The first sign of chronic kidney failure in cats is often frequent urination, coupled with an excessive need to drink water, says WebMD. The first signs of acute kidney failure in cats are refusal to eat, vomiting, listlessness and sometimes seizures, says VCA Animal Hospitals. Cats with acute kidney failure may collapse and be in shock upon arrival at the hospital.
Chronic kidney failure is much more common in cats, and is a condition that progresses gradually. As the disease worsens, the cat will show symptoms such as apathy, loss of appetite, loss of weight and a poor coat. The cat's urine output will start to decrease as the disease progresses. The cat may develop a foul odor to its breath and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. If untreated, the cat will eventually lapse into a coma and die, says WebMD.
Chronic kidney failure has a slow onset. Most extremely old cats show some degree of kidney failure, reports WebMD. Cases of earlier onset may be caused by exposure to toxins, infections, hyperthyroidism or a genetic predisposition.
Acute kidney failure can be caused by poisoning, trauma or as a consequence of a different health condition, says WebMD. Acute kidney failure is a medical emergency.