How to Identify and Treat a Cat Urinary Proble

"A cat urinary problem or changes in the way your cat urinates almost always indicates some type of medical problem. The term FLUTD or feline lower urinary tract disease is a term that refers to a number of conditions that affect the urinary tract and urethra such as cystitis, urolithiasis (urinary stones) , urethral obstruction (blockage), urethral plugs or cancer. Male cats in particular should be seen by a veterinarian to ensure that there is nothing blocking the urine from leaving the body. In females and males urinary problems can be a sign of infection or even a behavioral issue. A chronic obstruction can result in death, so any sign of urinary distress should trigger a trip to the veterinarian, particularly if a cat appears to be crying out in pain, or if you see other signs such as a cat that is passing no or a small amount of urine."

A cat urinary problem can be caused by many things. Most common is a urinary tract infection. Bladder stones can also cause problems. Less common are tumors and anatomical abnormalities of the urinary tract. If caught early, most urinary problems are easily treated and not too serious. If untreated, however, they can become serious. Take your cat to the vet if she shows symptoms of a cat urinary problem.

Symptoms of a Cat Urinary Problem

Symptoms of a cat urinary problem may include:

The symptom that gets the most attention is when a litter trained cat begins to urinate in the house. Owners often assume the cat is doing this on purpose or that it is a behavioral problem, and want to punish the cat for doing it. But it’s often a medical problem. Take your cat to the vet to rule out any health problems first. If your cat gets a clean bill of health, then talk to your vet about how best to deal with the behavior.

Symptoms and Common Causes
Feline Urinary Problems

Symptom of Cat Urinary Problem

Possible Cause and Action

Your cat strains to urinate or urinates in small amounts. Urine may contain blood and your cat may be vomiting.

Urinary Tract Infection or there is something blocking the urinary tract such as a bladder stone. If your cat is acting normally (behavior, appetite) then see a veterinarian. If male cat and behavior is not normal then seek emergency care to check for blockage.

Urine that has some blood in it

Injury to the bladder. See veterinarian.

Cat leaking urine, particularly when lying down

Incontinence problem. See veterinarian and test for FeLV (feline leukemia virus) and endocrine (thyroid) problems.

Urine spray and urination outside of the litter box

Behavioral problem. See our guide to changing behavior.

Frequent Urination

In older cats it could be a sign of kidney disease or hypothyroidism

Cat Urine dark yellow color

See veterinarian who will check for liver disease. Usually accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness, weight loss, desire not to eat.

Diagnosing a Cat Urinary Problem

To diagnose a cat urinary problem, your vet will need to perform a urinalysis. This is a test that checks for the presence of blood, protein, sugar, and other substances in the urine. The urine can also be cultured to see if there is bacteria growing in it. The culture takes a couple of days, so your vet may go ahead and prescribe antibiotics for your cat without waiting for the results if he or she thinks your cat has a urinary tract infection.

The vet may also take x-rays of your cat to check for bladder stones. An ultrasound could also be used for this purpose. These tests would also show any tumors or anatomical abnormalities, if present.

Treating a Cat Urinary Problem

Treating a cat urinary problem is often as easy as prescribing a short course of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. After a couple of weeks, the urine should be tested again to make sure the infection is all cleared up. In stubborn cases, antibiotics may need to be used for longer periods of time.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC): Idiopathic refers to no known cause. It is suspected that potential causes may include a change in a cats environment, a change in eating schedule or diet, or the addition of more pets. Once the stress on the cat is eliminated or reduced, such as providing a safe area to urinate, or the addition of a climbing post or toys to allow the cat to express predatory behaviors, results in improvement. Changes in diet to a urinary formulation do not appear to have any affect.

Feline Urolithiasis (Stones): A stone is formed when minerals start to block the feline urinary tract. Treatment depends on the type of stones; such as surgery to remove calcium oxalate stones or dietary change to dissolve the stones as in the case of struvite stones. After treatment, dietary modification can help avoid future problems.

Feline Urethral Obstruction: This is the most worrisome cat urinary problem and refers to either complete or partial blockage. A differentiating symptom is a cat that seems to cry out in pain. This can be caused by urinary stones or urethral plugs, which are made of a soft substance that contains mucus/protein, minerals and cell material. Male cats are at greater risk due to the narrower urethra. The blockage makes it difficult for the body to remove toxins, resulting in a cat eventually losing consciousness. The problem can ultimately cause death from heart failure.

How to Prevent a Cat Urinary Problem

If your cat frequently suffers from feline urinary tract infections you might want to consider adding a natural remedy to the diet that promotes balance in the bladder and urinary tract. One product made specifically for this purpose is PetAlive UTI-Free Formula. It is made specifically for this problem and contains ingredients such as:

  • Arctostaphylos uva ursi helps to maintain normal pH levels in the urinary tract. (Larsson B, Jonasson A, Fianu S. “Prophylactic effect of UVA-E in women with recurrent cystitis: a preliminary report.” Current Therapeutic Research 1993;53(4):441-443. ) This herb contains the glycoside arbutin as the main active constituent.
  • Berberis vulgaris contains berberine as a main constituent, known for its restorative effect on the bladder and urinary tract. (Li SY, Ling LH, Teh BS, et al. “Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties of the bis- benzylisoquinolines: in vitro comparisons of tetrandrine and berbamine.” Int J Immunopharmacol 1989;11(4):395-401.)

If bladder stones are present, they can sometimes be broken up with medication, but often must be surgically removed. If your cat is prone to forming stones, your vet may recommend a special diet that will help prevent them.

If your cat has a tumor, your vet will talk to you about the best way to treat it. It will depend on the type, size, and location of the tumor.

Anatomical abnormalities may be able to be corrected surgically. It will depend on the exact nature of the problem.

feline urinary infection
Feline Urinary Infection usually refers to a cat bladder infection or an infection that is able to take hold due to diet related crystal formation in the urine
Source: Maristavet

There are several steps an owner can take to help cats prevent a cat urinary problem including:


The Veterinarian's Guide to Your Cat's Symptoms

Non-Prostatic Dysuria
Holt, P. E.

Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine



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