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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 abnormal hormone levels, the feline will strain to control urinary leakage. The feline will often urinate at inappropriate times and the skin around the genitals 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, those with underlying disease or infection, may no longer have full control of these muscles. 

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Lack of Bladder Control Average Cost

From 420 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$500

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 (urinating in inappropriate places). 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

Types 

There are several types of lack of bladder control in cats. 

Paradoxical Incontinence

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.  

Overflow Incontinence

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 more common problem for felines that have given birth, are pregnant, or have reached a mature age. Even in these cats, it is a rare condition.

Urge Incontinence

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, urinary crystals, urinary stones in felines.  It is often associated with frequent urination and blood in the urine.

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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 infections
  • Yeast infections (very rare)
  • Uroliths (bladder stones) 
  • A urethral plug
  • Trauma 
  • A mass causing pressure on the bladder
  • Nerve damage 
  • Lesions surrounding the brain or spinal cord, preventing signals from reaching the bladder from the brain. 
  • Ectopic ureter (a birth defect)
  • Kidney disease
  • Manx syndrome in Manx cats
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Weaker muscles, which are more common in older females who have given birth
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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 to assess 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 
  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • Biopsy 
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Treatment of Lack of Bladder Control in Cats

The treatment of lack of bladder control in cats will depend on the underlying condition. 

Bladder Infections

In the case of urinary incontinence caused by an infection, your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic and anti-inflammatories, as well as a prescription diet and bladder supplements.

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 work in the case of certain stones.

Mass

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.  

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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 and a better quality of life. Frequent check-ups should be expected with the veterinarian to ensure the prescribed treatment is proving to be effective. 

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Lack of Bladder Control Average Cost

From 420 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$500

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Lack of Bladder Control Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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cat

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Nine Months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

My cat suddenly can not find his balance and he can’t walk without stumbling. Also he can no long stand long enough for him to use his litter box. Today my husband found him laying in our restroom in a puddle of his own urine. When we adopted him we noticed that he was a little blind in his right eye but was fine for the most part. Just recently he has started with his off balance, he is constantly moving his head side to side and now the incompetence.

Dec. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello, so sorry to hear about your cat. There are many reasons he may be acting like this. I would be best for him to see a vet. Neurological issues in young cats can be due to a virus, bacteria or something else. You vet can examine him and run some test to see exactly what is causing these issues. I hope your cat starts to improve soon.

Dec. 3, 2020

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Domestic shorthair

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Eighteen Years

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Urinating Outside Litterbox

My cat is 18 years old, was diagnosed with diabetes 11 years ago and possible kidney disease (early stage) 5 months ago. She is also almost blind due to cataracts. Just today she started having accidents of dribbling pee before she made it to the litter box. Is this a possible UTI? Or related to her other medical issues?

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. While the signs that you are describing are not uncommon with both diabetes and kidney disease, those diseases can also predispose her to infections, and since it seems to have come on sort of suddenly, I would be suspicious of a UTI. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Lack of Bladder Control Average Cost

From 420 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$500

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

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