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Published: Jun 07, 2012

Hypokalemia, or low potassium, is frequently seen in sick cats and is usually the result of an underlying medical condition.  Hypokalemia in cats can become very dangerous if potassium drops to very low levels, and can even threaten the life of the affected feline.

Extremely low levels of potassium are often associated with kidney disease in cats. Hypokalemia causes general lethargy and muscle weakness.  For example, the cat's muscles may become so weak it can barely lift its head or it may keep its head and neck curled downward at an awkward angle, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Depression, lack of appetite and a poor coat quality may follow.

Rather than a disease itself, hypokalemia is the result of another problem in the animal. This is why it's important the owner takes the cat to a veterinarian if they notice the clinical signs of hypokalemia. The vet is also the best place to get the cat's potassium levels back up to normal.  This may be done by providing potassium intravenously if the cat's life is in danger. The vet may also prescribe a dietary supplement that can be giving orally if the cause is ongoing. Owners should be careful not to simply feed the cat human food, like a banana, to get its potassium back up. It's best to talk with a vet and get a supplement approved for feline consumption.