When to Euthanize a Cat With Kidney Failure

By Lisa McQuerrey

When your cat’s kidney failure reaches a point that quality of life is significantly diminished and she experiences unmanageable pain or severe discomfort from her symptoms, it may be time to consider the loving and pain-free option of euthanasia.

Diagnosis of Kidney Failure

When your cat is diagnosed with kidney failure, your vet will provide you with an overview of expectations for the progression of the disease. When kidneys begin to shut down, it negatively impacts all other organ systems because the kidneys are no longer able to effectively filter and eliminate waste from the body. While early stages can be managed through rehydration and monitoring electrolytes, as the disease progresses, it can impact other bodily functions, eventually leading to gradual system shutdowns.

Ask your vet about ways to effectively treat your cat by managing early renal failure symptoms.

Determining Quality of Life

As your cat’s owner and advocate, you know what types of physical activities she enjoys. You're also in a position to recognize when she is feeling herself and when she is in pain. Once your cat is no longer able to care for herself, use the litter box or when she has diminished mobility, her quality of life is declining. She may hide or otherwise distance herself from the household. The term, “quality of life” is subjective and is different for every animal and pet owner. Remember that deciding if and when to euthanize your terminally ill cat is a difficult decision with no right or wrong time frame. This is a decision you should make in conjunction with your vet based on your cat’s overall health, well-being and prognosis and your personal feelings on the matter.

Caring for a cat with renal failure can be expensive, and there may reach a point when it's cost-prohibitive to continue care. Talk to your vet about anticipated expenses, consider your financial options and make a decision that's right for both you and your pet.

Making the Decision

When your cat is not responding to you, becomes severely dehydrated or incontinent and shows other signs of physical decline, end of life is approaching and it’s time to consider the final kindness of euthanizing. This procedure allows you to make the best choice on behalf of your pet to eliminate her suffering. If you wish, your vet will allow you to be present during the procedure. Planning in advance for how and when this will be handled can make this difficult step a bit easier.

Grief support groups exist for pet owners struggling to come to terms with the loss of their beloved pet.