The Best Diet for Cats with Kidney Disease

Are you worried about your cat’s health? Kidney disease can be managed through a special diet. Learn the best diet for cats with kidney disease–it can help improve their quality of life. You deserve to know what food is best for your feline friend.

Quick facts: Best Diet For Cats With Kidney Disease

  • ✅ Increase water intake – Offer small amounts of water throughout the day from the same water bowl – Source: International Renal Interest Society
  • ✅ Reduce protein intake – Cats with kidney disease should have reduced-protein diets – Source: VCA Hospitals
  • ✅ Add Omega-3 fatty acids – Supplementing a kidney diet with Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation – Source: Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
  • ✅ Control phosphorus levels – Foods with lower phosphorus content are recommended for cats with kidney disease – Source: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
  • ✅ Increase fiber intake – Increasing fiber in the diet can help reduce the amount of phosphorus cats absorb – Source: Feline Nutrition Foundation


Kidney disease is a common ailment among cats, resulting in a loss of function of the kidneys. Without proper diet and treatment, kidney disease can lead to organ failure, depression, and even death. As such, it is important for cat owners to understand what type of diet is best for cats with kidney disease and how to properly care for their beloved pet.

The best diets for cats with kidney disease are those that are low in phosphorus and high in carbohydrates, such as wet food or canned food. Wet food or canned food should be supplemented by vitamins and minerals specifically designed to help cats with kidney disease. In addition, feeding your cat multiple small meals throughout the day helps to manage blood sugar levels and reduce stress on the kidneys. Finally, regular exercise can help keep your cat healthy despite its kidney issues.

Causes of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease in cats is a common condition that can have multiple causes. It can be caused by a bacterial infection, improper diet, inflammation, or genetic predisposition. Knowing the underlying cause of kidney disease can help you determine the best diet for your cat.

Let’s explore the potential causes of kidney disease in cats:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Improper diet
  • Inflammation
  • Genetic predisposition


Infections are one of the leading causes of kidney disease in cats. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can all damage the kidneys. Cats that have been exposed to toxins or heavy metals can also be at a higher risk for developing kidney disease.

It is important to be aware of the signs that an infection may be present in a cat’s kidneys. These include excessive drinking, urinating, and vomiting. If an infection is suspected, a vet may need to run tests to determine what type of infection and how severe it is before they can provide treatment. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics or other medication and dietary changes such as reduced protein levels in order to reduce stress on the kidneys.


Toxins are one of the primary causes of kidney disease in cats. Toxins can be anything from heavy metals like lead or mercury to industrial chemicals, drugs, certain plants, and other environmental pollutants. These toxins can enter a cat’s body through their food and water or through their skin when grooming themselves. When toxins enter the blood stream, they travel to the kidneys where they can damage the organs’ delicate cells. Over time, this damage can lead to chronic kidney disease.

It is important for cat owners to provide healthy diets that are low in toxins and impart no added chemicals—like artificial preservatives or flavorings— into their pet’s diets. This will help keep your cat’s kidneys healthy and prevent future toxic build-up which may result in kidney disease.

Congenital Defects

Congenital defects are one of the underlying causes of kidney disease in cats. These are abnormalities that develop before or during the cat’s birth. They can occur due to genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of both.

Common congenital defects that can lead to kidney disease include polycystic renal disease (PKD), renal dysplasia and feline cystinuria. Other conditions such as congenital nephrotic syndrome and congenital bladder diseases may also predispose a cat to kidney problems later in life.

Many of these congenital defects cannot be prevented within cats, but if they are detected early enough there is potential for treatment and/or management to reduce their severity and slow the progression of any associated symptoms. Treatment options depend on the type and extent of damage caused by the defect, but may involve:

  • Dietary changes
  • Antibiotics
  • Supplements
  • Fluids
  • Other medications

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease in cats can cause many different symptoms including anorexia, vomiting, weight loss, increased water intake and urination, and more. It is essential to recognize and address the symptoms of kidney disease in cats in order to provide the best care.

An appropriate diet is essential for cats with kidney disease, and it will help provide much-needed nutritional support and reduce the symptoms of the disease.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the earliest and most common signs of chronic kidney disease in cats. Cats with kidney disease often lose muscle mass rather than fat and may become increasingly lethargic as the condition progresses. Anorexia (loss of appetite) is also common, so your cat may not eat enough to maintain body weight or even gain back what they lost. These changes in body composition can lead to further complications related to poor nutrition and calorie intake.

To help your pet maintain a healthy weight, consult with a veterinarian or nutritionist regarding special diets designed for cats with kidney disease. Not all cats will require a special diet but those that do should be monitored throughout the process to ensure optimal health.

Increased Thirst

Cats with kidney disease often have an increased thirst due to their kidneys not being able to properly filter and retain water in their bodies. This leads to dehydration and a need for more fluids intake. As a result, cats with kidney disease may drink more water than they used to, as well as urinating more frequently than they did before.

It is important to adjust the amount of water you give your cat accordingly so that they can stay properly hydrated. If you notice that your cat is drinking even more than usual, this could be an indication of worsening kidney health. Additionally, if your cat isn’t taking in enough fluids, it can further increase the risk of:

  • Dehydration
  • Toxicity buildup in the blood
  • Further harm done to their kidneys


Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms associated with kidney disease in cats. Vomiting can be caused by a variety of factors, but it’s important to note that this symptom is particularly pronounced in cats with kidney problems.

A combination of toxins and other digestive-related issues can contribute to excess vomiting in cats with kidney disease. Cats with diseases like chronic renal failure are compromised in their ability to maintain healthy levels of electrolytes and nutrients, meaning that vomiting can become a regular occurrence. Therefore, it’s important for cat owners to provide their pets with an appropriate diet for cats with kidney disease, which helps mitigate the risk of vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues associated with this condition.

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common health issue among cats and can cause a variety of symptoms. As soon as your cat is diagnosed with kidney disease, it is important to work with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan.

Along with medication, you should also consider changes to your cat’s diet. It is essential to properly diagnose kidney disease in order to determine the best dietary plan for your cat.

Blood Tests

A diagnosis of kidney disease in cats requires a variety of tests. One of the most important tests done is a blood test, which can be used to detect the presence of abnormalities in blood chemistries that are seen in cats with kidney disease. The most common abnormalities seen in cats with kidney disease include elevated creatinine levels, low albumin levels, and high phosphorus levels.

Other blood tests such as iron and cholesterol can also be used to check for anemia and other possible causes of the cat’s signs. Urine tests may also be done to evaluate the protein being lost from the kidneys as well as check for infection or other forms of kidney damage. A physical examination by your veterinarian is also necessary to obtain a complete picture and confirm a diagnosis.

Urine Tests

Urine tests are an important part of diagnosing and monitoring kidney disease in cats. Urine tests can detect high levels of protein, abnormal cells that may indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI), high levels of minerals that can cause bladder stones, and the presence of glucose or ketones. Urine tests help to determine the severity of kidney disease and how well medications used to treat kidney disease are working.

Urine is collected by cystocentesis, which is inserting a needle into the bladder through the abdomen, or by using a catheter to collect a small sample directly from the urethra. After collection, urine tests should be evaluated for:

  • Protein/creatinine ratio
  • Urine specific gravity
  • Blood/crystals/cells present in the urine (also known as sediment analysis)
  • Urinalysis

Testing should be done regularly while your pet is on medical therapy to ensure treatments are effective and kidney function is not deteriorating further.


An ultrasound is a noninvasive diagnostic imaging study which uses high frequency sound waves to generate an image of the structure and function of the feline’s kidney. This imaging technique is routinely used when diagnosing kidney disease in cats due to its relatively low cost, low risk and its ability to visualize the kidneys in greater detail than a physical examination.

Ultrasound imaging is especially helpful when it comes to identifying abnormalities such as cysts, stones or tumors. Depending on what type of kidney disease your cat has been diagnosed with, your vet may recommend ultrasounds on a bi-annual or annual basis in order to monitor changes over time.

Ultrasound also can be used to evaluate other organs for potential causes of kidney failure or possible complications such as:

  • An enlarged heart
  • Enlarged abdominal organs that may obstruct healthy drainage of urine from the bladder.

Treatment of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease, which is also known as renal failure, is an increasingly common medical condition among cats. It can have serious effects on your cat’s health, including changes in behavior and mobility, so it’s important to provide proper treatment. One way to do this is through diet, as the right diet can help to manage the symptoms of kidney disease. Let’s take a look at the best diet for cats with kidney disease.


When it comes to treating cats with kidney disease, diet is one of the most important aspects. Cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) should be fed a high-protein diet similar to what they would typically consume in the wild, as it can help slow the progression of the disease. Specifically, providing them with food sources that are high in meat-based proteins can provide them with important essential minerals such as phosphorus and sodium.

Additionally, providing them with a low-sodium diet is essential to managing their overall health. This means avoiding overfeeding table scraps, or processed foods that contain additional salt or sugar. It’s important to avoid veterinary diets with higher levels of phosphorus and protein as well, as these can worsen CKD symptoms.

Lastly, providing your cat with plenty of fresh water throughout the day is essential for supporting their kidney health and preventing dehydration.


The treatment of kidney disease in cats primarily involves medication, including medications that target specific causes and symptoms of the disease. Some of these medications lower phosphorus levels in the bloodstream, while others prevent calcium oxalate buildup in the kidneys. Other drugs reduce inflammation, increase urine output, and keep toxins from building up in the blood.

Additionally, when infection is present, a course of antibiotics will also be prescribed by your veterinarian to help treat the underlying cause. Lastly, if your cat has been diagnosed with anemia or is bleeding internally due to kidney disease, there are prescription medications available to help manage symptoms associated with these conditions as well:

  • Lower phosphorus levels in the bloodstream
  • Prevent calcium oxalate buildup in the kidneys
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase urine output
  • Keep toxins from building up in the blood
  • Treat underlying cause of infection (antibiotics)
  • Manage symptoms associated with anemia and internal bleeding

Fluid Therapy

Fluid therapy is an important part of treating cats with kidney disease. It is necessary to keep the kidneys hydrated in order to help flush toxins from the body. Fluid therapy involves administering fluids directly into the bloodstream, either intravenously (by IV) or subcutaneously (underneath the skin).

Fluid therapy helps cats with kidney disease by maintaining blood pressure, providing nutrition, and preventing dehydration. It also helps flush toxins from the body and keeps it functioning at optimal levels. The type and amount of fluid given depends on a cat’s individual needs as well as how far along their disease is. Fluid therapy should be monitored regularly in order to assess benefit and adjust if needed.

The Best Diet for Cats with Kidney Disease

A proper diet for cats with kidney disease is critical for maintaining their health and quality of life. Cats with kidney disease need to have their nutrient and electrolyte levels closely monitored to prevent further damage to the kidneys. With the right diet, cats with kidney disease can still have a long and healthy life.

Let’s explore the best diet for cats with kidney disease:

High-Quality Protein

High-quality proteins are an essential part of a cat’s diet, especially for cats with kidney disease. Proteins are important for maintaining muscle mass and strength, and they also provide key nutrients like amino acids. Protein can be found in many different sources including poultry, fish, red meat, tofu and eggs. For cats with kidney disease, the best protein sources are listed below:

  • Boneless, skinless white meats like chicken, turkey or rabbit
  • Canned fish such as tuna or salmon
  • Low-mercury cooked fish such as trout or cod
  • Lean beef topped with cottage cheese
  • Lean ground beef or ground turkey

It’s important to choose high-quality proteins that contain natural ingredients rather than fillers such as corn gluten meal. When selecting proteins for your cat’s diet make sure to read the ingredient list to ensure it contains only natural ingredients listed above.

Low Phosphorus Content

Low phosphorus content diets are an essential part of managing cats with kidney disease. Phosphorus is a mineral found naturally in all foods that cats eat, and it is important for normal body functions. However, excess amounts of phosphorus accumulate in the blood in cats with kidney disease, leading to further complications. Therefore, it is important to feed a diet that has low amounts of phosphorus so as to not exacerbate the disease.

Common sources of low-phosphorus foods include:

  • Fresh or frozen meats and poultry like chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef.
  • Wet cat foods also tend to be lower in phosphorus than dry food varieties.
  • Fiber-rich carbohydrates such as brown rice and oatmeal can help reduce the amount of phosphorus absorbed from other sources in the diet.
  • Vegetables can be fed as well but should be served cooked or mashed for easier swallowing and digestion by cats with advanced kidney diseases.
  • Non-meat sources of protein such as legumes and eggs can also help provide additional protein without the added phosphorus found in meat products. Non-meat choices should typically comprise no more than 15% of the overall daily diet for cats with kidney diseases.

Low Sodium Content

When a cat is diagnosed with kidney disease, it is important to feed them a diet that has low sodium content. Since the kidneys are responsible for regulating the amount of salt in the body, a high sodium diet can increase fluid retention and worsen their condition. Therefore, limiting or avoiding canned food and treats which have higher levels of sodium is important.

A diet with moderate phosphorus levels also helps reduce stress on the kidneys. Diets with smaller protein molecules (hydrolyzed protein) may help reduce the amount of work required by the kidneys to process proteins in those suffering from kidney disease.

When selecting food for cats with kidney disease it’s best to look for diets specifically designed for renal health, such as those made with limited ingredients and without added fillers like wheat gluten or corn starch.

High Water Content

Cats with kidney disease should be fed diets that are high in water content. Cats have an instinctive desire to drink a large volume of fluids and their kidneys handle large volumes of water very well. This is important because cats with kidney disease don’t have the same ability to handle waste products as healthy cats. The high-water content of the diet helps to flush out those toxins and keep the cat hydrated.

High-water foods such as canned foods and wet foods, which contain at least 75% moisture, are great for cats with kidney disease. Canned food also contains more useful nutrients than dry kibble, including calcium, vitamin A and some B vitamins, so it can help supplement a deficient diet caused by renal failure. Additionally, canned food is easier on the digestive system than dry food which can reduce the risk of diarrhea.


In conclusion, cats with kidney disease should eat a balanced diet that includes high-quality proteins, moderate amounts of carbohydrates, and low phosphorus and sodium levels. Foods should be veterinarian-approved and tailored to the specific needs of your cat. Wet food is preferred to dry kibble, as it better mimics the natural diet of cats and helps increase water intake.

Always speak with your vet about any sudden changes in diet—this is especially important for cats who have chronic kidney disease and require special dietary considerations.

FAQs about: Best Diet For Cats With Kidney Disease

Q: What diet should cats with kidney disease follow?

A: Cats with kidney disease should be fed a diet that is low in phosphorus and protein, while also providing enough calories and essential nutrients to maintain a healthy weight.

Q: Is it safe to feed my cat with kidney disease a wet or dry diet?

A: Cats with kidney disease can eat both wet and dry diets. However, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to determine which type of food is best for your cat’s specific needs.

Q: Are there any special supplements that I should give my cat with kidney disease?

A: Your veterinarian may recommend certain supplements to help support your cat’s kidney health, such as omega-3 fatty acid supplements or vitamin B supplements. It is important to discuss any supplements with your veterinarian before giving them to your cat.

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