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Blood in cat urine: cause and treatment

Grey cat peeing by a tree advice
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If you see blood in your cat’s urine don’t panic! Haematuria is commonly seen in cats and in most cases is due to conditions which are treatable

By Nick Whittle

The commonest cause for a cat to have blood in its urine is a condition called cystitis.  We will come on to this condition in a moment but suffice to say it is not life-threatening and responds well to treatment. 

Blood in urine is often only visible at a microscopic level but sometimes it is seen with the naked eye, and its presence gives rise for concern. The visible urine of a cat with haematuria is coloured pink, red or brown. 

It is only at a cellular level that the cause of blood in urine can be determined. Therefore in order for a vet to say for certain what is causing the blood in your cat’s urine they must do further checks and send the blood off for analysis. 

Before we talk about the commonest cause of blood in your cat’s urine here are some other conditions and diseases that may be at play:  

  • Disorder of clotting mechanism of the blood
  • Urinary tract infection 
  • Kidney disease and kidney stones
  • Cancer
  • Trauma
  • Bladder malformations 
  • Heat cycle (oestrus)
  • Metabolic disorders 

Blood in the urine may indicate a serious underlying disease. ‘Familial haematuria’ is usually seen of kittens: blood seen in the urine of kittens suggests the kitten has some genetic abnormality. 

Cats that are receiving chemotherapy treatments for some cancers may also have blood in their urine. 

What is cystitis? 

Cystitis is a term to describe an inflammation of the bladder. Cystitis in cats is very common. It causes your cat a great deal of discomfort and pain but is thankfully easily treated with anti-inflammatory medication. 

Cystitis is more common in younger cats. As cats get older they are less prone to the condition. It develops by a different process from something like bladder stones or urinary tract infections, but cystitis can often bring about the same symptoms. One of these symptoms is blood in the cat’s urine. 

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

Any condition that is seen of the urinary tract or bladder should be treated as soon as possible. Once you are certain that your cat has blood in his urine you should waste no time and contact a vet. 

Both conditions require medical intervention but where cystitis is treated by administration of anti-inflammatories a urinary tract infection is treated with antibiotics. Urinary tract infections if left untreated do not tend to get better on their own (or with minimal intervention) and can drastically affect the health of the cat. 

Video: © Roaie. YouTube

The symptoms of cystitis are as follows: 

  • Straining to urinate
  • Bloody urine 
  • Weeing in unusual places and more often
  • Licking the urinary opening

What are the causes of cystitis?

Cat cystitis is often classed as idiopathic; in other words there is often no reason for your cat to get it. However, a high degree of stress or agitation is thought to be a significant cause in many causes of cystitis in cats. If stress is the reason for your cat’s bout of cystitis you should take heed and try to improve his environment. There are lots of ways you can do that. 

How will the cause of blood in your cat’s urine be diagnosed?

Because blood in cat urine can suggest other nasty diseases any tests of the cause are thorough. Reagent strip tests are designed to identify all manner of biological matter in your cat’s urine such as haemoglobin and protein. Determining the reason for the presence of blood is facilitated by this method of test. 

Urinalysis also reveals ‘hidden’ diseases of your cat that have not brought about any obvious symptoms and were therefore undetected. 

Your vet may ask you about the sort of diet your cat is having. Some cat supplements and homespun remedies may impact upon the animal’s kidneys and cause blood in his urine. In addition, some supplements are thought to mask the readings of the reagent strip tests. 

Treatment of blood in your cat’s urine

Blood in the urine is commonly a recurring theme for some cats, especially those with a weak immune system. Because blood in cat urine is not in itself a disease any treatment the cat must undergo is of the underlying cause. By their various means the vet will have determined the cause and will recommend a course of treatment. 

  • If cystitis is the cause then an anti-inflammatory medicine is prescribed. Your vet may also recommend your trying to get the cat to drink more water. 
  • If a urinary tract infection is the cause then an antibiotic medicine is prescribed. Again the cat should be encouraged to up his fluid intake. 

If a cat is found to have more acute problems (such as bladder stones or an internal trauma) surgery may be suggested. Similarly, if the problem is due to a more serious disease such as cancer the vet will recommend putting in place a course of treatments accordingly. 

Conditions such as cystitis are very difficult to prevent because they tend to appear for no reason. They can therefore only be cured when they occur. However, conditions of the urinary tract are often linked to chronic dehydration and obesity. A cat that is either short on water or very large will be more prone to developing nasty bacterial and fungal infections of their urinary tracts. Obesity in particular is an owner-led condition that can easily be remedied with strict diet and more exercise. 

Try to keep your cat’s toilet tray as clean and as hygienic as possible. There is much you can do as your cat’s owner to prevent him from contracting conditions such as cystitis. You may also consider discussing with your vet a diet regimen for your cat specifically designed to ward of germs.