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What is Excess Protein in the Urine?

A diagnosis of proteinuria, or excess protein in the urine, may be alarming for cat owners, but a plan can be made with your veterinarian for your cat's long-term care and quality of life. A diet change is often required to ensure your cat's renal health.

Though it is easily diagnosed with a simple laboratory test, excess protein in the urine in cats can have a variety of causes that range from acute and treatable to chronic and merely manageable. Protein is filtered from the blood and the gastrointestinal system by the kidneys when they are fully functioning, and excess protein in the urine can indicate a potential renal problem. 

Symptoms of Excess Protein in the Urine in Cats

Often there are no symptoms or proteinuria, but there may be symptoms that are related to the underlying cause of the excess protein in the urine. Owners may notice a strong odor to the urine when there is a high level of protein present. An uncommon symptom of proteinuria that may also be present is hematuria, or blood in the urine. This may occur due to the strain that is being put on the kidneys or may be related to the underlying cause of the proteinuria. 


  • Acute proteinuria has a sudden onset and is typically caused by benign factors, such as a diet high in protein, or emergency reasons, such as kidney trauma or poisoning.
  • Chronic proteinuria occurs when there is prolonged stress on the kidneys or progressive renal insufficiency.

Causes of Excess Protein in the Urine in Cats

Proteinuria is a condition with many potential causes that range in severity. If a cat is found to have proteinuria during routine testing or when an illness is suspected, the cause for the excess level of protein should be thoroughly investigated due to the potential for more serious problems. Though there are other possible causes for proteinuria, some more common ones include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Kidney infection or inflammation
  • High-protein diet
  • Hypertension
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Parasites (such as lungworms and hookworms)
  • Cancer of the bladder or kidneys

Diagnosis of Excess Protein in the Urine in Cats

Excess protein in the urine in cats is diagnosed through urinalysis testing. The easiest way for a veterinarian to diagnose proteinuria is to obtain a sterile urine sample to perform a urine dipstick test on. The sterile sample is ideally obtained by cystocentesis, a process in which the veterinarian uses a long needle to obtain the sample from the bladder through the body wall. A sterile sample can also be gathered through urinary catheterization if the patient allows it. A drop of urine is then placed on each square of the test strip and is allowed to sit for the designated time for each test square. Protein levels, the presence of blood and the pH of the urine can all be checked for with the same dipstick test.

A ratio of the urine protein and creatinine levels can also be performed on the urine to determine the level of function that the kidneys have. If glomerular disease or other kidney disease is suspected, the veterinarian may recommend a biopsy of the kidneys to determine if there is a pathological cause for the low level of functioning.

Treatment of Excess Protein in the Urine in Cats

To treat proteinuria, veterinarians must first treat the underlying cause for the condition. If an infection is present, antibiotics will be prescribed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be prescribed in conjunction to treat inflammation. An uncontrolled disease such as diabetes or hypertension may cause proteinuria, and controlling the disease with medication is the best way to treat proteinuria in these instances.

Hospitalization with intravenous fluids may be recommended if the proteinuria is due to renal disease. Many cats with renal disease become so dehydrated that they do not want to eat and their other systems begin to shut down, so fluids are often used to increase hydration and replenish the body's electrolytes while also flushing the kidneys to cleanse them. Some cats will be prescribed subcutaneous fluids to be administered at home to continue to hydrate and cleanse the body.

Whether the cause for proteinuria is as simple as a high-protein diet or as complicated as renal cancer, a diet change may be recommended. A veterinarian may suggest a prescription diet that is designed for increased kidney function. 

Recovery of Excess Protein in the Urine in Cats

The prognosis for a cat with proteinuria depends largely on the cause for the excess protein being excreted from the body. With the proper treatment for what is causing the proteinuria guided by a veterinarian, cats can live a healthy and fulfilling life. These cats should be regularly monitored with an annual or semi-annual urinalysis and blood work to ensure no progression of problems.

Excess Protein in the Urine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

18 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Small blood clot in urine

I woke up this morning and saw a blood clot in my cats urine. She eats meat based kibble and wet food. Was wondering if the cause could be not enough water or too much protein in her diet or maybe both. She's behaving normally otherwise. Appetite good, activity good. She is also 18 and always has been very healthy. She doesn't show any signs of pain like pressing her head against something ect.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
484 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Possible reasons for Annabelle to be passing blood in her urine could be an infection, irritation, or cancer - I'm not sure if she is spayed, but if she isn't, a uterine infection could be possible as well. It would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can analyze a urine sample and determine what might be going on, and get her appropriate treatment for it. I hope that she is okay.

She is spayed

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Domestic shorthair
2 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Peeing on bed

My cat had been peeing on my bed for months and I just assumed it was separation anxiety because she is very needy and my schedule changed. I figured I'd bring it up at her annual checkup (in March). But I started to get more concerned it was something else so I ordered a ph strip and it showed high ph and protein in her urine. I tested a urine sample after she peed 5 minutes after eating her wet food. I am wondering if her eating had any effect on the results? I made an appointment for her but soonest one isn't until 3 days and I'm very worried I need to take her to an emergency vet.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations
Home urinary testing strips cause me to be skeptical, user error results in false readings all the time; using a non-sterile collection cup, holding the dipstick wrong (there is a right way) as well as other factors can give a false reading. Also if the strips are for humans, the reference values will be for humans and not cats. Keep an eye on her, but if you are concerned you should by all means visit an Emergency Veterinarian to put your mind at ease and get Sake care earlier. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Blue Russian
10 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Blood values / LFT's normal. Slight protein in urine. No change in behavior. Pepper gets extremely agitated/anxiety in the cat carrier. She pees, has a BM and throws up on the way to the vet. Took food and water away at 12pm the night before bet. Could this have slightly elevated her protein in her urine? What diet should I give her?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations
Dietary management is a difficult call to make when all other parameters are normal (blood tests, biochemistry etc…) and your Veterinarian would have picked up any anomalies with the kidneys size during a physical examination. Protein in the urine may be caused by a variety of different causes which may include infections, parasites, cancer, kidney disease, protein losing nephropathy, diabetes etc… these conditions would have in the most part have been ruled out by the blood tests, although an ultrasound of the bladder may be of value. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Pelé Brown
2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Licking at Genitals
Frequent urination, thrist

What steps should I take after finding out my cat has low levels of protein and blood in his urine?
He has been treated for a UTI with 1 round of antibiotics, but some crystals were still found in urine. He had a shot of antibiotics for the 2nd round of treatment.
A urinalysis then showed less crystals, but small amounts of protein and blood in urine.
The urine sample was sent to be cultured with no further results of bacteria.
The vet was worried about his inflammation.
The next steps recommended were an ultrasound and anti inflammatory drugs.
I would like a second opinion before proceeding.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations

Protein and blood in the urine are caused by either infections, stones, inflammation, tumours or severe trauma. Crystals can be managed with dietary changes and possibly supplements depending on the type of crystal, your Veterinarian may recommend a specific diet to help. A blood panel with biochemistry will indicate the overall internal health (liver, kidneys, blood counts etc…) and an ultrasound will allow your Veterinarian to see the structure of the kidneys and look for any masses or other anomalies. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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8 Years
Has Symptoms
Lethargy, At Times Breathes Heavy
Tooth Decay
Veterinaries here could not find a clear diagnosis. My cat always had teeth infection problems (I adopted him with a severely deformed jaw, there is tissue loss on jaw leaving most teeth exposed) and majortiy of the teeth are extracted - only 2 canine 2 molar left which are currently infected. Veterinary prescribed antibiotic and Melox tablets, and he started vomitting badly and became completely lethargic in 1 day. We cut the medication and vomitting stopped immediatelt but he was very llethargic so we went to another Veterinary, they found high protein and crystals in his urine. After 12 days of antibiotics, cat was still lethargic and his teeth were still infected but abscess was reduced (and still a lot of crystals in urine). They have been giving sub-Q fluids, ascorbic acid and diuretic for 4 days, cat's overall condition improved significantly. We ran another urine test, and vet said protein in urine is high, and cat was suffering CRF. Is it possible to make such diagnosis simply based on high protein in urea? Because my cat shows no symptoms such as vomitting (except for the day we gave Melox), bad breath, excessive water drinking, abnormal pee, weight loss, blood in urine, etc. Please help.