February 2009 Issue

Is it Urinary Incontinence or Urine Marking?

Knowing the difference is important when implementing a strategy to help the situation.

When a cat begins soiling the house, it is usually assumed that it is a behavioral problem or the onset of senility. However, there are several medical conditions that can cause urinary incontinence and inappropriate urination, some of which require immediate treatment. First, it is important to distinguish between incontinence and inappropriate urination. True incontinence occurs when a cat does not have voluntary control over urination; trauma, a weak primary sphincter muscle and congenital abnormalities are the most common causes of incontinence. Inappropriate urination is much more common than true incontinence; this may be a behavioral problem or it may be the result of an underlying medical condition. The most common medical cause of inappropriate urination is inflammation of the urinary bladder. While the root causes often vary significantly, the signs called lower urinary tract signs or LUTS are similar: frequent urination, excessive licking of the genital area and difficult or painful urination. The actual diagnosis can range from a urinary tract infection to urethral blockage. It is extremely important to seek veterinary care if your cat exhibits these signs do not assume that the animal is simply constipated. If he is suffering from urethral blockage, he may lose consciousness and die within a day or two of complete blockage. On the other hand, it may turn out to be something as treatable as a urinary tract infection. To begin with, your veterinarian may ask several questions...

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