Is your cat trying to urinate but can’t?
Have you been noticing a change in your cat’s toilet behaviour recently? If you are seeing them constantly trying to urinate or straining when they do urinate, they may be suffering from a urinary issue. If they are, they will be experiencing a significant amount of discomfort and will need to be seen by your vet.
If no urine is coming out at all, your cat may be experiencing a blocked bladder.
This is a medical emergency. Call your vet straight away, tell them what is happening and arrange immediate treatment.
Causes of urinary problems in cats
There are a number of different reasons your cat could be struggling to urinate, and not all of them are medical. In a lot of cases, stress can be an underlying trigger for your cat. Changes in their environment such as new additions to the household (such as pets, children or furniture) or even simply where you’ve chosen to locate their litter tray, are common causes for feline stress. Abrupt diet change can also be an issue, as can other aggressive cats encroaching on their territory. These environmental stressors often contribute to Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC).
The second most common cause of urinary disease in cats is solid crystals forming in their urine which can lead on to bladder stones or urethral plugs. Less frequent causes of urinary issues in cats include anatomical problems, urinary tumours or a urinary tract infections. Vets refer to all of these potential issues as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or (FLUTD). FLUTD is a painful condition that is commonly diagnosed in male, desexed, middle-aged, overweight, indoor cats and cats that are only fed on a dry diet - however any cat can potentially be affected.
Signs of urinary problems in cats
If your cat has a urinary problem, then the increased frequency of trying to urinate and straining to urinate will be the symptoms you’re most likely to see first. You may also see their urine only coming out in a trickle rather than as a smooth flow. If the problem is severe, you may also see signs such as fatigue, blood in their urine, your cat crying out in pain and even vomiting.
If you’re noticing these signs in your cat, it’s very important to head straight to your vet. Urethral obstruction (a bladder blockage) is a severe condition that can quickly become a critical emergency if left untreated.
How to treat urinary problems in cats
Because stress can be such a key factor in a cat’s urinary issue, the first thing to do is make sure any potential sources of stress are ruled out. Talk to your vet about what to look for, but environmental triggers such as who or what they’re living with, what’s happening with their routine, where their litter trays are, and whether they have to share the litter trays with another cat, can all be problems that are easy to rectify.
If they are suffering from a bacterial infection, your vet would need to run a bacterial culture on the urine to rule this in or out. Although urinary tract infections in cats are rare, if one is diagnosed in your cat, your vet will likely prescribe an appropriate antibiotic. More serious cases such as a urethral obstruction or bladder stones may require urinary catheters or surgery. If the problem is caused by urinary crystals, your vet is most likely to suggest an increase in fluid uptake and a change in diet – especially if you normally only feed them dry food.
For ongoing management of feline lower urinary tract disease including cats with urinary crystals, vets will often prescribe a diet such as ROYAL CANIN®’s Urinary S/O formula. This diet has been specifically formulated to encourage your cat to drink more. It also helps decrease the formation of crystals in your cat’s urine and ensures regular bladder washout.