Urinary Problems in Cats
Cats may present a variety of urinary-related issues including urinating in abnormal locations, urine-marking, producing abnormal urine or showing abnormal urine behavior.
In male cats, urinary obstruction may occur and can be deadly. Even in females, repeated infections can result in kidney failure. Prompt recognition and treatment of urinary disease is critical.
WARNING SIGNS (Call your veterinarian if any of the following occur):
- Your cat is urinating in unusual areas.
- Your cat is going to the litter box frequently.
- Your cat cries and/or strains when urinating (May appear to be constipated).
- There is blood in your cat's urine.
- Your cat is depressed, vomits or refuses to eat.
- Your cat spends a long time in the litter box and there is very little urine to be found afterwards.
- Your cat spends an unusually long time grooming his genital area.
If a cat (almost always male) develops a urinary obstruction, the sooner it is relieved, the better the outcome. A prolonged obstruction can result in rupture of the urinary bladder, kidney failure or death. Do not wait to seek help!
To prevent urinary medical problems, having your cat drink more water and exercise is ideal.
The most effective way to get a cat to drink more, if it has a good appetite, is to add water to their food. For cats that only like dry food, start out with just a Tablespoon of water mixed with a Tablespoon of food. Some cats will learn to drink the water before their food gets soggy, others will learn to like soggy food. As they get used to water in their food dish, start increasing the amount of food and water placed in it at one time. Many cats will easily consume 1/8 cup of dry food in 1/4 cup of water 4 times a day after getting used to the process.
For cats that will eat canned food, gradually add water to it until they are drinking soup.
Some cats will only drink running water. Ways of getting them to drink more include:
- Putting a bowl under a dripping faucet in a sink or tub can help.
- Always have a faucet dripping.
- Purchase a special cat drinking fountain
- Hang up a rabbit water bottle where it can drip for your cat.
Encourage your cat to exercise. Find some sort of game that it likes, and play with him. Make him work for his food by going up and down stairs or something.
Inappropriate Urination without medical cause
If analysis of the urine shows no signs of crystals, blood, bacteria or inflammation, we suspect that the spraying and urination outside of the box is behavioral in cause, not medical.
- Confine your cat to a single room with a variety of litter boxes and litters to find out what his preferences are. When he is ready to roam the house, add more litter boxes (at least some uncovered) in a different locations. (Not near food). There should be one to 2 litter boxes per cat in each household. If you would rather clean litter boxes than your house, get more litter boxes.
- Try different litters and different boxes- some cats like to perch and will stop using the box if it tips too much. Providing them with bricks around the box to perch on can make them feel more secure. Cats that like to perch can also be trained to use the toilet. Cats prefer unscented litter. You should be able to stick your nose next to it and breath in comfortably without having to cough or sneeze to clear your airways.
- Clean and deodorize soiled areas meticulously. Try to limit your animal's access to these areas. Sometimes
putting food dishes near-by helps. Enzymatic cleansers and steam cleaners are best for cleaning. The best known
bacterial enzyme cleanser for urine is:
Anti-Icky-Poo from Bug-a-Boo Chemicals
1-800-745-1671 (Cornell Conf 2002)
- See if you can keep stray cats away from near your house (secure garbage).
- Consider using Feliway (synthetic pheromone) to convert from spraying to face marking. We can order this product.
- The behavior may be anxiety-related. We can prescribe anti-anxiety drugs to try if the above doesn't work.
Chronic Kidney Failure
This occurs when kidney function has deteriorated to the extent that they fail to excrete wastes, maintain water and electrolyte balance and produce hormones. Chronic renal failure has usually been present for months before being diagnosed and is irreversible. Usually at least 75% of the kidney capacity has been lost. The cause of the failure is often never determined.
Typical signs of kidney failure are excessive drinking and urination because the kidneys cannot concentrate urine. Weight loss, poor appetite and poor haircoat are common. With advanced disease, the breath becomes foul, appetite may be totally lost and there may be vomiting, weakness, lethargy, mouth or stomach ulcers and anemia. Some animals develop high blood pressure and can develop sudden blindness.
Kidney failure is usually confirmed by blood and urine analysis. Other diseases that may contribute to or complicate kidney failure include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, urinary infections and hyperadrenocorticism. X-rays and ultrasound can help evaluate other potential problems.
Although not curable, many dogs and cats with kidney failure can be treated with special diets and subcutaneous fluid injections that can be done at home. Thus maintained, some animals with kidney failure can have decent quality life for years.
Some animals with kidney failure may pass peacefully into a coma and die seemingly painlessly. Others may have seizures or distressing vomiting and may be more humanely served via euthanasia.