Is Kidney Failure in Cats Painful?

By Krista Sheehan

Kidney failure is a common problem experienced by cats. The condition occurs when the cat's kidneys begin to fail, resulting in a buildup of waste products in the blood. This waste eventually begins to poison the cat, resulting in a painful and devastating disease.

White cat lying down

"Beowi" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Morgan Sutherland (Morgan Sutherland) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.


Kidney failure may be either chronic or acute. Chronic kidney failure is a slow-moving, irreversible destruction of the kidneys. Acute kidney failure, on the other hand, is an abrupt shutdown of the kidneys. Both types of kidney failure are serious and potentially fatal.


Kidney failure may be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, age, diet, environment and disease. Unfortunately, because there is not one main cause of kidney failure in cats, there are no definitive prevention techniques either.


The most common symptoms of kidney failure in cats include increased thirst and urination. However, as the disease progresses, the cat will likely experience a loss of appetite, nausea, dehydration, weight loss, vomiting, lethargy and emaciation, among others.


Although kidney failure itself may not be painful in cats, its associated symptoms do cause pain and discomfort. The cat will likely experience a constant state of nausea, possibly gagging at the sight or smell of food. Dehydration, constipation and stomach irritation lead to emaciation, weakness and total lethargy.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic kidney failure in cats. A treatment strategy of a specialized diet, medication and diuresis will help control the symptoms and provide comfort. Acute kidney failure may be reversed if immediate and aggressive veterinarian treatment is available for the cat.