What is Lack of Bladder Control?
Lack of bladder control is referred to as urinary incontinence in and is a term used to describe a portion of the lower urinary system failing to operate adequately. The urinary system is controlled by nerve receptors, smooth muscles, and pressure from inside the bladder. When the urinary system is compromised by an infection, bladder stone, mass, or hormones, the feline will strain to control urinary leakage. The feline will often urinate at inappropriate times and the skin around the elimination organs will develop a rash from the highly acidic urine soaking his/her fur. Lack of bladder control in cats can be frustrating for cat owners, but more importantly, will cause your cat a great deal of distress and must be addressed by a veterinary professional.
If your cat is having a difficult time making it to the litter box, dribbles urine, or leaves puddles around the home, she could be suffering from lack of bladder control. Lack of bladder control in cats is a medical condition resulting from underlying issues that are causing the feline to lose control of her bladder muscles. The bladder is a hollow organ that stores filtered waste until it has reached full capacity. Once the bladder is full, the muscle contracts, sending messages to the brain, which gives the cat the “urge” to urinate. In a cat with a healthy bladder, the feline can control the sphincter muscles until the appropriate time and location. However, elderly cats, cats that have given birth, and those with underlying disease or infection, may no longer have full control of these muscles.
Symptoms of Lack of Bladder Control in Cats
The first signs of lack of bladder control a cat owner will notice are puddles of urine on the carpet, furniture and around the home. A pet owner may first believe lack of bladder control to be a behavioral problem, known as periuria. Periuria is a feline behavioral disorder that the cat controls, whereas urinary incontinence is uncontrollable, with symptoms including:
- Wet fur surrounding the vulva or penis
- Rash or inflamed skin around the external urinary organs
- Damp fur along the feline’s underbelly and legs
- Involuntary dribbling of urine
- Urinating at inappropriate times
- Puddles of urine around the home and in the cat bed
There are several types of lack of bladder control in cats.
Lack of bladder control is caused by an obstruction of the urethra, preventing urine to be voided from the body. Paradoxical incontinence is commonly caused by bladder stones and reflex dyssynergia.
Lack of bladder control is caused by impaired muscle function and a disorder of the lower bladder neurons. The bladder literally overflows with urine because the neurons fail to signal the brain and pressure in the bladder becomes too great for the sphincter muscle. Overflow incontinence is usually caused by neurological problems or illness.
Urethral Sphincter Incompetence
Lack of bladder control is caused by the weakening of the urethra. The sphincter muscle that holds urine until the bladder is completely full has become weak and now leaks urine when resting, or upon abdominal pressure or coughing. Urethral sphincter incompetence is a common problem for felines that have given birth, are pregnant, or have reached a mature age.
Lack of bladder control is caused by continuous contractions of the smooth muscles surrounding the bladder. Urge incontinence is usually caused by bacterial bladder infections, yeast infections, hematuria, dysuria and pollakiuria in felines.
Causes of Lack of Bladder Control in Cats
Lack of bladder control in cats can be caused by a variety of reasons affecting the lower urinary system including:
- Bacterial or yeast infections
- Uroliths (bladder stones)
- A urethral plug
- Old age
- Giving birth
- A mass causing pressure on the bladder
- Nerve damage
- Lesions surrounding the brain or spinal cord, preventing signals from reaching the bladder to the brain.
- Ectopic ureter (a birth defect)
Diagnosis of Lack of Bladder Control in Cats
Diagnosis of lack of bladder control in cats will begin with a physical examination and review of the feline’s medical history. During the physical examination, the veterinarian may palpate (feel) the bladder to detect the presence of stones and the level of urine the bladder is holding. At this time it is important to relay the symptoms you noticed at home, when your cat began the inappropriate urination, and any new changes in the household. (New changes in the household, paired with inappropriate urination could be a sign of periuria, so the veterinarian will want to rule this possibility out). Additional diagnostic tests the veterinarian may perform include:
- Urinary analysis
- Blood test
Treatment of Lack of Bladder Control in Cats
The treatment of lack of bladder control in cats will depend on the underlying condition.
In the case of urinary incontinence caused by an infection, your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal medication.
Urinary Tract Stones / Bladder Stones
In the case of stones, your veterinarian may choose to have the stones removed via surgery or have them broken down with shock wave therapy. A dietary change may also be made.
In the case of a growth or mass, the veterinarian may choose to have a biopsy done to reveal whether it is malignant or benign. Chemotherapy or surgery may follow.
Recovery of Lack of Bladder Control in Cats
Recovery and management of lack of bladder control in cats again will depend on the underlying condition. The key to recovery in bladder control problems is detecting the problem early. Once your veterinarian has pinpointed the problem, your cat can make her way to a proper recovery or a better quality of life. Frequent check-ups should be expected with the veterinarian to ensure the prescribed treatment is proving to be effective.