Cats are some of the least understood animals in our homes. Many cats can be very ill without showing any discomfort. On the other hand, they can act tired or in pain when they have absolutely nothing wrong with them.
Because humans often have trouble reading the cues of our friendly household felines, it is important to take medical problems seriously when they come to our attention.
Cats often will try to hide when they are injured, as this made them more susceptible to attack when they were still in the wild.
Although it is rare, some cat owners are faced with a cat that is not urinating. What causes this behavior? How long can a cat safely go without urinating? What should cat owners do if this happens? Making the right decisions in this situation is essential to keeping your pet healthy.
Your Cat’s Urinary System
As veterinarian and researcher Dr. T.F. Fletcher note, the cat’s urinary system is very similar to a human one. They have two kidneys that filter out wastes from metabolism and from their foods.
Their kidneys also are important in maintaining pH balance throughout their bodies, controlling their blood pressure, and otherwise keeping them healthy.
The wastes filtered from the bloodstream are concentrated in the kidneys. Cats have much more concentrated urine than humans because they do not naturally take in as much water and other fluid as we do. In addition, their kidneys are designed to handle a much higher comparative protein intake than we do.
This urine passes through their ureters into their bladder, where it is stored. When they urinate, the urine passes through their urethra to the outside of their bodies.
Due to their unique physiology, cats are very prone to urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Their ureters and urethra are all very narrow and prone to inflammation. Urinary problems are some of the most common health issues in felines of all kinds.
Why Would a Cat Stop Urinating?
There are several reasons that a cat may abruptly stop urinating. There is a good chance that they are still urinating, but merely not doing so in their litter box.
If people suspect their cat is not urinating, they should watch the cat carefully to see if it is relieving itself in other places.
According to veterinary experts at WebMD, there are several reasons that a cat may not urinate. First, a cat may have a urinary tract infection.
This can cause inflammation in the narrow urethra and ureters as well as pain with urination. Cats with this issue will often hold their urine until they simply cannot, and then have an accident.
Second, cats have very concentrated urine that is prone to stones and sludge. Their ureters or urethra could be blocked by a stone or sludge.
This can quickly become a medical emergency. Male cats are more prone to this because their urethras are more narrow than those of a female.
These are the more common causes. There are also rarer issues. Cats occasionally can develop tumors that block the urinary tract or spinal cord injuries that make it so they cannot urinate.
Effects of Not Urinating on Your Cat’s Health
A lack of urination can affect a cat’s health quickly. Their bladder will become distended and unable to hold more urine. Urine will then back up into the kidneys, where it can stop these vital organs from performing their vital functions.
As metabolic waste builds up in a cat’s bloodstream, they may become lethargic or begin to vomit. They will have a distended abdomen and stop taking in food or water.
As the kidneys become increasingly distended, they will be unable to maintain electrolyte and pH balance. Their blood pressure will decline.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, these are the most common causes of death in cats with renal failure.
The ASPCA warns that these issues can develop and escalate quickly. Cats will begin to appear ill after around 24 hours. They will usually die within 48 to 72 hours.
Fast action is crucial if you suspect your cat is not urinating. Immediate veterinary care can save your cat from permanent kidney damage or sudden death.
Your Next Steps
If you suspect your cat is not urinating, it is important to attend to the matter immediately. First, make sure the cat is not urinating.
The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine notes that cats who have urinary tract issues will often urinate in places outside of their box and act secretively about this.
Second, watch their behavior. Cats with a urinary blockage will meow or express distress when trying to urinate, or repeatedly lick their genitals in an attempt to make their urine come out.
As this video shows, they may go to their litter box repeatedly without urinating or defecating, sometimes with visible abdominal contractions as their body tries to push the urine out.
It is important to closely examine your cat. If they have a blockage, they may have a hard or distended abdomen, especially in the lower abdomen over their bladder.
With this information, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Most will see your cat on the same day to ensure their good health.
Your veterinarian can examine your cat and/or perform tests to see if they are retaining urine. They also can catheterize the cat to drain their bladder if necessary. Last, they will find out why your cat is not urinating and treat the root cause.
In some cases, cats do not hold their urine because of a blockage, but rather because they are simply too dehydrated to produce urine. Your veterinarian can help you to determine the exact reason for this behavior.
A cat cannot go long without urinating. As a result, it is crucial to get veterinary help as soon as you notice this symptom.
This medical issue is usually easily treated when pet owners notice their pet’s odd behavior and get immediate care.