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Kidney failure is the result of disease or injury to the kidneys, the organs that remove waste products from the body. As these organs begin to fail, waste products produced by normal body functions begin to accumulate, poisoning the animal. The result of these toxins building up can result in blood pressure rising to dangerous levels, seizures and shortness of breath from fluid buildup in the nervous system and lungs, and abnormal heartbeat from electrolyte imbalance. If left untreated, it will eventually result in death.
Kidney failure is classified as either "chronic"; the disease comes on gradually over a period of weeks or months and is often a result of the aging process. Giving the animal non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics and related medicines may also contribute to the onset of kidney disease. Kidney failure is termed "acute" when it suddenly appears – often as a result of trauma, such as poisoning or other injury - and is usually more severe than chronic.
The symptoms of feline (cat) kidney failure can include appetite loss, lethargy, vomiting and other digestive problems, increased thirst and increased urine output. The cat should be checked immediately by a veterinarian if it shows any of these symptoms.
While there isn't much a pet owner can do about an animal’s aging and the inevitable loss of some kidney function, you can help to lessen the chances of a pet developing kidney disease. This can be avoided by not feeding the animal very high amounts of protein; keeping the animal away from poisonous substances, such as antifreeze and most houseplants, as well as yard and household chemicals; and making sure the animal has access to plenty of clean drinking water. If blood tests or x-rays show that the animal has kidney disease, a veterinarian can advise the best course of treatment; many pets have lived for years with proper care and medicine.