Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Cat CKD1

Chronic kidney disease is a relatively common condition in older cats. What are the risk factors for CKD that cat owners should be aware of? A large-scale retrospective study of over 1,200 cats from 755 veterinary hospitals was recently published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The authors found several potential indicators for recognizing and diagnosing CKD in cats.


The most common risk factors for CKD in cats were found to be:

  • Weight loss
  • Thin body condition
  • Dehydration
  • Having had general anesthesia in the prior year
  • Periodontal disease in the prior year
  • Cystitis (bladder inflammation) in the prior year

Significant, unexplained weight loss in cats can be an especially important indicator. Median weight loss during the previous 6-12 months of cats diagnosed with CKD was nearly 11% higher than in cats without CKD.

Cat CKD2

An awareness of all of these risk factors, as well as utilization of a couple of standard tests to diagnose CKD (called serum creatinine concentration (SCD) and urine specific gravity (USG)), can result in earlier treatment and better outcomes for cats suffering from chronic kidney disease.


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