Your cat’s health
Make sure your cat urinates
every day. Living organisms
must eliminate waste each day to sur-
vive. Failure to urinate at all is a
life-threatening, medical emergency.
Numerous urinary tract diseases can
cause anuria, or the lack of urination,
including total renal failure. When you
go to scoop your cat’s litter box, make
sure you find clumps, wet litter, or
other evidence of urination if you don’t
use a clumping litter.
Urinary blockages, which are more
common in males, need immediate
attention. “Urethral obstructions are
almost exclusively in males because
their urethra tapers to the point of
being about 25 percent the size of
the female urethra,” said Gary D.
Norsworthy, D.V.M., a board-certified
feline specialist and owner of the
Alamo Feline Health Center in San
Antonio. “Crystals and mucoid debris
that may form in both genders will flush
out of the female but not necessarily
the male.” In his 43 years of practice,
Norsworthy has seen a urinary obstruction in two female cats that were
caused by bladder tumors at the opening of the urethra.
Cats should urinate at least once per
day, but “two to four times per day is
more normal,” Norsworthy said.
Take note if your cat’s
urine output changes. As
you clean the litter box, you’ll
get an idea of what’s normal
for your cat. Diet and water
intake impact a cat’s urine
output. For example, an
exclusive dry food diet
without sufficient water
intake can lead to dehy-
dration. “The cat’s
response to dehydration is to reduce
urine output as a means of conserving
body fluid,” Norsworthy said. Urinating
too little could indicate that your cat is
dehydrated. Give your cat plenty of
fresh water to drink each day.
An increase in urine output is a
symptom for the “big three” feline
diseases: kidney disease, diabetes, and
hyperthyroidism. If you notice a definite increase in the size of the clumps
or the amount of wet litter, have
your cat examined by a veterinarian,
because these are all serious diseases,
3 If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, first consider a
medical cause. When it’s painful to go
to the bathroom, cats might associate
the litter box itself with the pain.
Arthritis, for example, can make climbing
in and out of the box or posturing to
urinate painful. Urinary tract infections
make urinating itself painful. In fact,
Norsworthy said, any disease that causes
significant increase in urine output like
those mentioned above can also cause
your cat to stop using the litter box.
Your cat’s communication
4 Realize cats communicate with urine. this is called marking. If another cat is visiting the yard,
your cat might urinate outside the litter box to say, “This is my territory.”
When territorial marking, cats usually
urinate on a vertical surface near the
perimeter of their territory.
If kitty backs up to a wall and sprays
urine at a cat’s nose level, this is a mark
that contains a message for another
cat, said Dusty Rainbolt, associate cat
behavior consultant who has rescued
and rehomed more than 1,500 cats.
“Urine and feces are rich with
all kinds of information that you and
I can’t smell, like the age and sex of a
cat, whether the cat is in heat, and what
the cat had for dinner. Both urine and
feces contain pheromones that are like
a personal signature of a cat,” she said. A
multiple award-winning author, Rainbolt
is working on Cat Scene Investigator:
Unraveling the Mystery Behind Your Cat’s
Inappropriate Elimination, a book due
out in November.
“Unaltered cats are far more likely to
mark than altered cats,” Rainbolt said.
“Cats will mark and spray to attract a
mate. If you neuter or spay your cat, the
chances are very good that spraying will
be reduced or eliminated.”
Cats also spray to express anxiety
and stress. If you have multiple cats
(more than six), you have a significantly
increased chance of marking, Rainbolt
said. A new person or pet in the
household, a person or pet leaving the
household, new or re-arranged furniture,
moving to a new house, all can cause
your cat to become stressed, which can
trigger urination or defecation outside
the litter box, Norsworthy said.
5 Replicate your cat’s happy pheromones. Cats rub their
faces on the things and people they
like, marking them with their facial
pheromones. Cats will not urinate or
defecate on something they’ve marked
with their facial pheromones, and this is
the principle behind synthetic pheromone products. “Don’t put those near
the litter box,” Rainbolt said, because
cats won’t eliminate on anything smelling of these pheromones.
Some calming collars and diffusers
replicate the pheromones of a lactating
queen. “These products reduce stress
and make the cats happier, and a reduction of stress significantly reduces urine
marking,” Rainbolt said.
If it’s not a medical condition or a message, it’s probably the litter box.
Cats are clean animals who are very particular about where they eliminate.