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Urinary retention in cats: types, causes and solutions

Feline urinary retention can become a nightmare in your home. Your cat might stop using the litter box correctly (or stop using it altogether) and start urinating in other parts of the house, such as on sofas or beds. This leaves a very strong, stubborn odour throughout the house, and can make living with a cat nearly impossible—even causing some owners to abandon their pets.

If you encounter this problem, the first thing you should do is determine what kind of urination behaviour your cat is exhibiting, and then go to a veterinarian to rule out diseases.

There are three possible types of urination behaviour:

  • Normal urination: the cat moves into an arched position, lifts its tail horizontally and releases a large amount of urine in one continuous stream onto a horizontal surface.
  • Feline idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder and urinary tract): the cat maintains the same position, but only urinates a little at a time. Sometimes male cats with this condition urinate while standing upright.
  • Urine marking: in this case, the cat (usually male, although females can do this too) stands on their hind legs with their tail raised, and sprays a small amount of urine onto a vertical surface.

It’s also essential to know the possible causes of urinary retention.There are many, and it’s important to find out what exactly they are in order to fix them:

  • One common cause of urine retention is stress, which in turn has many causes, one example being a lack of environmental enrichment. A veterinary specialist in feline behaviour can help you pinpoint the problem.
  • The litter box can be another cause of urinary retention in cats. A bad location (in an area that’s too exposed or noisy) can make a cat stressed and uncomfortable while using it. Other possible issues are a bad design (badly ventilated, uncomfortable, too large or too small), the wrong kind of cat litter, uncleanliness, a lack of training or a history of traumatic experiences while using a litter box. It’s essential that all owners take this into account in orderto provide their cat with a place where they feel comfortable and willing to use the litter box.

For your cat to recognise the litter box as the right place to do their business, you have to keep it clean and put it in a quiet, inconspicuous place, far from food and areas with a lot of activity. Your cat needs privacy and cleanliness. To learn more, take a look at our tips for keeping your cat’s litter box in perfect condition.

No matter what, when this problem occurs, a trained professional is always the best person to take it on. They’ll help you find the best possible solution to improve your living conditions and make both your cat and your family feel much better.

Has your cat ever experienced problems with urinary retention?


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