Living with a Cat Who Has Urinary Issues

Here’s how to help your cat deal with their urinary issues.

What is it like to live with a cat who has urinary problems?

This can be pretty challenging and hard to understand, especially when you are washing your bedding after a long day at work. You are not alone with this problem; many cats struggle with urinary problems. My cat has a medical condition called Idiopathic Cystitis, which is a lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and more specifically, it’s an inflammation of the bladder with no known cause (FIC). I find when he’s anxious or stressed, or there’s been a disruption in his daily routine is when his disease becomes known.

What can we do to help these cats?

I have found a few things that have helped over the years. I say years because yes, my 6-year-old cat and I have been dealing with this since he was 2. One day, for some reason he urinated on my dog’s bed and then not too long after that he urinated on a blanket. I thought maybe it was stress from our move, so I washed everything and didn’t think too much about it. He continued to randomly urinate on things, clean clothes, dirty clothes and dog beds mostly. So, a trip to the Vet Clinic was determined where they did some tests to rule out stones, crystals and infection. The end result was as I mentioned before a condition called Feline Idiopathic Cystitis.

At first, I tried to give him medications, but that seemed to stress him even more than the condition itself. That was a setback, but we were determined to help him. The next plan was to try a prescription diet and environmental enrichment. I enriched his environment with some new toys such as a laser pointer, the cat teasers and hiding food, which motivates him to be active and use his hunting instincts. However, he did still urinate outside the box just not as often. We then tried a medication called Zylkene, which seemed to help him even more and then we tried Amitriptyline again and were successful. I also increased the number of litterboxes in the house, with one on every level and the number of water dishes, so they were easily accessible.

Finally, we all know how sensitive our feline friends are. Please keep this in mind when you are placing their litterboxes, it does not take much to scare a cat. A lot of people like to put the litterbox in the furnace or laundry room, so it’s not visible. To us that makes a lot of sense, to a cat, it can be scary and sometimes lead to inappropriate elimination. Furnace and laundry rooms are very loud and make sudden noises which can scare a cat when using a litterbox and may deter them from using it next time. Also, hooded litterboxes can trap odours which are unpleasant to cats and more importantly they might feel trapped. The best ones to use are ones where they have multiple exiting points.

Please remember this is a very common problem and you do have multiple options, whether it be medications, diet change, environmental enrichment or a combination of all three. Sometimes it is just trial and error. With my cat, I was eventually able to get him on a medication that’s going to help him even more. I am very interested in animal behaviour and nutrition which has probably helped keep me sane and keen on his condition. Which has helped him lead a happy and healthy life.

Written by: Amanda, VA