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Bladder Issues in Cats: A Comprehensive Guide for Owners

Updated: 2 days ago

Bladder issues are relatively common in cats and can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms for our furry friends. From urinary tract infections (UTIs) to more serious conditions like bladder stones or feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), understanding these issues can help cat owners provide the best care possible for their pets.

This comprehensive guide explores the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for various bladder issues in cats, offering insights into maintaining urinary health and preventing future problems.

Common Bladder Issues in Cats

Several conditions can affect a cat's bladder health, including:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Though less common in cats than dogs, UTIs can still occur, especially in older female cats or those with underlying health conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes.

  • Bladder Stones: These mineral deposits can form in the bladder, causing irritation or blockage.

  • Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC): This complex condition is characterised by frequent or painful urination without an infection or stones. Stress is believed to be a significant factor.

  • Urethral Obstruction: A critical condition associated with FIC where a blockage prevents a cat from urinating, requiring immediate veterinary attention.

A ginger and white cat sitting in a litter tray
Take a look at the list of signs below to see if your cat is trying to tell you they have bladder issues.

Recognising the Signs

Early detection of bladder issues can greatly improve the outcome for your cat. Signs that may indicate a problem include:

  • Frequent trips to the litter box

  • Straining to urinate with little or no urine output

  • Crying out or showing pain while urinating

  • Urinating outside the litter box

  • Blood in the urine

  • Excessive licking of the genital area

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to contact us or an emergency centre as soon as possible.

A grey tabby grooming
Constant licking at the peroneum can be a sign of urinary issues.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A thorough examination is crucial for diagnosing your cat's specific bladder issue. Diagnostic tests may include urinalysis and urine culture, blood tests, ultrasound, and/or X-rays. These tests are typically all performed on the same day, often with light sedation to minimise stress on the cat.

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and may involve:

  • Antibiotics for urine culture-confirmed UTIs

  • Dietary changes to dissolve bladder stones or manage FIC

  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications

  • Surgery in occasional cases to remove bladder stones or address recurrent urethral obstruction, where other management strategies have not helped

an ultasound picture of a urinary stone
Can you spot the stone? Bladder ultrasound makes it easy for us to diagnose this issue.

Ongoing Management

Long-term management of bladder issues in cats often involves lifestyle and dietary measures, such as:

  • Maintaining a Healthy Diet: Feeding a balanced diet that supports urinary health. Specialised prescription diets may be useful, but these should only be used under veterinary supervision.

  • Encouraging Water Consumption: Providing fresh water daily and considering a cat water fountain to encourage drinking. Switching to a wet diet and adding extra water to the food will help reduce issues in some cats.

  • Reducing Stress: Creating a calm environment can help prevent FIC flare-ups. Consider stress reduction strategies like providing hiding places, playtime, and scratching posts. Addressing inter-cat behavioural issues is very important.

  • Medical treatments: Some cats require long-term medications to settle FIC or to manage complicated urinary tract infections.

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Routine wellness exams can help catch and address urinary issues before they become severe.

A ragdoll drinkign from a water fountain.
A constant supply of fresh water is essential for all cats, especially those with bladder problems.

By recognising the signs of urinary problems, seeking prompt veterinary care, and implementing longer-term measures, we can help cats prone to these painful conditions enjoy happier, more comfortable lives. Remember, when it comes to your cat's health, you're their best advocate, so stay informed and proactive about their urinary well-being.


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