Kidney Disease in Cats & Sweet-Smelling Urine

When cats suffer from kidney disease, their kidneys stop working efficiently and chemicals that need to be removed from their bodies are not flushed out with their urine. Instead, the chemicals remain in their bodies causing uremic poisoning. Catching kidney problems early by watching for the symptoms and seeking treatment improves the cat’s risk of survival. However, sweet-smelling urine is not one of those symptoms and actually may be a sign of another health problem: diabetes.

Persian cat, 2 years old, in front of white background
Persian cats are one breed with a genetic predisposition for kidney disease.
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Kidney Disease Symptoms

kitten in blue plastic litter cat
Cats with kidney disease may start urinating outside the litter box.
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The earliest symptom of kidney disease among cats is increased urination and increased thirst. As the kidneys stop working properly, they can no longer store water efficiently so the cats must urinate more often. As a result of the loss of water, the cat’s thirst increases. The cat may make more visits to the litter box and may start urinating outside the litter box. As the condition worsens, your cat may suffer from urinary tract infections. Without treatment, the cat will start showing signs of uremic poisoning which include vomiting, sluggishness, and ammonia-smelling breath. Uremic poisoning is fatal if not treated early.

Sweet Smelling Urine & Diabetes

cat drinking water in bathroom
Increased thirst is a symptom of both kidney disease and diabetes in cats.
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Although changes in urination are symptoms of kidney disease in cats, sweet smelling urine usually is connected to diabetes. In cats who have diabetes, their bodies either do not produce enough insulin or use that insulin inefficiently which causes high levels of glucose to remain in the body unused. Increased thirst and urination are also symptoms of diabetes. Plus, diabetic cats may consume a lot of food but may have unexplained weight loss.