My Cat Is Not Peeing Anymore - Causes and Treatment
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If a cat cannot pee at all, it won't take long for a serious problem to arise. More commonly, you may find a cat has trouble urinating, a condition known as dysuria. Since we do not usually measure our cat's urine, it can be difficult to determine when they are not peeing as much as they did before. In these cases, it is important for us to look at other signs the cat has trouble urinating. Since the genitourinary system includes vital organs such as the kidneys, it is imperative we help our felines maintain urinary health.
It is for this reason AnimalWised explains the reasons why my cat isn't peeing anymore. We find out the common causes of dysuria in cats, as well as what treatment options are available to them.
How long can a cat go without urinating?
As stated in the introduction, a cat which has trouble urinating is said to have dysuria. This is when urinating is too painful, uncomfortable or difficult for the cat to carry out correctly. The duration of dysuria will depend on the duration of the underlying problem which causes it. In some cases, the problem may even resolve itself on its own, but we cannot leave it up to chance. This is because there are some serious and even life-threatening causes of dysuria in cats.
When a cat cannot pee at all, they are said to have anuria. Although they may be able to pass a few drops, the urine cannot pass through the urinary tract for whatever reason. It is important to know that both dysuria and anuria are symptoms of a disease, not a disease in themselves.
Although it will depend on the specific circumstances, a cat cannot go longer than a 24 hour period without urinating. If they still have not peed after this time, they may enter a medical emergency as their internal systems may have shut down. If your cat has not urinated for 24 hours, you will need to take them to a veterinarian immediately.
How to know my cat isn't peeing
In addition to distinguishing between dysuria and anuria, it is important to make another distinction. Although it is rare, it is possible you may find yourself in a situation where your cat isn't peeing, but is acting normal. Since not urinating for 24 hours or more is a serious sign of a problem, it is likely your cat is actually peeing, you just may not know where they are doing it.
There is a difference between a cat not peeing and a cat not peeing in their litter box. Cats may have a problem which is preventing them from wanting to use their litter box. This could be a hygiene issue or even a problem with stress. For example, noise and busyness in their litter box area might cause them to want to pee elsewhere. Another common problem is when you do not have enough litter boxes for a multi-cat household.
In this cas, the cat may be acting normal, but they are peeing somewhere we cannot see. If they have access to the outside, it could be in the garden. If it is inside the house, it could be somewhere hidden such as behind the couch or in a linen closet.
If the cat truly cannot pee, they will not be acting normally. The inability to urinate will reveal itself in behavioral changes. The main signs a cat cannot pee or is having trouble peeing are:
- Increased frequency of visits to the litter box
- Increased time spent in litter box
- Meowing or other sounds of distress when using litter box
- Litter is not stained or does not clump as much as before
- Litter changes color
- Cat urinates outside of the litter box in small amounts
- The cat's perianal area has stains around it due to increased use of litter box
It is important to remember that trouble peeing and marking territory are two different things. When a cat marks territory with urine, they deliberately spray small amounts of urine against vertical surfaces. When they have dysuria, they will arch their backs as they want to urinate but cannot or can only do so in small amounts.
Other symptoms that we can find when our cat cannot urinate include:
- Frequent licking in the genital area
- Bloody urine (known as hematuria)
- Loss of appetite
- Tremors and seizures
- Alterations to cardiac rate
Now we know how to identify whether a cat is urinating properly or not at all, we will look at some of the causes of this symptom in cats.
Reasons a cat cannot urinate
If your cat cannot pee, it means there is a problem with their genitourinary system. While psychological problems can cause your cat to urinate inappropriately, it won't stop this behavior altogether. Anuria or severe problems urinating will have a physiological origin and they include:
- Urinary stones: they can be formed by different minerals, although in cats struvite crystals (magnesium ammonium phosphate) are common. Although the cause that can give rise to the urolith in cats can be varied, it is highly associated with a poor intake of water, food with a low amount of water in its composition, a high magnesium content in the diet and alkaline urine. Learn more with our article on crystals in a cat's urine.
- Urinary tract infections: infectious cystitis and urethritis usually generate inflammation and narrowing of the urinary tract, causing difficulty in urinating in the feline. We will tell you more about Cystitis in cats: causes, symptoms and treatment here.
- External or internal neoplasms: growths and masses such as tumors in both females and males can put pressure on the urinary tract and restrict the flow of urine. These can happen in males or females. It is also possible a male cat can have inflammation of the prostate, although this condition is rare in cats.
- Inflammation of the penis: there are various inflammatory processes which mean a cat's penis might be swollen and restrict the flow of urine. We may notice this if we see the cat licking their penis a lot. It is also possible a hair can wind around the penis, something more common in longhair cats.
- Trauma: there may be a rupture of the urinary bladder caused by physical trauma. Urine continues to be produced, but is not evacuated to the outside. It is a very dangerous situation for the cat, since it suffers the risk of acute peritonitis due to the presence of urine in the abdominal cavity. Other parts of the urinary tract may be blocked as the result of trauma.
Other reasons why your cat may have stopped peeing include stress, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, congenital anomaly, poor diet or a tumor. As described above, in the case of stress, it will only be temporary unless physical damage has resulted.
My cat isn't peeing diagnosis
If our cat cannot urinate, we are facing a serious situation. For this reason, the first thing we will do is go to our trusted veterinarian to examine our cat for physical health problems. In doing so, they will be best able to determine the underlying cause of the problem.
To diagnose dysuria, anuria or other urinary problems in cats, a veterinarian will perform some combination of the following tests:
- Anamnesis: otherwise known as a medical history assessment, the vet will ask you a series of questions to assess what changes have occurred in your cat's behavior. This includes some of the physical symptoms mentioned above such a hematuria (blood in the cat's urine). They will also consult their medical charts, where possible.
- Blood tests: to see if there are any alterations, kidney damage or evidence of pathogens, among other issues.
- Urinalysis: to assess whether there are crystals in the urine or perhaps if the cat has a urinary infection.
- X-rays: specifically looking at the abdomen to see the genitourinary tract.
- Ultrasounds: abdominal ultrasounds may also be carried out, especially if they need to get a better picture of the bladder wall.
Learn more about some urinary problems in cats with our guide to lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) in cats.
Treating options for a cat not peeing
It is very important to be aware of the potential seriousness of the situation when a cat cannot pee. When a cat has not passed any urine at all after a 24 hour period, it is considered a veterinary medical emergency. If the problem is not treated within the next 48-72 hours, it is likely the cat will suffer a fatality. This is due to the buildup of toxins which occur which can lead to renal failure and a uremic coma.
The more time that passes between the onset of dysuria or anuria and the visit to the vet, the worse the prognosis for the animal. As soon as you identify that the cat cannot urinate, you should go to the specialist to for examination and for them to determine both the cause and the appropriate treatment.
There are some who may wonder if there are home remedies to use if a cat has stopped peeing. This is a medical emergency which requires direct treatment and home remedies are not likely to be sufficient. If we try to treat the problem ourselves and they have anuria, the problem will worsen and the cat will likely die.
Tips to prevent urinary problems in cats
To prevent some of the serious health problems represented by a cat being unable to urinate, we should do what we can to take care of their urinary system. As we have already mentioned, there are no home remedies, but we can apply some precautions to help keep your kidney function in good condition:
- Encourage hydration: this can be done using a water fountain with fresh running water or by providing more wet cat food.
- Exercise: if you play with your cat running from one side of the house to the other, it will help them to stay in shape. In turn, this will allow them to maintain a healthy weight and to avoid problems with obesity, diabetes and other factors which may negatively affect urination.
- Provide a suitable diet: this will be based on the cat's specific needs, influenced by factors such as age, size and health. Although it may seem obvious, it is also the most effective and important remedy, since a quality diet will provide them with all the nutrients they need to remain healthy.
It can also help to have more than one litter box around the house and also to ensure you meet proper standards of hygiene. Learn more with our article on how often to change a cat's litter box.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Is Not Peeing Anymore - Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.