Cats Health Cards N°19. Dyspnea associated with urinary pathology in cats



A cat that urinates outside its litter does not necessarily do it to "annoy" its masters "or" take revenge "of anything.

Indeed, certain special circumstances, such as the pain the cat may feel every time it tries to urinate, may induce it elsewhere than in the litter, a place that the animal will quickly associate with its suffering .

Several types of urinary disorders can trigger severe pain in urination, including cystitis, stones, or tumors of the urinary tract.

Crystals and urinary calculi

¤ Circumstances of onset and symptoms

- In the cat, a change in the pH of the urine can cause the appearance of urinary crystals:

For example, crystals of struvites may develop in a basic medium, while too acidic urine may give rise to crystals of cystine.

These crystals can then agglomerate and form calculations. These will cause a significant inflammation of the bladder (or cystitis) and irritation of the urinary tract


All emission of urine then becomes particularly painful: the cat meow, complains, it very often emits very small amounts of urine often reddened by blood.

The animal associates her pain very quickly with the fact of going to the litter and will develop a real aversion for her, then trying to urinate elsewhere (urine found in the sink, the bath ...)

- In the male cat, the presence of these crystals and calculations can even cause a real obstruction of the urinary tract:

Indeed, in the male, the urethra (conduit that allows the passage of urine from the bladder to the external environment) has an extremely small diameter. A urinary calculation or very many crystals grouped in a kind of "sand" will be able to easily "clog" this narrow passage.

The urine then accumulates in the bladder which becomes enormous and then ascends to the kidneys, triggering severe renal insufficiency. The cat stops feeding, seems particularly felled and can present vomiting as well as severe cardiac disorders. If no action is taken, kidney failure and its consequences can result in death of the cat in just a few days!

- Your veterinarian should be promptly informed of any disorder, urinary discoloration so that it excludes the presence of urinary calculi or put on the contrary in place an adapted treatment as quickly as possible if calculations are detected.

¤ Diagnosis

Several tests are necessary to demonstrate crystals or urinary calculi:

- The palpation of the bladder by the veterinarian sometimes reveals pain or an abnormally large bladder (bladder) in cases of obstruction of the urinary tract

- A urine test strip can show the presence of blood in the urine as well as an unsuitable pH

- A Cytobacteriological examination of urine reveals the presence of crystals

- Most urinary calculi (struvites, calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate) can be demonstrated on uneradiography.

Others, non-radiopaque, will require the realization of either anteriography after injection of a contrast medium or an ultrasound examination.

- Ultrasound allows not only visualization of bladder stones but also crystals present in large quantities forming a kind of "sand" in the bladder.

¤ Treatment

- If crystals have been detected in your cat's urine, the veterinarian will offer you an adapted diet allowing:

Either to dissolve the crystals present in the case of the struvites,

Either to prevent the formation of additional crystals for the other types of crystals.

The purpose of the foods distributed is to keep the urine at a precise pH, unfavorable to the formation of all types of crystals and calculations.

This adapted feed can also be distributed in wet form (pâté or freshness sachets) in order to further dilute the urine and thus promote the elimination of crystals and reduce their formation.

- If large calculations have been made, surgery will often be necessary. It consists of opening the bladder, removing the calculations and performing a meticulous rinse in order to eliminate the small calculations and the crystals that it can contain.

- Cases of obstruction:

Urinary obstruction is a real emergency: the cat must be "unclogged" as quickly as possible to avoid the installation of severe kidney failure and all its consequences.

To do this, the veterinarian will introduce a small probe into the urinary tract of the cat "clogged" trying to push back the calculation or "sand" obstructing the penis. This probe is then held in place, sometimes for several days, until the inflammation of the urinary tract diminishes and the urethra becomes permeable again.

Again, adequate nutrition should be put in place to avoid any risk of recurrence.

A second surgery will be carried out when the animal has recovered a good general state to extract any calculations present in the bladder.

Tumors of the urinary tract

- Certain tumors will be able to generate the same symptoms as those encountered in the presence of urinary calculi:

The cat begins to urinate much more often, seems to experience difficulties to do, and can complain when urinating.

There again, blood can be found in the urine and the cat, who has trouble every time he goes to the litter box, may no longer dare go and do it elsewhere.

Urinary incontinence may be added to these symptoms.

- These disorders will appear especially in the presence of a bladder tumor or a tumor of the urethra (conduit that allows the urine contained in the bladder to be evacuated to the outside).

These tumors can be demonstrated by medical imaging examinations such as ultrasound or an examination called urography (an X-ray opaque product is injected into the animal and makes it possible to demonstrate on an X-ray of the anomalies of the pathways urinary)

Infectious Cystitis - Idiopathic Cystitis

Inflammations of the bladder or cystitis are not necessarily secondary to the presence of bladder stones.

They can also result from a bacterial infection or be idiopathic (ie no precise cause for understanding the origin of inflammation).

Les cystites infectieuses 

¤ Origin

Some cystitis is linked to the presence of a bacterial infection. They are much less frequent than inflammations related to the presence of crystals or urinary calculi.

These infections are very often secondary to another pathology:

- Congenital malformation: An anatomical abnormality may favor the entry of germs into the bladder.

- extension of an infection of the genital tract

- urinary bladder or bladder incontinence (the bladder muscles no longer provide complete emptying of the bladder and the urine that stagnates in them contributes to the development of infections)

- secondary to a general disease such as diabetes (this pathology modifies the composition of the urine and promotes the multiplication of bacteria in the bladder), or hyperthyroidism

- You die

¤ Diagnosis

- A urine strip reveals abnormalities such as the presence of blood or protein in the urine.

- Urines will be collected in order to carry out a cyto-bacteriological examination allowing the detection of the bacteria. This examination is useful not only to know the bacteria responsible for infection but also to antibiotics that are effective in treating it.

Finally, in the face of chronic bacterial cystitis, additional tests (X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests) can be proposed to find a cause of these infections (tumor, diabetes, malformation of the urinary tract ...)

¤ Treatment

- The treatment of infectious cystitis is based on the administration of antibiotics.

When cystitis is frequent, the cyto-bacteriological examination of the urine allows the detection of the bacteria involved and therefore a precise adaptation of the treatment.

- Your veterinarian will also prescribe a medication to reduce spasms and thus reduce the pain experienced by the animal when urinating.

Idiopathic cystitis

Certain cystitis called idiopathic cystitis does not seem to be explained by any of the causes mentioned above:

- Radiographic and ultrasound examinations revealed no abnormalities (absence of tumor, absence of calculation) and examination of the urine did not detect crystals or bacteria. Only irritation of the bladder wall can sometimes be demonstrated.

- However, the cat presents all signs of cystitis with complaints, pain during urination, blood in the urine and may sometimes even become completely unable to urinate, as in cases of bladder globes associated with calculations urinary.

- In cases of idiopathic cystitis, signs of anxiety and stress should be sought in the cat.

Indeed, it appears that the frequency of these cystitis decreases in some animals thanks to the implementation of treatments used in anxiety disorders such as an enrichment of the living environment, a reorganization of the space or a change of the mode Food distribution ...

Your veterinarian will then look for other signs of anxiety in your pet (bulimia, chronic diarrhea, intensive licking, aggressiveness in certain situations or at certain times of the day ...) and will try, if To determine with you the origin of this stress.

Diseases responsible for increased drinking

Some pathologies such as diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, uterine infection, hyperthyroidism or liver disorder are associated with a marked increase in drinking.

In this case, uncleanliness is not related to an aversion to the litter but to the large increase in the quantity of urine emitted: the litter of the cat is very quickly saturated with urine and the cat does elsewhere.

If you see an increase in the amount of water consumed by your pet, talk to your veterinarian about the presence of any of these diseases.

The appearance of uncleanness in the cat can be linked to various diseases sometimes very painful.

These urinary disorders should be mentioned quickly with your veterinarian:

If a solution to eliminate the pain of the cat when urinating is not quickly established, the repulsion for the litter can persist over time and relearning the cat to do in litter will then be extremely difficult .