Feline urinary conditions affect many cats every year. It’s one of the most common problems people bring their cats in for. If your cat is having a urinary issue, you might see them going to the box frequently with small amounts of urine, or you may notice them urinating outside the box in the home. The main urinary issues we see in veterinary medicine are cystitis and urinary blockage. Urinary tract infections are actually rarely diagnosed in cats; most are seen when cats are older and more prone to actual infections.
Cystitis is the main cause for urinary accidents, pain, and frequent urination in cats. Cystitis causes the bladder wall to become inflamed and sometimes thickened. Many times owners will see blood in their cat’s urine as well. We are not sure of the pathogenesis of cystitis, but it many times comes on because of some sort of stress in the cat’s environment. A move, a new member of the family (animal or human), a change in schedules, a trip, or even a new piece of furniture can cause a cat to show signs of cystitis. The main treatment of cystitis is C/d food by Hill’s Science Diet. It’s been proven to clear up and prevent cystitis in cats. It’s also beneficial in preventing crystal and stone formation as well which can also cause bloody urine. Many times we also treat them with pain medications to help with pain and inflammation while the food is starting to work.
Changing the environment is the other mainstay of treating cystitis. These include giving your cat plenty of play time each day, vertical spaces for them to hang out in and having large litter boxes and good litter box habits- having one on every floor of your home and keeping them clean is also very helpful in preventing stress. Feliway can sometimes help as well. This is a cat pheromone diffuser that helps calm down environments especially if there’s inter-cat aggression present causing the stress.
The other common urinary issue we see in cats, especially male cats, is urinary blockage. This occurs when crystals or stones are stuck in the urethra preventing the passage of urine. Many times you’ll see similar signs to cystitis- frequenting the litter box with little or no urine production, constant squatting, yowling, painful abdomen, not eating, and vomiting as well. Urinary blockage is an EMERGENCY. If you think your cat may be blocked, you need to bring him in asap. If they are not treated soon after they block, they can get kidney damage and if they wait too long, can die. These cats typically do very well once we place a urinary catheter for 24-48 hours. If they continue to re-obstruct, then surgery should be performed to widen the urinary opening.
Once a cat is treated for blockage, we typically put them on a urinary food such as C/d by Hill’s Science Diet or SO by Royal Canine. These foods need to be fed for life to prevent future crystal formation and urinary blockage.
Dr. Jessica Woodrow
River Hills Pet Care Hospital