Cat’s health – Urinary issues

Cats are very clean animals and if they’ve been using their litter box and then suddenly have an accident it can be very upsetting for the both of you. The reasons behind why your cat is going outside the litter box can vary and may take some time to figure out the root cause (and sometimes there is more than one reason why). Cats can have both physical and behavior reasons. Last week’s blog discussed the behavioral reasons to house-soiling. This week I will be discussing the medical reasons.


If your cat is having urinary issues, you need to bring your cat into the vet hospital to have a thorough physical exam. Most times, the exam will include a urinalysis and occasionally blood-work. Depending on what the veterinarian is suspecting, they may recommend X-rays and/or an ultrasound.


Medical problems such as infections, cystitis, arthritis, bladder problems, kidney problems, and diabetes can explain why your cat is urinating outside of the box. These problems won’t just go away and cause undo suffering if you just ignore them. Below are just a few conditions that could explain inappropriate urination.


Urinary Tract Infections (U.T.I.) and Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (F.I.C.) – If you’ve ever had a U.T.I., you know how painful these can be. You wouldn’t wait to go to the doctor for treatment, so make sure you stay diligent if your cat is showing signs of: inappropriate urination, crying out, small amounts of urine produced, straining to go, and blood in the urine. All of these can be signs of a U.T.I. or something more serious. Many cats suffer from Feline Idiopathic Cystitis. This inflammatory condition can increase and decrease in severity over time. F.I.C. is aggravated by stress that can be triggered by changes in diet, environment, etc.


Bladder and Kidney stones – Minerals can form inside these organs and can be extremely painful.


Both F.I.C. and stones can cause blockages won’t allow urine to be expelled from the body creating a medical emergency. If you notice your pet has urinated less than a teaspoon of urine at one time or has not produced any urine at all, your pet that  must be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Bladder tumors – Bladder tumors are not common but could affect a senior cat that is straining or having bloody urine.


Arthritis – Cats over the age of 7 years and/or obese cats suffer from arthritis which can make it painful to step in and out of the litter box. Also, the arthritis pain may make them unwilling to walk very far to relieve themselves. Providing a low sided box and ones close to where they spend most of their time can help them. Mountain View Veterinary Services can evaluate their arthritis status and prescribe joint supplements and pain medication. For obese cats, we can provide guidance for a safe weight loss program.


Diabetes & other conditions that lead to excessive water consumption – Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and a few other diseases can make your cat thirsty and, with an increase in water, means increased trips to the litter box. These diseases can be deadly if left untreated. A blood panel will evaluate how your cats organs are working.


If your cat has been diagnosed with an illness, there will be a few things that will need to change. Two biggies are diet and water intake. Some of the medical conditions listed in this blog may require a diet change – especially to a prescription diet. It is important to understand that if your cat is put on a prescription diet, it will need to stay on this specialized diet. Keeping us (your veterinary team) informed about how your cat is doing and whether they like their food is very important. There are other brands we can recommend if your cat doesn’t like the first diet we tried. Most of the prescription diets offer a refund if your cat doesn’t like the food. Diet changes could also include, or just be limited to, going to scheduled feeding times. Scheduled feedings have many benefits like weight control (some cats will eat because they are bored), enticing them to eat, and knowing how much they are eating. Except the conditions that increase water intake – it is important that they are drinking enough water. Many of these conditions will worsen if your cat isn’t drinking water. By drinking an appropriate amount of water it creates several benefits. Water will dilute the urine and reduces the concentration of stone-forming minerals in the urine. Because your pet is urinating more often, it reduces the time available for stones to form. There are some tricks to get more water into your cat:

  • A majority of cats like to drink moving water. There are many different types and styles of pet drinking fountains. Some have water bubbling over a surface and others have water flowing out from a spout. If you try one type of fountain but your cat doesn’t seem interested, try the other type. Just like everything else in a cat’s life, they can be picky about how the water is coming out of the fountain.
  • Another option for moving water is to have a faucet on a slow drip and a small bowl underneath it.
  • Try different types of water bowls and place them throughout the home. Remember to supply fresh water in them every day.
  • Canned food has more moisture in it then dry food does. A majority of prescription diets have dry and canned versions.
  • If canned food isn’t acceptable to your lifestyle, add water to their dry food.
  • Try adding an ice cube into their food or water bowl.
  • You could add a small amount of a flavoring agent to their water. Tuna juice, low-sodium chicken broth and a few other items could entice them to drink more water. These could also be made into ice cubes as well.
  • Offer distilled or bottled water instead of tap water.

By working with our veterinary team, we can help figure out why your cat is having litter box issues and work to solve them.


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