Owners report house soiling as the number one behavioral problem they encounter with cats, and urinary tract disease is consistently ranked near the top of the list for most common feline health problems. These statistics are closely related to each other. Cats suffering from urinary tract disease are far more likely to urinate outside the box than healthy cats.
Cats with urinary tract disease typically have some combination of the following symptoms:
- urinating outside the litter box
- frequent attempts to urinate
- straining to urinate
- producing unusually small or large amounts of urine
- pain during urination
- licking around the urethral opening
- discolored urine
- increased thirst
- weight loss
These symptoms can be caused by a variety of different diseases, and there is no way to determine which might be involved without diagnostic testing. A veterinarian will need to perform a physical exam, collect a thorough health history, and obtain a sample of the cat’s urine for analysis. Depending what he or she finds, blood work, abdominal X-rays, an abdominal ultrasound, and/or a urine culture may also be needed.
The following are commonly diagnosed types of urinary tract disease in cats.
Chronic Kidney Disease is caused by the gradual loss of the kidneys’ ability to function normally, resulting in the build-up of metabolic waste products in the blood stream and an inability to concentrate urine.
Cats with Feline Idiopathic Cystitis suffer from inflammation of the lower urinary tract, but the cause is unknown. Affected individuals typically get better after a few days to a week but can suffer multiple relapses.
Bladder Stones in cats are usually composed of either struvite or calcium oxalate crystals. Medications and dietary changes can dissolve or prevent the recurrence of these types of bladder stones.
Bladder Infections are not that common in young, healthy cats. The chance that a bladder infection is responsible for a cat’s symptoms increases with age and/or the presence of a predisposing condition like diabetes mellitus.
Whenever a cat’s urinary habits change, he or she should be seen by a veterinarian. Once a diagnosis is reached, feline urinary health medications, therapeutic foods, and other treatments are available that can help the cat feel better and start using the litter box again.