Breed?

With so many dog breeds to choose from, sometime it's easier to seach based on certain characterisitcs.

Caring for your Dog?

There is more to caring for your dog than just feeding it. Find out all you need to know to make sure your pet stays healthy.

Training your Dog?

A dog's behavior plays a key role in making a great pet. Training your dog makes a happier dog, and you will be happier too.

Ask a vet?

Have a question?
Ask a Vet Online NowSM

Ask a Vet

About Us | Review Board | Badges | Tell a Friend | Bookmark this Page | Submit Feedback | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Dog Breeds | Cat Breeds | Dog Health | Cat Health | Dog Training | Cat Training | Dog Care | Cat Care | Dog Adoption | Cat Food & Diet

Advertise on - A Pet360 Media Network Partner

Become a Fan of on Facebook Become a Fan on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter Email Friend about Tell your friends about PetWave

© 2015 PetWave Corporation. All rights reserved
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian. PetWave disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information view our Terms of Service.