So You Can Keep Your Cat Healthy!

Learn the Signs of the Common Kidney Disease. So You Can Keep Your Cat Healthy!

Kidney disease is one of the leading killers of cats.
Although the average lifespan of cats is increasing, cases of progressive chronic kidney disease are also increasing. It’s important to pay attention to your cat’s usual appetite and activities so you do not miss the subtle signs of kidney disease. Check the following information about kidney disease and how to help your cat live a long life.

The Average Lifespan of Cats and Converting Cat Years to Human Years

In 2015, the average lifespan was 15.75 years.

Cats age much faster than humans - an 11-year-old cat is like a 60-year-old human. It's said that cats trade their higher heart rate for a shorter lifespan, as the heart rate of cats is higher than that of humans. Thus, it's important to know your cat’s age so that you can take care of their health. The following chart is an approximation of your cat's age in human years.

Cat Years to Human Years Conversion Chart

1 Month1-Year-Old
2 Months3-Years-Old
3 Months5-Years-Old
6 Months9-Years-Old
9 Months13-Years-Old
1 Year17-Years-Old
2 Years24-Years-Old
3 Years28-Years-Old
4 Years32-Years-Old
5 Years36-Years-Old
6 Years40-Years-Old
7 Years44-Years-Old
8 Years48-Years-Old
9 Years52-Years-Old
10 Years56-Years-Old
11 Years60-Years-Old
12 Years64-Years-Old
13 Years68-Years-Old
14 Years72-Years-Old
15 Years76-Years-Old
16 Years80-Years-Old
17 Years84-Years-Old
18 Years88-Years-Old
19 Years92-Years-Old
20 Years96-Years-Old

List of Diseases Common in Cats
Where Does Kidney Disease Fall?

It's important to observe your cat's appearance, appetite, water intake, quality and frequency of urination and bowel movements regularly in order to catch diseases early or prevent them. When you first start raising your cat, please take it to a veterinarian so they can check your cat’s age, the environment it has been raised in and its overall health.

  • 1. Cancer(35%)Just like humans, the risk of cancer increases as cats get older. The reason for this is not only genetics and environment, but also hormones and viruses. Tumors are usually noticed if you pet your cat regularly ? you should notice skin irregularities or stomach tumors by touch. Also, if you notice visible skin irregularities that look like scabs on your cat’s face or elsewhere, this may be a tumor. If it does not seem to be healing properly, please see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • 2. Kidney Disease(25%)The leading killer of cats is kidney disease. It's said that cats easily develop kidney disease. If the amount of your cat's urination or water intake has increased, that may be a sign of kidney disease or many other diseases, so please take it to an animal hospital. Kidney damage is irreversible, so it's important to catch the warning signs early.
  • 3. Heart Disease(10%)The type of heart disease cats commonly develop is cardiomyopathy (a.k.a. heart muscle disease). There are cases where the cat suddenly gets worse and dies after this condition takes effect. There are cases where there are no symptoms, so you must take your cat to an animal hospital for an ultrasound examination to catch the disease early.

Let’s Check Your Cat at Home

Even if you see a veterinarian, your cat may have been so nervous that it couldn't receive a thorough examination. If you notice any changes in your cat's condition, try checking for the following signs yourself.

Body Part What to Check for Possible Disease(s)
Face Cloudy eyes Cataracts
Light reflecting off of its eyes (its eyes are “sparkling”) Hyperthyroidism
Its eyes have sunken in Dehydration
The condition of the skin around the ears, nose and mouth has deteriorated Skin disease or a tumor
Bad breath Periodontitis, kidney disease etc.
Color of the Mucous Membrane The whites of the eyes, the color of the gums Anemia or jaundice
Fur Stiff Fur Poor nutrition or lack of self-grooming
Back Cannot perceive being touched on the back Obese or overweight
Stiff spine Underweight
Pain Spinal Disease
Abdomen Muscle stiffness Abdominal cavity tumor, mammary tumor
Paws Long claws, pain when touched Arthritis

What Kind of Disease is Kidney Disease?

Functions of the Kidney ・Evacuation of waste
・Regulation of water and minerals in the body
・Blood pressure regulation
・Hormone secretion
What Will Happen if Kidney Disease Develops ・Failure to evacuate waste, which will lead to uremia
・The concentration of phosphorus will increase and the kidney will be damaged
・The hormones that regulate blood pressure will increase and high blood pressure will develop.
Structure of the Kidney As seen in figure1, there are around 200,000 nephron structures that make up the glomerulus and renal tubules of one kidney.
Blood brought from the body to the kidneys are filtered through the glomerulus, and then water and necessary nutrients are reabsorbed by the renal tubules.
What is Kidney Disease? Kidney disease is when the kidney cannot perform its essential functions. Feelings of listlessness and nauseousness and symptoms of uremia and high blood pressure occur. In cats, when damage occurs in the renal tubules, water cannot be reabsorbed so the concentration of the urine changes. The color is lighter and the amount increases as well. Water intake increases because excessive urination happens, so even though your cat is drinking a lot of water, dehydration occurs. Usually, around 20-30% of the nephrons are functioning at a time. Only when 70% of the nephrons are not functioning is when symptoms appear. This is why it is difficult to detect kidney disease.
Relationship between Kidney Disease and Aging Relationship between Kidney Disease and AgingKidney disease is common in older cats, especially after age 7. A 7-year-old-cat is equivalent to a human in their mid-40s. After your cat turns 7, please schedule regular urine and blood tests.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease Increased urination / Increased water intake / Vomiting / Anemia / Dehydration / High blood pressure
【The Relationship between Cats and Kidney Disease】 Cats are originally from the desert, so they couldn't drink water often. Thus, cat's kidneys are good at reabsorbing water. Another way of looking at it is that cat's kidneys have to bear a huge burden. Because cats that die from infectious diseases have decreased and indoor cats have increased, the average lifespan of cats has also increased. However, cases of cancer and kidney disease have increased as well.

Kidney Health Tip #1
Healthy Eating and Check-Ups are Important for Kidney Disease Prevention

Healthy Eating

It is said that cat’s kidneys are easily burdened, so they should drink more water to ease that burden. Cats that are given dry food (which has comparably low water content) will drink more water than those given wet food. However, the overall water intake of cats who are given wet food is higher because the water content of the food supplements the drinking water. For healthy kidneys, it is recommended that you give your cat wet food.

It's also important to give cats food that is low in phosphorus and sodium. It is difficult to excrete phosphorus from the kidneys if kidney functions deteriorate. Phosphorus will damage the kidneys, thus worsening kidney disease. Furthermore, if kidney functions deteriorate it's difficult to regulate water and sodium, so blood pressure rises easily which in turn causes the burden on the kidneys to rise.

Blood Test

If kidney functions deteriorate, it will be hard for your cat to expel toxins and other waste. If there is a problem, the values explained below will be high.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) The byproduct of protein after they are used as energy, nitrogen is a toxin that is difficult to excrete if kidney function has deteriorated. A high number on a BUN test means that your cat may be suffering from nausea or poor appetite.
Creatinine (Cre) The standard value of Creatinine, a byproduct that is produced when muscles move, depends on the muscles in your cat's body. Creatinine can be used as an index of kidney health.
Phosphorus (P) Although it is indispensable for the body, phosphorus levels rise when kidney functions deteriorate.

Urine Test

Check cat’s urine for the presence of materials that are not usually found in urine. Urine tests can be faster than blood tests at detecting irregularities, so please have your cat take a urine test during its physical.

Relative Weight This number represents the density of urine. If the number is low, it means that the enrichment capability of the kidney has fallen. It's best to measure the morning urine, which has the highest relative weight.
Urine Protein As kidney functions fail, protein also escapes through urine (although a small amount of protein is normally detected).
Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio (UPC) Measuring the ratio of creatinine to urine protein is a way to test kidney functions.

Echo Test

This test is used to confirm that the size and makeup of the kidneys are not irregular.

Kidney Health Tip #2
Take a Urine Sample at Home and Bring it to the Animal Hospital

The most accurate urine test is done via paracentesis vesicae (taking a sample directly from the bladder) done at the animal hospital. However, we have some tips on collecting a urine sample at your home.

Collect Urine in a Tray

Quickly put a tray under your cat's bottom when it is about to urinate. Do not force it if your cat becomes irritable.

Decrease the amount of litter in the litter box.

Dramatically decrease the amount of litter and collect the urine in a syringe before it is absorbed.
For litter boxes that have two levels, decrease the amount of litter in the top tray and take the absorbent pad out of the second one. Collect a sample from the urine accumulated in the tray.

If your cat urinates on an absorbent pad

Turn the absorbent pad upside down so it will urinate on the vinyl side.

★Take the sample the same day you go to the animal hospital. If you will be going to the hospital a few hours after you take the sample, store it in the refrigerator.
★It's best to have a sample that is over 10cc. If you are only able to take a small sample, please check if the animal hospital is able to use it.

Kidney Health Tip #3
How to Give the Appropriate Amount of Water to Your Cat

Each day, your cat should intake the following amount of water:


This includes the amount of water found in food, for a total of one day's worth of drinking water.

The Appropriate Amount of Drinking Water

If your cat eats dry food90 - 170ml/day
If your cat eats wet food5 - 85ml/day

If your cat's main food is dry food and they drink over 200ml, or if it is wet food and they drink over 100ml, they are drinking too much water and may have kidney disease.

There is a big difference in the amount of water your cat drinks depending on your cat's diet of either wet food or dry food. There are also differences depending on the season, temperature and your cat's body type. It's important to pay attention to your cat's daily routine before they get sick.

How to Measure the Amount Drunk

By putting water out at the same time every day, you will be able to see how much water your cat drinks each day. If your cat drinks over 200cc, they may have kidney disease or another disease, so please take it to an animal hospital for further testing.

The Best Water to Give Cats

Cats should drink fresh water. Mineral water and water with calcium ion or magnesium ion are not good for cats, as they may develop urinary stones. Water from a clean water source is best.

Kidney Health Tip #4
What to Do if Your Cat Contracts Kidney Disease

If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease, switch to medicinal food and give them medicine to prevent the disease from spreading. Although medicinal food is easier to eat than it used to be, if it doesn't suit your cat's tastes then they may get tired of it and refuse to eat it at times. If that happens, then you should look for alternative food that supports healthy kidney functions. We especially recommend wet food with a high water content.

Kidney Health Tip #5
Ways to Give Your Cat Wet Food

  • Mix it with Medicine

    There are times when your cat will not eat all its food. In this case, before giving your cat its regular food, mix the medicine with a small amount of canned food or food paste and make sure that they eat it. For cats that do not like medicine, there are also pastes with medicine mixed in that can be rubbed on your cat's gums.
  • Putting it in or mixing it with medicinal food

    If your cat won't eat medicinal food or gets tired of it, try mixing it with wet food before giving it to your cat.
  • Put it Next to Medicinal Food

    There are cats that hate it when dry and wet food are mixed together. If you put both on the same plate beside one another, they may eat the usual food that they are tired of with the wet food.