Acute renal failure in a cat

A 12-month-old male DSH cat was diagnosed with acute renal failure and subsequently died despite intensive symptomatic treatment. Sections of kidney were collected at post-mortem examination for histopathology. Gross findings consisted of bilateral renomegaly in the absence of any nodular infiltrate.

Fig 1. The proximal renal tubules frequently contain semi-transparent, refractile crystals associated with renal tubular epithelial attenuation and/or loss.

Final Diagnosis

Acute renal tubular degeneration associated with intratubular crystals


The morphology of the crystals is typical for calcium oxalate. The most common cause for these findings in a cat is ethylene glycol (EG) toxicity. EG is most commonly found in antifreeze products and cats are particularly sensitive to intoxication. Although rare, a differential to consider in a young cat such as this is primary hyperoxaluria (a genetic disorder of oxalate metabolism).