Kitten in litter box looking up at camera

Key takeaway

Frequent cat urination can be caused by several health issues, including UTIs and bladder infections, kidney disease, and more. Cat frequent urination may indicate signs of a serious illness, so it's important to know the different diseases that can impact your pet's urinary habits.

Having an indoor cat means they are lucky enough to go potty indoors. As a pet parent, you know everything there is to know about your animal companion, so when they're urinating more than usual, it might signal a red flag to you. Observing your cat's potty habits can help you catch health concerns before they worsen by letting you know something just isn't right. Since your cat uses a litter box, you can easily monitor their urinary habits and whether they’re urinating more or less frequently.

If your cat is urinating more, it could be because they're drinking more water on a hot day, or urinating more frequently could indicate an underlying medical issue. This article will answer your question about why your cat might be urinating more frequently and tell you about common cat urinary problems. Let's get started. 

Infectious Diseases That Can Lead To Frequent Urination In Cats

If your cat is peeing a lot more than usual and has accidents outside of the litter box, it could indicate an infectious disease. Infectious diseases are treatable, and many cats live full, healthy lives dealing with infectious diseases as long as they are properly cared for. Unfortunately, you can't determine which infectious disease your cat might have based on the fact they're frequently urinating; there are a few different types of diseases that can cause cats to urinate a lot. Here are a few. 

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

UTIs are a common infection in cats, dogs, and even humans. These infections are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract.1 As a result of the irritation caused by your cat's infection, their bodies will try to urinate more often to eliminate the bacteria. If you notice your cat attempting to pee more often in their litter box, but only a little comes out, they may have a UTI. 

Graphic listing UTI symptoms, causes, treatment

Symptoms

There are many symptoms of a UTI, but some cats don't show any until it's a serious, painful problem1. If your cat isn't as social as you'd like them to be, it's still your responsibility as a pet owner to know when something might not be right with them. Noticeable symptoms of UTIs include:

  • Problems Urinating: If your cat is trying to urinate frequently but nothing is coming out, or if they are straining, it might mean they are experiencing inflammation. Additionally, their body might be reacting to the bacteria and forcing them to need to go potty more often, even if there's nothing coming out. 
  • Frequent Urination: If your cat is drinking enough water, you might notice they're urinating more frequently or at least trying to. If your cat has an infection, it could be difficult for them to urinate because of the pain.
  • Pain: UTIs are painful, and they can be painful even when your cat isn't trying to use the litter box. However, urinating is incredibly painful for cats with UTIs. Even if your cat is able to get urine out, check their body language to determine if they're in any sort of pain or discomfort. Your cat might also be showing signs of pain if they're licking their genitals, which is how they try to ease their pain in the animal kingdom. Your cat may also make noises or sudden screams that will let you know if they're in pain. They might make loud sounds if they're urinating or licking themselves. 
  • Blood in the Urine: If your cat is urinating blood, it's a sign that something is seriously wrong. A healthy cat's pee never has red or orange in it. Female cats are more likely to have blood in their urine than male cats, but it can happen to any cat. 
  • Accidents: Indoor cats use litter boxes, so they always go to the bathroom inside. However, if your cat is going potty outside the litter box, it could indicate a UTI because your cat might have the urge to urinate and not be able to hold it in long enough to get to the litter box. 

Causes

As we've discussed, UTIs are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract. These infections typically occur more frequently in older cats because they might be more susceptible to infection due to their age.1 UTIs can also be caused by an underlying disease, such as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), which we'll get into later. 

While several different types of bacteria can cause a UTI, one common type of bacteria is the same found in feces. If your cat has diarrhea, make sure to wipe them off so the bacteria can't find its way into the urinary tract. 

Treatment

You should never try to treat your cat's UTI at home without the recommendations of a licensed vet. The first step to treating a UTI in cats is to increase their water consumption to help urinate out the bacteria. Your cat may try to stop drinking water to avoid urination if it's painful, but that can lead to dehydration in cats, which can cause even more problems. Your vet might also prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection. If you believe your cat has a UTI, don't wait to get treatment. UTIs can lead to kidney infections if not treated properly. 

Graphic listing symptoms, causes, treatments of kidney infection in cats

Kidney Infection

A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is caused by bacteria in the urinary tract that goes through the bladder and into the kidneys.2 It is most commonly caused by a bladder infection or UTI that went untreated or was treated improperly. However, it can also be caused by kidney stones or stones in the ureter. Kidney infections are common in young kittens and old cats with compromised or weak immune systems or kidney problems. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of kidney infections include pain around the sides near the kidneys, fever, and overall sickness. If your cat doesn't let you touch their sides anymore, it could indicate their kidneys hurt. Other signs of kidney infection in cats might include excessive thirst, which leads to increased urination. Like with UTIs and bladder infections, some cats might not show any symptoms until later in the process, and kidney failure might have already started. 2

Causes

Kidney infections are typically caused by bacteria that have made their way into the kidneys. It's similar to bladder infections; only it impacts the kidneys. Kidney infections can also be caused by stones, which can stop urine from coming out of the urethra. Unfortunately, your vet might not be able to determine what caused a kidney infection if your cat doesn't have bacteria or stones because it can also be caused by weak immune systems or bad kidneys.2

Treatment

Kidney infections are treated with antibiotics for 4-8 weeks.2 Some vets might also give your cat fluids to flush out the bacteria. Your vet will also schedule check-ups to test your cat's urine throughout the treatment process to make sure it's working. When taking care of your pet at home, it's important to follow your vet's instructions because kidney infections can be life-threatening when not treated properly. 

Noninfectious Diseases That Can Lead To Frequent Urination In Cats

While there are several infectious diseases that cause frequent urination in cats, there are also noninfectious diseases that are not contagious and are not caused by bacteria. It's important to remember that you are your cat's owner, and you know them best. If you notice them drinking more water or urinating more frequently, schedule an appointment with your local vet to determine the cause. Here are noninfectious diseases that might lead to frequent urination. 

Kidney Disease

Your cat's kidneys function the same way yours do; they remove waste from the blood to ensure optimal health. Kidney disease can damage the kidneys, making them unable to function, and your cat could get sick or potentially die.3 Kidney disease may start with no symptoms at all for many years, and there's nothing a vet can do to treat kidney damage. It's important to know the signs of kidney disease so your cat can continue to live a long, happy life. 

Stages of kidney diseases with correlating symptoms

Symptoms

Azotemia is a buildup of toxins caused by poor blood filtering.3 In the first stage of kidney disease, the kidneys become damaged, but azotemia hasn't developed, and your cat will likely not show any symptoms, and you likely won't notice a change in your cat's urination habits, so you won't end up taking them to the vet. Unfortunately, even though stage one shows no visible symptoms, it is the stage with the greatest chances of treatment success. 

In the next stage, the kidneys begin filtering waste from the blood slowly, and a buildup of toxins will occur, but your cat might still not show any signs. However, one sign you might notice is increased urination. During stage three, your cat will develop signs of the illness. However,  stage four will come with higher levels of waste accumulation in the blood.3 By stages three and four, your cat might show signs of illness, including more frequent urination as the body tries to remove toxins that are built up in the blood. 

Causes

Kidney disease might be caused by a birth abnormality or a problem inherited from your cat's parents. However, some breeds are more likely to have chronic kidney disease, but in many cases, kidney disease is caused by old age and affects up to 35% of elderly cats.3 

Kidney diseases caused by old age affects up to 35% of cats

More common causes of kidney disease include underlying circulatory diseases, such as high blood pressure, or other kidney diseases, including tumors. Kidney injuries might also cause kidney disease because it scars the kidneys, and those scars could get worse over time.

Treatment

Cats with kidney disease can survive for years with the disease, but only with proper treatment. The treatment depends on the stage of the disease your cat is in, and a veterinarian must first identify and treat complications, such as UTIs.

Your vet will likely recommend getting your cat to drink water and eat food normally, and cats with kidney disease will need to see their vets more frequently if there are recurring problems.3

Graphic listing symptoms, causes, treatments of FLTUD

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD is a disease that occurs in your cat's lower urinary tract and describes conditions that can affect the urinary tract of cats. 

Symptoms

The first signs of FLUTD in cats are frequent urination, bloody urine, and painful urination, similar to UTIs and bladder infections. Additionally, cats may lick themselves excessively to try to quell their pain.3 They may also lie down on cool surfaces as the pain associated with FLUTD might be similar to a burning sensation or pins and needles. 

Causes

The cause of FLUTD is unknown, but cats with FLUTD might experience recurring infections throughout their lives. Additionally, factors such as anxiety in cats, hormones, diet, and genetics might be indicators of FLUTD.3 

Treatment

When the cause of a condition is unknown, treatment can be difficult. A vet will try to reduce the severity and frequency of recurring episodes. Your vet will prescribe medications to ease your cat's pain and find ways to reduce stress, which might be a factor.3 

Like with any illness affecting your cat's urinary tract, you should always ensure they have fresh, clean water, so they can flush out the infection. 

Obstructions To The Urinary Tract

Obstructions are different from your cat getting something stuck in their urinary tract, as this is uncommon. Instead, natural mineral obstructions can combine to form small crystals or stones in your cat's urinary tract. These stones can develop anywhere in the system, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.4

Cats with small stones may not show signs of pain or illness. However, the larger the stones get, they may start interfering with the natural flow of your cat's urine. Symptoms of stones include blood in the urine, painful urine,  or more frequent urination as your cat's body attempts to remove the obstruction.4

Another type of obstruction in the urinary tract can be caused by tumors, which can occur throughout the entire urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys. Luckily, tumors in the bladder are rare in cats.5 In any case, depending on the location of a tumor, it could block your pet from being able to urinate properly and cause pain, bloody urine, and more frequent urination. 

If your cat has an obstruction to the urinary tract, it can only be identified by a vet who will perform tests to determine what the obstruction is and how to treat it. Urinary tract obstructions are a medical emergency, and your pet can die within 24-48 hours of a urinary tract obstruction occurring if it is not treated quickly. Please take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect they have a urinary tract obstruction.

Cat sitting in owner's lap, attending virtual vet appointment

Final Notes

Your cat can be urinating more frequently for several reasons, some of which are life-threatening while others are not. For example, hyperthyroidism in cats is a common disease that can lead to more frequent urination due to increased thirst. Additionally, something as simple as a hot summer day can lead your cat to drink more water, which will make them naturally produce more urine. Of course, if your cat is experiencing pain while urinating or any of the symptoms of any of the diseases listed here, talk to a vet immediately. Before you can start treating your cat's symptoms at home, you'll need to have them diagnosed by a veterinarian, who can give you medication and recommendations for caring for your cat. 

Dutch offers telemedicine for pets, and you'll have access to quality, licensed veterinarians who can help you treat your pet's illnesses and uncover reasons why they might be urinating more frequently.

References

  1. Dowling, Patricia M. “Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections - Pharmacology.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/pharmacology/systemic-pharmacotherapeutics-of-the-urinary-system/bacterial-urinary-tract-infections.

  2. Brown, Scott A. “Infectious Diseases of the Urinary System of Cats - Cat Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/kidney-and-urinary-tract-disorders-of-cats/infectious-diseases-of-the-urinary-system-of-cats.

  3. Brown, Scott A. “Noninfectious Diseases of the Urinary System of Cats - Cat Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/kidney-and-urinary-tract-disorders-of-cats/noninfectious-diseases-of-the-urinary-system-of-cats.

  4. Brown, Scott A. “Urinary Stones (Uroliths, Calculi) in Cats - Cat Owners.” MSD Veterinary Manual, MSD Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.msdvetmanual.com/cat-owners/kidney-and-urinary-tract-disorders-of-cats/urinary-stones-uroliths,-calculi-in-cats.

  5. Capasso, Angelo, et al. “Fibrosarcoma of the Urinary Bladder in a Cat.” JFMS Open Reports, SAGE Publications, 12 June 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5362888/#:~:text=In%20cats%20and%20dogs%2C%20urinary,(TCC)%20the%20most%20common.