Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease Everything you need to know about this inherited kidney condition

Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease Photo by Inge Wallumrรธd: https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-tabby-cat-lying-on-white-surface-177809/

Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a hereditary illness that affects the kidneys of cats. Learn more about it.

Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a hereditary illness affecting cats' kidneys. The development of many cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, in the kidneys is what distinguishes it. These cysts can damage the kidneys as they develop and ultimately result in renal failure. PKD is a degenerative condition for which there is presently no treatment.

An overview of PKD, including its causes, signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatments, will be given in this article.


Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is caused by a genetic mutation. The specific causes of PKD are:

  • Autosomal dominant inheritance: A cat only has to inherit one copy of the defective gene from one parent to develop PKD because it is inherited in an autosomal dominant form.

  • Mutation in the polycystin-2 gene: PKD is caused by a mutation in the polycystin-2 gene, which is responsible for the formation and function of renal tubules, the part of the kidney responsible for filtering blood and producing urine.

  • Genetic predisposition: Some breeds, such as Persians, Himalayans, and Exotic Shorthairs, are predisposed to PKD due to a higher frequency of genetic mutation in the breed.

It is crucial to understand that environmental variables like nutrition, chemicals, or illnesses do not contribute to PKD.

Clinical Diagnosis

Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) can be diagnosed through a combination of clinical signs, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. The following are some of the methods used to diagnose PKD in cats:

  • Physical examination: A veterinarian will perform a physical examination, including a thorough evaluation of the cat's kidneys and urinary system.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can assist in identifying whether the cat has anemia, high blood pressure, or other symptoms of renal illness. These tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and a blood chemistry panel.

  • Urinalysis: A urinalysis can help to detect any abnormalities in the urine, such as protein or red blood cells, that may indicate kidney disease.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is an imaging test that can be used to detect cysts in the kidneys and to evaluate their size and number.

  • Genetic testing: Genetic testing can confirm the presence of the PKD mutation in cats, especially in breeds predisposed to the disease.

  • Biopsy: A kidney biopsy, although not commonly performed, can also be used to diagnose PKD by identifying the presence of cysts in the kidneys.

It is important to note that clinical diagnosis of PKD should be confirmed by at least one of the diagnostic tests mentioned above.


Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a progressive disease, and symptoms may not appear until the later stages of the disease. Common signs of PKD include the following:

  • Increased drinking and urination: As the cysts in the kidneys grow, they can cause damage to the kidneys, which can lead to increased thirst and urination.

  • Weight loss: Cats with PKD may experience weight loss due to decreased appetite and poor nutrient absorption.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea: PKD can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, as the toxins that are normally removed by the kidneys begin to build up in the blood.

  • Lethargy and weakness: Cats with PKD may become less active and weak as the disease progresses.

  • Anemia: PKD can cause anemia (low red blood cell count) due to decreased production of erythropoietin by the diseased kidneys.

  • High blood pressure: PKD can also result in hypertension or high blood pressure.

It is important to note that some cats with PKD may not show any symptoms until the disease is advanced, and regular check-ups and diagnostic tests are important for early detection and management of the disease.

Treatment Options

Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a progressive and irreversible disease, and currently, there is no cure. However, proper management and treatment can help to slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for cats with PKD. The following are some of the treatment options for PKD in cats:

It is important to consult with a veterinarian experienced in feline kidney disease to develop an appropriate treatment plan for cats with PKD.

Was this article helpful?

You May Also Like

Image for Kidney Enlargement (Renomegaly) in Cats
Kidney Enlargement (Renomegaly) in Cats

Understanding Renomegaly In Cats

Read More
Image for Top 4 Hillโ€™s Cat Foods for Urinary and Kidney Care in 2024
Top 4 Hillโ€™s Cat Foods for Urinary and Kidney Care in 2024

Can food address urinary and kidney issues in cats? Explore these products that actually work!

Read More