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Managing Feline Incontinence: Causes Treatments and Prevention

Incontinence in Cats

Cats are known to be fastidiously clean animals that groom themselves regularly and are able to hold their urine for long periods. However, incontinence is not an uncommon occurrence in cats.

Incontinence refers to the inability to control urination and can lead to leakage of urine, wet fur, scalding, and small amounts of urine excretion.


The most notable symptom of incontinence in cats is leakage of urine. This is observed as wet fur around the genital area and tail, and also urine stains on the bedding.

It is also common for cats experiencing incontinence to have scalded skin around the perineum due to constant exposure to urine. In extreme cases, the cat may be completely unable to control urine output and will expel small amounts of urine at any given time.


Incontinence in cats can be caused by a plethora of factors ranging from congenital abnormalities to neurological disorders. Most cases of incontinence in cats are caused by issues with the spine, urethra, bladder, or anatomy in general.

Congenital abnormalities such as a small bladder can cause incontinence due to the limited volume, making it difficult for the cat to hold urine. Issues with the urethra such as a urinary tract infection or inflammation can cause urethra obstructions and result in incontinence.

Finally, neurological disorders such as spinal cord lesions can interfere with the communication between the brain and the bladder leading to incontinence.


When a cat starts exhibiting symptoms of incontinence, it is important to take it to the veterinarian for a diagnosis. The vet may perform a physical examination of the cat, take a detailed medical history, and perform urinalysis, bloodwork, X-rays, and ultrasound to identify the underlying cause of incontinence.

In some cases, the vet may recommend an MRI to get a clearer picture of the issue.


The treatment of incontinence in cats is largely dependent on the underlying cause. If the cause is an infection, then the vet will prescribe antibiotics.

For inflammation, the cat may be given anti-inflammatory medication. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.

If the incontinence cannot be resolved, the cat may need to wear diapers to prevent scalding and maintain cleanliness. Litter boxes designed for incontinent cats may also be used to prevent mess.

It is also important to take regular trips to the vet and monitor your cats behavior to ensure the condition is not getting worse.

Urinary Issues in Cats

Urinary issues are common problems that many cat owners may have to deal with at some point. These issues range from incontinence to the cat choosing to urinate outside the litter box.

Understanding the difference between these issues is important as it helps prevent unnecessary stress and medical procedures.

Differences between incontinence and choosing to urinate outside the litter box

Incontinence is the inability to control urine output, which leads to urine leakage and wet fur. On the other hand, cats that urinate outside the litter box have control over when and where they decide to urinate.

Getting to the root cause of the behavior is key in successfully treating the issue.

Symptoms of Urinary issues

The most common symptoms of urinary issues in cats include straining while urinating, dribbling small amounts of urine, bloody urine, vocalizing while using the litter box, frequent licking around the genital area, and urinating while sleeping. These symptoms can signal a variety of problems such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, inflammation, cancer, bladder muscle instability, and feline leukemia virus.

Causes of Urinary issues

Urinary issues in cats can be caused by a variety of factors such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, inflammation, cancer, bladder muscle instability, and feline leukemia virus. The risk of urinary issues can be increased by factors such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and stress.

Diagnosis of Urinary issues

In order to determine the root cause of urinary issues in a cat, the veterinarian may conduct a physical examination, take full medical history, and perform a urinalysis, bloodwork, X-rays, or ultrasound. In more complex cases, contrast imaging may be necessary to get a clearer diagnosis.

Prevention of Urinary issues

To prevent urinary issues in cats, it is important to take proactive measures such as providing a cat-proof fence that prevents the cat from accessing areas where it can be stressed or scared. Additionally, feeding your cat a healthy diet and encouraging exercise can prevent obesity and other conditions that could lead to urinary issues.

Some cats may require a prescription diet developed to help with urinary tract health. In conclusion, urinary issues and incontinence in cats can be distressing both for the cat and the owner.

Knowing how to distinguish between the two issues and being aware of the symptoms and causes is vital. If you think your cat may be exhibiting symptoms, take it to the vet as soon as possible to identify the root cause and take necessary precautions to resolve the issue or prevent it from getting worse.

Feline incontinence can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from infections to anatomic problems. Understanding the underlying cause of incontinence is important in finding the right treatment.

While some conditions may not be curable, there are various ways to manage feline incontinence. In this article, we will explore possible treatments for feline incontinence and discuss strategies to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Most Treatable


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and inflammation are some of the most treatable causes of feline incontinence. UTIs can be treated with antibiotics.

Chronic bladder inflammation, which can cause partial urethra blockage, can be managed with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication. In some cases, a cat may require surgery to remove a blockage or address inflammation.

Medical management is an effective way to alleviate symptoms and prevent incontinence from occurring or worsening.

Treating Partial Urethra Blockage

If a cat is experiencing a partial urethra blockage, immediate attention will be required. The cat might need a catheter, to remove the blockage.

This is a process that involves inserting a small plastic tube into the urethra to widen it, allowing the urine to flow freely. In severe cases that result in complete urethra blockage, surgery may be required to remove the blockage and allow urine to flow freely.

Treating Urethra Issues

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is an effective medication for treating urethra issues. This medication may cause an increase in heart rate, so it is not ideal for cats with underlying heart issues.

Speak with a veterinarian before administering PPA to a cat with heart issues.

Treating Anatomic Problems

If incontinence is due to anatomic problems such as a short urethra or an ectopic ureter, surgery can be an effective way to address the issue and improve continence. In cases where a cat has an ectopic ureter, the veterinarian may perform a procedure that reroutes the ureter to the bladder, ultimately relieving the cat of incontinence.

Managing Incontinence

If the underlying cause of incontinence cannot be treated, there are still various ways the cat can be managed. Waterproof covers can help protect bedding, furniture and floors from urine stains.

Litter boxes designed for incontinent cats, incontinence diapers, and bladder support garments can help manage incontinence. In cases where scalding or skin irritation occur, it is important to work with a vet to establish a treatment plan that provides relief for the cat.


Preventing incontinence in cats is largely dependent on catching potential issues early. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify developing issues before they worsen.

It is also essential to know the warning signs of incontinence, such as leakage, dribbling, and small amounts of urine excretion. You should also observe the cat’s behavior and toileting habits.

In conclusion, feline incontinence can be due to a variety of factors, but there are several effective treatments available to manage the condition.

Treatments such as medication, surgery, and various management strategies are available to alleviate incontinence symptoms and improve the cat’s overall quality of life.

If left untreated, incontinence can lead to scalding, painful urination, and skin infections. Working with a veterinarian to establish a treatment plan that works best for the cat is important in managing and preventing incontinence.

Feline incontinence can be distressing for both cats and their owners, but understanding its causes and treatments can make a significant difference in managing the condition. Infections, inflammation, and anatomic problems are some of the common causes of feline incontinence, and treatments such as medication, surgery, and management strategies like waterproof covers and incontinence diapers can help alleviate symptoms and improve the cat’s quality of life.

Early detection and treatment are crucial, and regular visits to the vet can help identify potential issues before they worsen. By working closely with a vet, cat owners can develop a treatment plan that best suits their cat’s needs.

Taking proactive measures to manage and prevent incontinence can help keep our feline friends comfortable and happy for years to come.

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