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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 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. 

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. 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 common problem for felines that have given birth, are pregnant, or have reached a mature age. 

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, yeast infections, hematuria, dysuria and pollakiuria in felines.  

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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 or yeast infections
  • Uroliths (bladder stones) 
  • A urethral plug
  • Old age 
  • Giving birth 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Cysts 
  • Trauma 
  • 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)
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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 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 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.

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 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. 

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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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Ask a Vet

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Domestic shorthair

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Eighteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 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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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. 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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Idk

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One Year one month

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Urinating In House

Cant control his bladder He doesn't pee in his litter box And whenever we try to touch him around his belly his just hisses

Sept. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Male cats are somewhat prone to urinary tract problems and blockages. He may be showing signs of an early urinary tract infection or inflammation, and those can worsen very quickly to the point where they cannot urinate. It would be best to have your cat seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian so that they can analyze his urine and see what might be going on with him before it becomes an emergency. I hope that he feels better soon and everything goes well for him.

Sept. 8, 2020

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Jessi

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domestic short hair

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16 Years

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Serious severity

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4 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Straining To Urinate

My girl is almost 16,5 weeks ago she started displaying signs of uti, so I had a trip to the vets,the felt abdomen and said she had idiopathic cystitis, she was given 2 injections, pain killer and anti inflammatory, a course of pills for 5 days. We do the course and nothing changed, still dribbles and constantly in and out the tray and licking. I wasn't happy so called the vet back, they said they didn't feel she needed further medical treatment and maybe change diet to a urine care by hills. A few days later she stopped pooping she would strain but nothing was produced as well as constantly still trying to pee. I again ring vets and make another appointment, again a feel of abdomen and a diagnosis of idiopathic cystitis, I was given loxicom and some stool softner. Told only to give the anti inflammatory with food as it can make them ill. We had this for a week, now she had stopped eating and just picking the jelly off food, she also stopped drinking. Things were not improving after finishing the course, so they suggested an ultrasound of bladder and full blood work, I just Want this sorted for her. I'm preparing myself for the worse with her age, but ultrasound and bloods came back clear, just shown a thickened bladder lining. I go to pick her up, she did a pee in the carrier, but as soon as we get home she is back to going in and out the tray and producing a dribble. By now I'm stressed as she still doesn't seem to be drinking.im adding water to wet food which is still being left. This past weekend she stopped peeing altogether and started to pee a few drops on the bed, she was also now squatting wherever and trying to pee but doing nothing. They ask me to get a urine sample as it's the one thing not tested, but now she's not peeing at all,so they take her in, as she had a uterine tumour a few years back they want to do a full xray and get a pee sample, again xray clear no masses no blockages as she had peed while under sedation, urine sent to lab,another pain killer given and another course of loxicom, we get home and she instantly goes to tray but does no pee, we can't figure whether now it's psychological, all night she didn't urinate so vet wanted her back today. They press her bladder and she pees over the table a stream, they say her bladder feels less imflamed than yesterday when it was like a rock, vet seemed concerned she had a floppy tail as she just wasn't moving it just drooped down, so they Test for reaction by squeezing parts, and yes she has feeling in it. Another pain killing injection and to update tomorrow, I also get given some hills veterinary and purina urine foods to try, I get home and again she is trying to wee and nothing comes. Have tried to think what triggered this but just can't as nothing changed, the other cats have are 3 yrs old so nothing changed there, have bought a plug in to see if that alters things as I'm all out of ideas only option now is to put her in a room alone with the plug in to see if she stops stressing away from the other 2 cats. I just don't know what else I can do

Sept. 5, 2018

Jessi's Owner

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Rascal

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Taby

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

My cat rascal is an 8 yr. Old Male we have been fight with his health the last couple of weeks. He had lost wieght and his nose is always running so we took him to the vet. After they worked him and put him on an antibiotic he stopped eating so we took him in again.had him tested for cancer and he was clean. They pumped him full of more meds and sent more antibiotics home. He finally started to eat. This morning I woke to him having urinated all over my bed.

Sept. 2, 2018

Rascal's Owner

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Gypsy

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Ragdoll

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Peeing Randomly

Starting last night my 13 year old cat has started peeing in the kitchen, several places, several times. It's almost like she can't control it, because she peed on the dinning room chair as well like she was sitting there and it came out. She has never done this!

Aug. 23, 2018

Gypsy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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It would be a good idea to have Gypsy seen by a veterinarian, and have some basic lab work done for her. She may have a problem with her urinary tract, or there may be something going on that is making her urinate more. A veterinarian will be able to look at her, analyze any testing that needs to be done, and give you an idea as to what needs to be done for her.

Aug. 23, 2018

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Sally boo

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Tuxedo cat

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6 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Urinating Outside Litterbox

We rescued a senior cat and later found out she has kidney disease. We have been able to keep her relatively healthy despite the kidney disease. It has been 4 years now and she has now been urinating on herself constantly. And lately she has not been able to hold her bowels. My vet has checked her multiple times but has no answers for the urinating other than its just another symptom of kidney disease. The smell is a constant issue now, we are at a loss. Does anyone anyone solutions? We have tried medications, laser therapy and specialized food.

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Richie

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tabby

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Incontinence

Our cat has all of a sudden started urinating uncontrollably. He will stand in a trance like position. Then dribbles will come out. He then licks his private area erratically. He seems ok normally but this is out of character. He's around 4, desexed, and was a stray. We're very concerned as we have kept him vaccinated regularly, but now have realised he's 3-4 months overdue for his enteritis flu shots. We do live in an area however where he may have a tick, or, licked or bitten a cane toad as he did that last year this time.

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Inky

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Mostly siamese

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13 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Urinates While Sleeping

Our one-year-old male rescue cat loses control of his bladder while sleeping. We noticed that when he starts twitching (while he’s dreaming?) he will urinate wherever he is. While awake, he always goes to the litter box. At first this was happening about once a month but now it’s more like once every three days. If we can wake him up as soon as he starts twitching we can stop the urine flow but it’s difficult to wake him. This incontinence seems strange in such a young cat.

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Sir Lazy M

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American Shorthair

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Incontinence
Urine Leakage

10 yr old neutered male cat had multiple seizures and is recovered now and currently taking phenobarbitol. He also had a UTI, which vet provided antibiotics. Urinalysis showed no additional bacteria. Cat still leaks urine on the pee pad, but will poop in the litter box.

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Black Cat

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I don’t know. Tuxedo cat

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

My cat, who is only 7, leaks urine while sleeping. Blood tests for infection were negative. The vet says it’s incontinence and I’m at a loss. This is a HUGE problem! Suggestions?? She won’t take the medication, even in wet food!

Lack of Bladder Control Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$500

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