Advice to help spot cat bladder problems

Posted by Maggie the Moggie. September 18th 2015.

Seeing your cat experience bladder problems can be an incredibly stressful time, but there could be a number of reasons for this and it is a common problem for owners to deal with.

Fortunately, most cat bladder problems can be dealt with relatively easily by us as owners if we learn to spot the potential signs and symptoms.

Recognising your cat has a problem at an early stage means the possible treatments are more likely to be successful.

However, cats are known for hiding signs of pain and any change in their litter tray habits is an indicator something is wrong.


Cat bladder problems cause stress for you and your cat, but most causes are easily treated

What symptoms should I look out for?

  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating outside of their litter tray
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Urinating more frequent than usual
  • Only a few drops coming out at a time
  • Tense, painful abdomen

The four most common bladder problems cats can suffer from

Cystitis: The most common bladder problem suffered by cats, cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, which can be caused by dehydration, bacterial infection or the presence of urinary crystals and stones.

Simple treatments which can cure the issue include increasing the amount of water your cat drinks and switching to wet food. Most cases will disappear on their own within a week, but it can cause your four-legged friend severe pain and you may need to visit your vet to get some antibiotics prescribed.

If your pet is a neutered male cat and he is showing signs of cystitis then always contact your vet for advice rather than treating at home.

Bladder tumours: Whilst these are rare, they can be a sign of cancer and will need a vet to conduct a thorough examination, x-ray and rectal exam before deciding on a possible treatment.

Anti-inflammatory medicines and chemotherapy can reduce tumours in size, but in extreme cases surgery may be required to remove the tumour.

If you spot symptoms of any cat bladder problems, seek advice from a vet as soon as possible

Bladder stones or crystals: These can lead to difficulty passing water and may progress to a complete blockage if a vet is not consulted for an x-ray or ultrasound. Male neutered cats are more prone to this type of illness and any difficulty passing water from these pets will require emergency treatment from a Vet. Depending on the severity of the case, switching your cat’s diet, under the direction of a vet, can help to dissolve a stone, but surgical removal is also an option.

In extreme cases, this can be a life-threatening situation and vets have been known to place a needle through to the abdomen to remove urine directly from the bladder. However, they may choose to catheterise your cat instead whilst under anaesthetic.

Ruptured bladder: Typically caused by accidents (falls or coming into contact with cars), obstructions and bladder cancer, surgery is essential to resolve this issue.

You’ll know if your cat has this problem because they will be vomiting, dehydrated or unable to urinate. If you think this may be the case, contact your vet as soon as possible.

How can we help cats with bladder problems?

What you feed and give your cat to drink can have a big impact on their bladder.

Like any animal, cats need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated but they actually tend to drink very little water unless prompted.

One way to give them more water is by giving your cat wet food, which has an increased moisture content, or simply add some into their food before putting it in their tray.

If you have a cat with a history of arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, consult your vet and try to devise a diet which will control the pH acidity levels in their urine and reduce the chance of them suffering again in future.

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