4 Signs and Symptoms to Watch for in Cats With Urinary Problems

September 14, 2022 in Cat

Cats are a source of love, cuddles, and joy, so when their usual sweet or playful essence becomes dim, there's usually something amiss. If your cat is having a hard time in the litter box, there might be something wrong with their bladder or urinary tract.

Urinary problems in cats are relatively common and can range from infections (UTIs) to blockages or other conditions that make urination difficult, frequent, or uncomfortable. To properly test for this, a veterinarian will ask you to bring in a urine sample, but if your cat is unable to provide one, they can remove a sample from the bladder using an anesthetic and needle at the office. In other cases, x-rays or other testing might be necessary. From there, a proper diagnosis will be given, and subsequent treatment will be provided.

If you're not sure whether there's a urinary problem present in your cat, here's a helpful list of symptoms and signs to watch out for:

1. Lethargy

If you've recently found yourself googling: "Why is my cat lethargic?" you're already aware that there are several potential reasons. Lethargy doesn't necessarily indicate that there are urinary problems in cats, but if this symptom is present with others listed below, then it may be cause for concern. Being tired or lazier than usual can be hard to detect in certain cats who are frequent loungers and nappers, but any prolonged behavioral change in the way of their activity should be monitored.

2. Discomfort When Urinating

If your cat yelps, winces, whines, or otherwise shows signs of discomfort or pain while urinating, then something is wrong. These symptoms might be a sign of urinary stones, an obstruction, or an infection.

  • Urinary blockages in cats can be full or partial, so the amount of urine produced will help indicate how severe the obstruction is. They can be caused by stones (which are explained below) or plugs, which are formations of cells and tissues in the cat's body. A blockage is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate care and attention. A vet will flush the urethra and might prescribe antibiotics or further treatment afterward.
  • Urinary tract infections are rare in cats but are still possible, and a veterinarian will be able to test to see if one is present. They can be caused by viruses, parasites, or other bacteria. Antibiotics can be prescribed to treat urinary tract infections.
  • Urinary stones can cause blockages and are often the result of environmental or emotional stress. Some stones can be removed through a vet-prescribed diet, but in more severe cases, removal is necessary.

3. Frequent Urination

Frequent urination in cats can also be a sign of a urinary blockage because the cat will want to urinate in lesser amounts more often to mitigate their own pain. Just like in the section above, seek veterinary care if your cat is urinating often in small increments since this might be a sign of a urinary blockage in cats. Other reasons for frequent urination include:

Kidney disease - Increased thirst and frequent urination in cats can be signs of kidney disease since a cat with this illness is unable to produce concentrated urine (meaning, the cat is releasing too much water).

Hyperthyroidism - This condition means your cat's thyroid is overactive or produces too many hormones. This can often make a cat dehydrated, causing them to drink more water and urinate more frequently.

Diabetes - This chronic illness is due to a cat's inability to produce enough insulin, which impacts their glucose levels. Frequent urination can be a symptom of untreated diabetes, due to increased dehydration and water consumption. If your vet makes this diagnosis, medication and a special diet will be recommended.

It's important to note that frequent urination might also be a result of your cat being thirstier in hot weather or during the summer months. However, visiting with a veterinarian can help with the early detection of more serious illnesses, which can lead to higher chances of recovery or mitigating symptoms.

If your cat is experiencing a change in urinary patterns, it's paramount that they get the care they need. Please make an appointment with Forever Vets today!