Fruit Valley Veterinary Clinic

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):

  1. Your cat is urinating in unusual areas.
  2. Your cat is going to the litter box frequently.
  3. Your cat cries and/or strains when urinating (May appear to be constipated).
  4. There is blood in your cat's urine.
  5. Your cat is depressed, vomits or refuses to eat.
  6. Your cat spends a long time in the litter box and there is very little urine to be found afterwards.
  7. 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:

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.

Suggestions are:

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.