Urinary problems in cats, causes and solutions

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While urinary problems in cats can be fairly common, especially as they age, some of them are life threatening and need to be treated immediately. Here are some of the reasons why your cat may be experiencing urinary difficulties and what you can do about it.

Urinary Problems in Cats

Here are the need to know facts when it comes to feline urinary tract health:

  • If your cat is having trouble urinating this may be because of an obstructed urethra which would need to be seen by a vet asap and is defined as a ‘medical emergency’
  • Male cats are more prone to obstruction than female cats
  • Feeding dry (water-depleted) cat food contributes significantly to urinary tract diseases
  • Always remember to have regular check ups with your vet and to keep your furry friend covered with pet insurance for cats

Symptoms of an obstructed urethra or urinary blockage:

  • Repeatedly straining to urinate in or around the litter box. …
  • Producing only small drops of urine or none at all.
  • Crying or howling in or around the litter box or in general.
  • Licking at the genitals or around the base of the tail.
  • Hiding/lethargy.
  • Vomiting and/or refusing to eat
  • Blood in the urine is not necessarily indicative of an infection

What causes urinary problems in cats?

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Dry cat food

Poor diet is one of the key causes for urinary issues. Feeding a water-rich diet of canned or homemade food is critical for urinary tract health; feeding dry (water-depleted) food contributes significantly to urinary tract diseases. Cats consume double the amount of water when fed a water-rich diet versus dry food.  This fact considers both sources of water:  food and water bowl.

If your cat is not eating a balanced diet, blockages can get created in the urethra. This leads to bloody urine, difficulty urinating and other serious health issues. These may start out small and develop into something bigger over time, if not treated or if the condition worsens.

Generally speaking, the basic diet recommendation for the average cat with urinary tract issues is a high protein/low carbohydrate canned food with added water

An underlying medical condition

Your cat could also have a urination problem because of a medical condition. If your cat has been neutered recently, that can increase the risk of urinary problems. Any surgery or corrective measure taken that affects urination can lead to issues as well, and you will want to consult with your veterinarian about those.

A lack of water… or too much water

Some cats are simply not getting enough water when they start to experience urination problems. If your cat is dehydrated, it could be because you are not placing out enough water for her to drink, the temperature is too high inside the house or the cat is engaging in too much physical activity.

Alternatively, your cat can suffer from urinary issues if they drink too much water. Excessive water consumption can cause an overactive urinary tract and can result in infection or other issues.

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Stressed cats reveal their stress in a variety of ways. This stress could manifest itself as a urinary health issue, so look for signs that your cat is mentally unwell. If your cat walks around with her tail between her legs or her ears down, or is always staring at the floor with wide, glazed over eyes, then she is probably afraid, depressed or stressed. Have you recently moved house? Or, is there a new member of the household? You will need to get to the route of your cat’s stress to solve the issue. There’s some good advice on relieving cat stress on Battersea Cat Home’s website which you can find here or you might like our article on calming a nervous cat.

How to help a cat with poor urinary health

You see your cat suffering and want to do something about it, and thankfully you can. If your cat is suffering from urinary issues due to a poor diet, then changing her diet is the first thing you must do. Read online resources, talk to your vet, and make sure your pussy cat is eating cat food specifically designed for urinary tract issues or good urinary health. There’s a helpful resource on this here, and you should start to see positive results in as little as a few days.

For cats that are suffering due to dehydration, you can try placing more water bowls around the house so that she doesn’t have as much trouble finding one wherever she is when she becomes thirsty. Another good idea is to invest in a cat water fountain.

You can also change out the water more frequently to ensure it is safe and appealing for the cat. Another method to try is to decrease the temperature of the house for your indoor cat, making her sweat less. If there are other animals in the house or yard, then be sure they are not keeping the cat away from the water dishes.

If your cat is drinking too much water, then you can try only putting out the water dishes at certain times of day. You can also try to prevent your cat from using water sources you have not sanitized, such as gutter water or pipe water outside the house. Keep your cat indoors to control her water consumption better. Conditions like diabetes can cause your cat to overdrink as well.

Cats that are stressed can benefit from regular attention from their owners as well as a reevaluated environment. Look for stressors all around your cat, such as larger animals, loud noises, lots of foot traffic and a lack of safe, private spaces for their daily activities.


If you cannot find a solution at home for your cat’s urinary problems, then it is time to call a veterinarian. Don’t wait too long for this step, especially if your cat is exhibiting severe symptoms and seems to be in immediate distress. The sooner you get her looked at by a professional, the sooner your cat can experience some relief.


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