Urinary problems

Cat urinary problems : symptoms and treatments

Does your cat have a hard time urinating, or they go outside of the litter box? They could be suffering from lower urinary tract disease… How do you see this painful condition and what can the veterinarian do about it?


Your feline companion can show you that they have a urinary tract condition in various ways. For example, your cat may spend an increasing amount of time in the litter box but only produce a few drops of urine. If so, you have a good reason to be worried. This is an obvious sign that requires a visit to the vet. If your cat is trying to urinate without results, it is an emergency. Make sure that you don’t confuse being unable to urinate with constipation.

Also, your cat may urinate outside of its litter box, or in unusual places. Before assuming that your cat has behavioural problems, we have to make sure it is not a medical condition. Some owners wrongfully accuse their cat of being vengeful. However, that is not always the case. Your cat may be anxious, in pain, or giving you a sign of discomfort toward their litter.

You may also see blood in your cat’s urine or notice that they howl in discomfort while urinating. Pay attention!

Possible Diagnosis

What is your cat suffering from? It may be hard to tell the exact cause of urinary tract conditions. We will issue a diagnosis of idiopathic cystitis, which means a bladder inflammation that can be caused by multiple factors. Sometimes there are stones in the bladder that irritate the bladder wall and cause pain, bleeding, inflammation, and can even block the urinary tract completely.

Your cat’s bladder can also develop urinary crystals, a little bit like sand floating in the urine. Like with the stones, crystals can cause inflammation, pain, and partial or complete urinary blockage.

Urinary infection, bladder mass, and many other causes can also cause pain and discomfort in your cat when urinating. In any case, your veterinary team will figure out how to make your pet feel better and will recommend the proper treatment.


Why is your cat developing urinary tract problems? In our practices, we often notice that stressed cat are more prone to urinary conditions. We have to keep in mind that cats don’t manage stress like we do. For instance, lack of stimulation is a source of stress, especially in indoor cats. We tend to underestimate the importance of stimulation. They are smart animals that can get stressed by boredom when we don’t spice up their routine enough!

Other stressors can affect your cat’s health. When you move, for example, a new roommate, a new love partner, a new baby, or a cat suddenly roaming outside… Cats are creatures of habit that don’t do well with change.

Obesity is also a factor when it comes to urinary tract problems. We cannot stress enough the value of having a slim feline. Therefore, lack of physical activity is also a factor in developing urinary conditions.

Nutrition can also play a role in developing urinary conditions. The mineral content in some diets is not balanced for certain cats. Also, a cat that doesn’t drink enough water can develop serious lower urinary tract conditions.

Keep in mind that both male and female cats can develop urinary conditions. Nevertheless, males are anatomically more inclined to suffering from a complete blockage. Their urethra, the small canal allowing the urine to flow out of the bladder is longer and tinier than in females.

Remember: without immediate treatment, a cat with a complete blockage will die in great pain.

How can we prevent urinary conditions?

What can you do to prevent your cat from developing urinary conditions? Encourage them to drink more! Use a water fountain to keep the water fresh, put water in several places around the house, include wet food in their diet, add water to the kibbles, include a flavour enhancer in the water… There are many tricks. You just have to figure out what works best for your cat. A cat that drinks more urinates more. An active bladder will not allow sediments to build up as much, which helps prevent crystal and stone formation. It is even more important for your cat to drink water if they have already had urinary conditions.

You can also give your pet food that is specifically designed to reduce the risks of urinary tract diseases. This is especially important if your cat has already suffered from lower urinary tract diseases. If your cat is on a urinary diet recommended by your veterinarian don’t change anything in the feeding routine. The risks of painful recurrence could rise. Preventing recurrence is the endgame, and veterinary diets are a precious tool that can really lower the risk.

Don’t forget to stimulate your cat, especially if it is an indoor cat. Games, toys, being able to watch outside from different angles are all key elements in a healthy and stimulating feline life.

What if your cat shows symptoms?

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat shows signs of a urinary condition. After a physical exam, a urinalysis is completed to find the origin of the condition. An abdomen X-ray or ultrasound can also confirm presence of stones or crystals. A urine culture may also be recommended to find out if there is an infection and what would be the best treatment.

Once the diagnosis is done, your veterinarian will recommend the appropriate treatment. A urinary infection can be treated with the proper antibiotics, depending on the test results.

If there are stones or crystals, they can be dealt with using a veterinary diet that will have a mineral content and ingredients to promote the dissolution of crystals and stones. Others may have to be removed surgically.

Your veterinary team will also work with you to identify possible sources of stress in your cat. Anxious cats can benefit from a diet designed for anxiety problems. They can also be prescribed with calming medicine or drugs that will reduce the risks of idiopathic cystitis recurrences.

In other cases, we will reduce bladder inflammation by using anti-inflammatory medicines designed for cats, and we will help with pain management. Some diets with a specific amount of omega fatty acids may be recommended to help manage bladder inflammation.

If your cat is completely blocked, we will work fast. The animal will be hospitalized and we will unblock the urinary tract by flushing the urethra with a urinary catheter.

Back at home, we need to encourage cats with urinary conditions to drink more water. Also, wet food specially formulated to help with these conditions is important. It is also crucial that the cat is happy with the litter box’s material and location, and it must be easily accessible. An animal that is not happy with their litter box can hold it in for longer than needed, which increases the risks.

In conclusion, pay attention to the symptoms presented above, and to any behavioural changes in your pet. If in doubt contact your vet immediately. Lower urinary tract diseases are easily treated when they are caught early. Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water, feed them the proper diet, prevent them from getting bored and stressed, and keep an eye on any multi-cat relationships that could be causing stress.

Read more about urine marking

Have more questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the Passionimo veterinary clinic near you.