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Cat Urinary Problems

Updated on July 11, 2011

Cat Urinary problems can be divided into two categories. There are the problems that affect the kidneys and ureters and those which involve the bladder and urethra.

The kidneys are paired organs that are located on each side of the body just behind and below the last rib. Each kidney siphons urine into a ureter which empties into the bladder. The gateway that connects the neck of the bladder to the outside is called the urethra.

The main function of the kidneys is to maintain water and mineral balance and eliminate the waste products of metabolism. This is done by nephrons which are the basic working units of the kidneys. Damage to the nephrons lead to kidney failure. You should assume a Kidney problem if your cat appears to drink and/or urinate more than usual. There could also be a fever or a pain in the mid-back. Your cat may also seem to move with a stiff, bent over gait, or passing bloody or cloudy urine.

Evidence that points towards involvement of the Bladder or Urethra are obvious distress during urination. This may be in the form of straining, licking at the penis or vulva, crying out in pain, squatting but not passing urine, sudden urges to eliminate, or pain and swelling in the lower abdomen. There could also be the passage of mucus, gravel, blood clots or bloody urine.

Because symptoms might overlap and the fact that more than one organ may be involved at one time, it is extremely difficult to make a diagnosis based on symptoms alone. The laboratory can be of considerable help. You might want to consider routine tests such as a urinalysis which will tell your vet that your cat has a urinary tract inflammation. Blood chemistries will also provide more information about the function of the kidneys. Your vet also might suggest several other studies to pinpoint the problem.

Common Feline Kidney Diseases are:

1. Infections of the kidney and renal pelvis (Pyelonephritis) - One or both kidneys may be involved by a bacterial infection. Most times this is preceded by an infection lower in the system. There may be a blockage and in some cases bacteria gains entrance to the kidney's through the bloodstream.

2. Nephritis and Nephrosis - There are a few uncommon diseases that produce inflammation and scarring of the kidneys with a loss of functioning tissue. Most of them are progressive and lead to kidney failure. A condition called chronic interstitial nephritis is probably the most common.

The nephrotic syndrome is a condition in which a large amount of protein leaks through the kidney filtering system and is lost in the urine. The result is abnormally low serum proteins.

3. Uremic Poisoning (kidney failure) - Kidney failure is defined as inability of the kidneys to remove waste products from the blood. The build-up of toxin amounts produces signs and symptoms of uremic poisoning. Kidney failure can come on suddenly or it can occur gradually, sometimes over weeks or months.

Common Diseases of the Bladder and Urethra are:

1. Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS) - This is the most common disorder affecting the lower urinary tract in male cats. It is definitely the major health concern of cat owners despite the fact that it affects only about 1% of all cats. One reason for this is that FUS has a 50 to 70 percent rate of recurrence. FUS is caused by plugging of the urethra by a paste-like gritty or sandy material composed primarily of mucus struvite crystals (magnesium-ammonium-phosphate) which are about the size of salt. The chief signs of FUS are frequent voiding and straining, with partial or complete urethral blockage, and the passage of blood in the urine. These cats are in need of immediate veterinary attention.

2. Cystitis - This is an infection of the bladder, which is the most common urinary tract disorder in female cats. The majority of cases are caused by bacteria which move upward from the vagina and urethra.

3. Bladder Stones - These occur in cats occasionally, especially queens. Stone formation is one aftermath of recurrent urinary tract infections and are treated by surgical removal.

4. Urinary Incontinence - Incontinence is defined as the loss of voluntary control over the act of voiding. In cats, a common cause of incontinence is loss of bladder tone as a result of recurrent attacks of urinary retention associated with FUS.

Another cause of incontinence is cystitis, especially when associated with an irritated bladder. The irritable bladder goes into spasm, producing a voiding urge which comes on suddenly before the cat can get to the litter box.

Cat Urinary problems may sometimes prove to be a very serious matter. If your cat exhibits any of the symptoms shown above, you should minimally consult your veterinarian. You may be saving your cat's life.

References: The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D. V. M. and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition

Cubby eating her UrinaryTract Infection Prevention food

How to Treat a Cat's Bladder Infection


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    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      judy, paralysis of the hind quarters and loss of bladder strength is a very serious problem that a vet needs to look at and suggest a plan for you.

    • profile image

      judy lutton 

      7 years ago

      Have a 15yo male who has lost bladder tone and also now has paralysis of hind quarters? Vet has been expressing bladder. What can we do

    • Victel profile image


      10 years ago from Breda, The Netherlands

      My cat suffers from kidney stones. Great, informative hub!!

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 

      10 years ago

      Very informative, thanks for sharing!


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