As the seasons change and the weather finally starts to get cooler in central Texas, Manchaca Road Animal Hospital starts to see a higher percentage of cats with urinary problems.
Signs of urinary problems include urinating outside of the litter box, straining or vocalizing when urinating, trying more often to urinate without producing much urine, and voiding of pink, dark, or blood-stained urine. These problems may occur more often during this time of the year because our feline friends do not drink as much water as they do in the hot, summer months.
So, what are the most common causes for urinary problems in cats? The most common condition we see at Manchaca Road Animal Hospital is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC). This disease is characterized by inflammation of the bladder due to an unknown cause, but likely stress is a significant factor. Urinary stones are another common cause, which can be very painful and even life threatening. Cats that exhibit urinary problems may also be suffering from urinary tract infections or behavioral disorders. To properly diagnose the problem in any specific patient, a thorough physical exam and analysis of the urine by a veterinarian is typically required.
In addition to not drinking as much water during the cooler winter months, other risk factors for developing urinary problems include improper/unbalanced nutrition, obesity, and aversion to the litter box because it is either too dirty, shared with other cats, or in a high traffic location. Stress in the household, such as house guests or conflict with other pets, can also contribute to the development of urinary disorders.
There are several things that you can do at home to encourage your cat to drink more water. Feeding canned food, which naturally has much higher water content, is an excellent step. Some cats may prefer water bowls of different shapes, sizes, or material (plastic, glass, porcelain), so you may want to offer water in several different dishes in order to determine your cat’s preferences. Also, placing ice cubes in the water or providing cold water seems to be preferred by many cats. And finally, if your cat likes moving water, try letting your cat drink from a dripping faucet or purchasing an automated pet water fountain.
In addition to water intake, offering a high-quality, balanced nutrition and ensuring that your cat maintains a proper weight are important factors in assuring not only urinary health, but overall whole-body well-being. Taking steps to enhance the home environment of your cat and removing potential sources of stress are equally helpful. Please see the links below for several great cat behavior resources that are helpful tools for understanding how cats think. They also provide several ways you can apply this knowledge to help keep your cat healthy and happy.