I have older cat that is suffering from chronic renal failure. He is refusing to eat and growing thin and weak. Will he just starve to death? Is that the way a cat with this illness dies?

UPDATE July of 2020

This development was the beginning of the end. His condition deteriorated rapidly and the end was not far off. He died in my arms.

Several months previously I had a tissue culture preserved from his stomach and from the cells in this culture, a clone was made, so he lives now with me as a clone.

  • 1
    only your vet will know for sure if there is something you can do so take the cat to your vet as soon as possible,a vet do not wish to put down an animal if there still is some options left. Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 7:00
  • Take her to the vet now. My cat had chronic renal failure, was very small because of it. Lived to 15+ after diagnosis and a drastic diet change. Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 14:28
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    Can I ask where you were able to get the tissue culture and cloning?
    – Anna K
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 9:47

2 Answers 2


If your cat is not eating because of his chronic kidney disease:

  • He feels nauseous due to the azotemia (buildup of uremic toxins in the blood).
  • He is unlikely to get better without aggressive fluid therapy.
  • Monitor the urine output (anuric renal failure, that is failure to produce any urine, is not a sign that cat owners commonly observe, but is indicative that the kidneys are not functioning).
  • With appropriate therapy your vet may be able to slow down, or at least partially reverse the progression. The underlying damage to the kidneys is likely irreversible, but the azotemia may not be. The goal of fluid therapy is to flush out the uremic toxins.
  • When cats do not eat, it can be very serious. When not receiving nutrition, they begin to mobilize fats which deposit in the liver, causing hepatic lipidosis. You may notice icterus (jaundice or yellow skin) at this stage, and it makes treatment of the underlying cause more challenging.
  • It is unlikely your cat will just peacefully pass away due to kidney disease. It will likely be a long and drawn out period of weight loss, anorexia, and dehydration, which is why humane euthanasia is a reasonable option in those cases that are not responding to therapy.

There are a number of other conditions ranging from hypertension to hyperthyroidism that are commonly also see in chronic kidney cats. Without your vet performing at minimum a biochemistry panel to evaluate the kidney values (BUN and creatinine) there is no way to predict the cause or severity of your cat's illness.

As others have stated, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.


Refusing to eat may be the way an animal with a serious illnes dies, especially when it already has the diagnosis chronic renal failure. But you can't be sure. It is possible that another (little) illness like an inflammation in his mouth makes him feeling uncomfortable to eat. Then it is possible that this second illness can be cured very easily and your cat can have some more happy weeks/month/years even with the chronic renal failure.

The only chance to know whether your cat is refusing to eat because of the chronical renal failure or if the reason is another minor illness is to go to your vet.

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