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What is Painful and Frequent Urination?

Painful and frequent urination can have a variety of causes from infections in the bladder to complications in the genitals. When you notice the signs of frequent urination with discomfort, it is important to contact a veterinarian for an evaluation.

Difficult or painful urination is commonly referred to as dysuria. It can be demonstrated by your cat exhibiting signs of discomfort while urinating, straining to go, or even by frequent urination. Frequent urination, otherwise known as pollakiuria, can sometimes be difficult to identify, as some cats may normally urinate more or less than others. It is important to understand what is normal for your cat, just as it is important to discern the difference of discomfort while urinating versus signs of constipation.

Symptoms of Painful and Frequent Urination in Cats

The signs of both painful and frequent urination can sometimes be tough to separate from other conditions, such as constipation. The list below should aid in determining whether or not your cat may be suffering from dysuria and pollakiuria:

  • Straining to urinate/signs of pain
  • Blood in urine
  • Passing only a small amount of urine
  • Unproductive urination (e.g. failure to urinate)
  • Signs of illness (e.g. fever, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea)
  • Inappropriate urinating (e.g. accidents around the house)

Causes of Painful and Frequent Urination in Cats

There are a number of conditions that can cause dysuria and pollakiuria, and they can be found in the genitals, bladder and urethra, or prostate. 


  • Cancer
  • Inflammation of vagina (vaginitis)
  • Foreign bodies in the genitals
  • Inability to retract penis into its sheath (paraphimosis)


  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Cancer
  • Masses/tumors
  • Trauma
  • Bladder stones
  • Stone in urethra
  • Inflammation of urethra (urethritis)
  • Stricture (narrowed area in urogenital tract)


  • Inflammation (prostatitis)
  • Cysts
  • Abscesses
  • Cancer

Diagnosis of Painful and Frequent Urination in Cats

To determine if your cat has a urinary complication, your vet will perform a complete and thorough evaluation. During a physical examination, a vet will check to see if your cat has an obstruction. A complete obstruction in the urinary tract is a medical emergency and should be treated promptly. To notice an obstruction, your vet will check to see if the bladder is distended and work from there.

After a physical examination as well as collecting a history of your cat's health, the vet will move onto diagnostic testing. A urinalysis is highly important in diagnosing a urinary problem. It can detect signs of urinary tract inflammation by counting the white blood cells and protein. Also, a urinalysis can identify crystals, which can help diagnose bladder stones.

A complete blood count (CBC) and biochemical profile will be completed as well. Infections and abscesses can sometimes significantly change white blood cells count. Furthermore, kidney and electrolyte status should be monitored in the event of an obstruction.

Abdominal X-rays can detect the presence of stones and tumors. Also, your vet may recommend an ultrasound. It can allow the vet to examine the kidneys, bladder, proximal urethra. This non-invasive test can easily detect stones, prostatic diseases, and tumors.

Treatment of Painful and Frequent Urination in Cats

Your vet will discuss in length the proper treatment plan once an exact cause has been diagnosed. Each plan should be followed as given, and your cat should be monitored to ensure proper care is being received.


In the case of further illness such as kidney infection or failure, your cat may be hospitalized pending and during treatment. If this is the case, your cat may undergo IV (intravenous) fluid and electrolyte therapy to provide supportive care.


Sometimes, surgery may be required to remove stones and tumors found within the bladder or urethra.


Anti-inflammatory medication can be administered to help with inflammatory disorders. In the case of infections, antibiotics may be given. Also, some chemotherapy drugs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can assist in the removal of tumors that cannot be operated on.

Recovery of Painful and Frequent Urination in Cats

It is important to follow the treatment plan laid out by your vet in order for your cat to truly recover. Any medication that has been prescribed should be taken for the amount of time instructed, especially in the case of antibiotics to treat an infection. Stopping medication before recommended can cause an infection to return, and even cause your cat to build up an immunity to the antibiotics.

You should also observe your cat's urination closely following treatment to make sure urine is being passed properly and without complications. Your cat should drink plenty of water, and be given every chance to urinate in the proper places (litter box). Also, the cat's attitude, from appetite to activity level, should be monitored closely as well.

To help prevent painful or frequent urination from occurring, make sure your cat is provided with adequate water and that litter boxes are always kept clean. Also, encourage activity and exercise to help your cat maintain a healthy weight. If dysuria, pollakiuria, or both do not improve with treatment, it is important to contact your vet immediately.

Painful and Frequent Urination Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Siamese cat
7 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

always tired
Walks low on the ground
Often drags herself around
Rarely grooms herself
Inconsistent appetite
Doesn't use the litter box
Seems to sometimes have seizures
Doesn't drink consistently

My cat underwent surgery when she couldn't give birth normally last October. I don't think she fully recovered. She walks low on the ground and pees and poops every where. Everytime someone touches her belly she would meow. She often sleeps and would sometimes eat heavy and sometimes not at all. Including drinking. She rarely grooms herself. Sometimes it would also look likes she's having a seizure. She also has a cauliflower ear. What could be the problem?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
10 months would be a long time for Coco to still be having complications from her surgery, and it sounds like she needs to be examined by a veterinarian, as there may be other things going on. Not eating, sleeping more, and not grooming are not healthy behaviors, and if she is having seizures, there may be a systemic problem going on with her. A veterinarian will be able to examine her, see what is going on, and give you any recommendations for treatment for her. I hope that she is okay.

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2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

My male cat growls while urinating especially after mounting my female cat. He had a catheter for 1 week about a month and 10 days ago since he had a urinary blockage. I checked his bladder but it was empty. I also tried giving him anti-inflammatory pills that the doctor had prescribed when he had his catheter a couple of times for 3 days each time and has shown some improvement on it. why is he doing so ?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It is possible that Zaza’s urethra is still a little inflamed from having the catheter in for a week or he may have some issues with urinary stones etc… At a minimum you should get his urine checked by your Veterinarian just to look for any anomalies or crystals in there; without giving him a check I cannot say for certain, especially if the antiinflammatories are not helping. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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