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C2003-46

Dear Christopher Cat

Cleopatra, our five-year-old cat, has always seemed healthy, but we are concerned that she urinates only once or twice a day. Does that mean she has bad kidneys?

Christopher Responds

Quite the opposite. It sounds like her kidneys are working very efficiently to conserve water. Let me explain.

The world’s domestic cats are descended from North African desert cats. Their desert ancestry has endowed today’s cats with kidneys that concentrate urine exceptionally well.

Urine concentration is measured as specific gravity. Water has a specific gravity of 1.000, while urine that is neither diluted nor concentrated by the kidneys has a specific gravity of 1.010.

The kidneys remove the wastes and “extra” water, and conserve necessary water and other nutrients. Human kidneys conserve water and concentrate urine to a specific gravity of about 1.020.

Dog kidneys concentrate urine to a specific gravity of 1.040. But we cats – superior to dogs in every way – concentrate our urine to a specific gravity of 1.060.
It sounds like Cleopatra’s kidneys are working well, but if you notice a change, call your veterinarian.

Increased frequency of urination can signal a bladder infection, while increased drinking and volume of urination may indicate diabetes or kidney impairment.

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