Urine problems in cats

black cat on white background

Overview

Is your cat having a problem urinating? Going more often than usual, only passing drips, crying, straining, peeing outside the litter tray, peeing in strange places, spraying in the house, does their urine have a pink or red tinge?

There are many different medical conditions that can cause cats to have trouble urinating but issues such as stress are also very common.

It’s important to contact your vet if you notice your cat having problems peeing. Leaving a problem for too long can lead to serious illness or even death (for example if a blocked bladder develops).

WARNING

Is your cat is trying to pee but not passing anything? This could be a blocked bladder which is an emergency.

Never wait to see if this improves, call your vet and have your cat seen ASAP.

Not sure if your cat has a urine problem?

It can be difficult to notice if your cat has a problem peeing – they are very private animals and many will only toilet outdoors. If you see the following, it may be a sign your cat has a problem:

  • A swollen tummy which is usually very tender –EMERGENCY: contact your vet straight away
  • Visiting the litter tray very regularly
  • Going outside more than usual
  • Peeing in strange places e.g. the bath, sink, bath matt or hard floors
  • Hiding away or being quieter than usual
  • Drinking more
  • Smell of urine
  • Eating less
  • Excessive cleaning around their private parts
  • A wet patch or blood around their private parts.
Illustration showing urinary tract in cats

Urinary tract in cats. Kidneys: produce urine. Ureters: move urine from kidneys to bladder. Bladder: stores urine. Urethra: expels urine

When to contact your vet

WARNING

Is your cat is trying to pee but not passing anything? This could be a blocked bladder which is an emergency.

Never wait to see if this improves, call your vet and have your cat seen ASAP.

Contact your vet without delay if you think your cat is having problems peeing. If possible, take a urine sample along to the appointment.

You know your cat best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Causes

If your cat is having problems peeing it is usually a sign of a problem somewhere in the bladder, kidneys or in the pipes that carry urine (urethra and ureter).

There are many medical conditions that cause problems peeing but behavioural issues (such as stress) also play an important role. It’s very important to take stress in cats seriously – it can have very a very negative impact on their health.

Common conditions include:

FIC

FIC (Feline Idiopathic Cystitis) is a painful condition that causes inflammation in the bladder and often other parts of the waterworks. This condition is thought to be made a lot worse by stress.

Bladder stones

Bladder stones cause pain and inflammation. They can cause bladder infections and in more serious cases they can cause a blocked bladder which stops a cat being able to pee.

Blocked bladder

A blocked bladder is a very serious condition that stops a cat peeing, it can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly.

Infections

Bladder infections (UTI) are often brought on by something else for example bladder stones or stress cystitis.

Tumours

Bladder tumours are rare but can bleed, irritate or block the bladder.

Published: October 2018

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Written by vets and vet nurses

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst