Cats can have acute or chronic renal failure, states WebMD. Acute renal failure begins suddenly, within a few days or weeks, while chronic renal failure develops gradually over a number of years.
Ingestion of poisons, such as antifreeze, pesticides, cleaning fluids and certain human medications, is the most common cause of acute renal failure in cats, notes WebMD. Other causes include trauma, shock, kidney infection, urinary tract blockage and heart failure.
Chronic renal failure usually occurs in cats of middle age or older, and the causes are unclear, explains WebMD. The kidneys degrade due to a variety of conditions that include dental disease, kidney infections and obstructions, cancer, high blood pressure and thyroid issues.