With temperatures outside beginning to steadily drop, we know better than anyone that the best antidote to wintertime chills is to pour some coffee, find a good book, and snuggle up with our cats for a purr-fect day inside.
But while you’re thrilled to have Puss inside with you providing much-needed kitty love, you may realize one day that you’re spending a lot more time scooping litter than normal.
And if you notice that they’re either at the litter box or coming back from the litter box every time you see them, you may find yourself wondering: “What the heck is going on?! Why is my cat peeing so much?!”
But, before we answer that question, we have to attempt to answer one thing first: how much is too much?
How Much Pee Should Cats Produce?
It’s an odd thing to consider, but every living thing with a bladder has a “normal” amount of urine that they produce in a given day. When an organism produces more urine than normal, this is called polyuria.
But how much urine should a cat be producing in a single day, anyway?
Well, according to a study conducted by Dr. Delmar R. Finco at the University of Georgia’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, the average cat produces somewhere between 10 and 20 milliliters per kilogram of body weight in a 24 hour period.
This is a little less than the amount proposed by conventional wisdom, which states that cats produce an average of 28 milliliters per kilogram of bodyweight every 24 hours. Using these figures, this means that a 10 pound cat should produce roughly between a quarter-cup and a half-cup of urine per day.
How Often Should Cats Pee?
However, unlike when we evaluate the amount of urine a cat should produce, there’s not necessarily a “normal” amount of times a cat should excuse themselves to go use the “little kitten’s room”.
The amount of water they tend to drink, the average amount of wet food they consume, the heat and humidity of the climate they live in, their size, their age, and so many other factors influence the average frequency with which they’ll tinkle.
With that in mind, it’s important for pet owners to have a rough idea of both how much their cat tends to drink in a day and how often they use their litter box. This is because you want to be able to quickly pick up on changes to your cat’s thirst patterns and subsequent urinary habits, as changes in either can be indicative of more serious underlying health concerns.
How To Measure a Cat’s Daily Water Intake
Measuring your cat’s daily water intake can offer clues as to whether or not they’re experiencing a sharp increase in thirst levels, otherwise known as polydipsia. For cats who drink from bowls, this can be done easily.
Pour a standard cup of water from a measuring cup (equivalent to roughly 237 millimeters) into their water dish at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day, pour the remaining water from their dish back into the measuring cup. You’ll want to see that your cat has consumed between 20 and 30 milliliters of water per pound of body weight throughout the day. Remember that the key word here is “consume” and not “drink”. Your cat is capable of filling their daily water intake needs through other sources such as wet food. Using the numbers above, a cat who weighs eight pounds may drink the entire cup of water throughout the day or leave up to one-third of it remaining, depending on if they got adequate hydration from other sources.
For cats who prefer to drink their water from running sources like a spigot, measuring their daily water intake becomes a bit more challenging. You may have to rely on just keeping an eye on them throughout the day and trying to compare how often they’re drinking from the tap against how often they’d normally do that. If it seems like they’re climbing up to the kitchen counter every time you look at them, they may be over-hydrating and there may be an underlying cause.
How to Measure a Cat’s Daily Urine Production
Measuring your cat’s daily urine production relies less on precise measurement and more on your familiarity with your cat’s average urine clumps in their litter box. Next time you go to scoop your cat’s litter, you’ll want to evaluate all the…. stuff that they left you (yuck) for size, weight, and number.
If any of these factors present in significantly different ways than you’d expect – such as the clumps feeling much heavier than normal, there being less clumps than normal, etc – this may indicate that there have been changes to how much urine your cat is producing.
What Medical Conditions Cause Excessive Urination in Cats?
Just like with humans, the amount that cats pee and the frequency with which they pee can be affected by a variety of health conditions or disorders. In most instances, excessive urination in cats is a product of their body having a difficult time regulating urine formation and expulsion. This can be caused by a number of medical conditions that range in severity and seriousness.
For some cats, excessive urination is caused by a condition known as hypterthyroidism. This is caused by their thyroid glands, located around their neck, producing an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Normally they help regulate your cat’s normal bodily processes. However, an excessive production of thyroid hormones can increase your cat’s metabolism and begin to negatively affect the function of critical organs including the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
When the kidneys become impacted by hyperthyroidism, they can begin to have difficulty concentrating urine. This results in the kidneys flushing water out of the system with greater frequency, which leads to a subsequent increase in thirst levels to compensate for the lost hydration.
Diabetes is a most common medical condition in humans and cats alike that deals with the body’s production of and response to insulin: a crucial hormone for regulating blood sugar levels. There are two types of diabetes: Type-1 and Type-2. Type-1 diabetics are afflicted by a pancreas that is incapable of producing an adequate amount of insulin. Type-2 diabetics, on the other hand, have bodies that do not naturally respond to insulin.
In both cases, the lack of insulin response in the body poses an enormous amount of work for the kidneys to process the excess sugar. As a result, the leftover glucose that the kidneys couldn’t process is siphoned out of the body through urine. Unfortunately, this also leads to the loss of other valuable, hydrating fluids. This can create a vicious cycle where diabetic cats begin to urinate more only to feel more progressively more parched, followed by more and more frequent urination.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats is a self-explanatory condition: it’s the gradual decline in kidney function over the course of a cat’s life. This is a very serious medical condition, as kidneys carry the responsibilities of filtering the blood, eliminating waste, balancing electrolytes, producing certain hormones, and maintaining the balance of water within the body. When they begin to break down, the effectiveness of these vital functions decreases as well.
And while it primarily affects older cats, cats of any age can be affected by CKD in either or both of their kidneys. Cats can begin to present a variety of clinical signs of CKD as the disease progresses. They may begin to appear lethargic, unkempt, or thinner as waste products and other compounds continue to accumulate in the bloodstream. More relevant to the current discussion is the increased urination that CKD can cause. Besides increasing the amount you spend on cat litter, excessive urination can cause your feline friend to miss out on several important vitamins and minerals that are present in their pee.
Urinary Tract Disorders
Dr. Arnon Gal, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Urbana, notes that urinary tract disorders like feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) are a very common problem in cats. Cats who are frequently voiding small amounts of pee may be suffering from some form of inflammation or infection of their urinary tract. In some cases, this may be caused by certain microorganisms which induce the stimulation of muscle fibers in their urinary tract and force those structures to contract, leading to inflammation. According to Dr. Gal, however, urinary tract infections in cats tend to be stress-induced.
You should treat cases where your cat is attempting and seemingly failing to adequately dispense urine as a medical emergency. If your cat is straining or even just visibly uncomfortable while using the restroom, take them to get evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Okay, you got us. Bladder stones do the exact opposite of make your cat pee excessively, but they’re still an important medical complication that you need to be made aware of. And, hey, they still affect how your cat pees. So we’re not too far off topic!
A bladder stone, or bladder blockage, is a hard, rock-like crystal that can get caught in the neck of your cat’s bladder. They’re the product of certain minerals crystallizing and getting stuck together with mucus that it interacts with as they move through your cat’s body. For some cats, developing bladder stones only takes a few weeks, while other cats’ bodies may take months to form them. The exact cause of bladder stone development is dependent on a number of factors including the pH of your cat’s urine, the presence of certain proteins within the urine, and the concentration of water in their urine
Regardless of why or how fast they formed, a blockage like this is a medical emergency. Stones and blockages can lead to your cat’s bladder becoming distended and eventually their kidneys may begin to fail. If you see blood in your cat’s urine or you witness them straining to urinate, get them to a veterinarian to be checked out right away.
How to Treat Excessive Urination in Cats
Excessive urination in cats must be treated on a case-by-case basis, with the exact course of treatment depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Any changes you notice in your cat’s urination habits should be immediately investigated by a veterinarian.
Once you get to the vet’s office, they’ll begin a thorough physical examination. During this exam, your veterinarian will ask you a bunch of questions to better understand your cat’s diet, activity levels, behaviors, habits, thirst, and general lifestyle. Your vet will also check your cat’s body to look for signs of any physical deformity or abnormality. Additionally, they’ll want to check your cat’s body condition and muscle condition to look for signs of proper weight control and muscular maintenance. Your vet may also order labs such as a urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC), biochemical screen, or a urine culture to uncover any hidden causes of your cat’s inappropriate urination.
A complete blood count will check for signs of infection or inflammation by evaluating your cat’s blood chemistry, while a biochemical screen will attempt to determine how well your cat’s organs are functioning. The urinalysis lab will offer an in-depth look at your cat’s kidney’s ability to concentrate urine and will help your vet determine if an underlying kidney infection is to blame. Finally, the urine culture will allow your vet to rule out an underlying bacterial infection in your cat’s urinary tract. Any underlying conditions that are determined to be causing changes in your cat’s urinary behaviors will dictate the recommended treatment plan.
A cat with a urinary tract infection may be prescribed an antibiotic to rid its body of all microorganisms. Other medications may be prescribed in conjunction with antibiotics for pain or inflammation management. Your vet may also recommend that you give your cat more wet food to increase their daily water intake. They might also recommend that you think of ways to keep your cat’s stress levels low, such as by giving them more head scratches!
Bladder stones, on other hand, may require more invasive treatment such as surgery in order to remove any obstructions. Your vet may follow up surgical procedures with a specialty, recovery-focused diet that’ll help ensure your kitty won’t have to deal with bladder stones again. Some cats are lucky enough to find relief from bladder stones by having a catheter passed through their urethra… though we’re not sure if “lucky” is the most apt word, come to think of it.
A condition that will require a much more long-term treatment plan is diabetes. Just like with humans, a diabetes diagnosis necessitates a concoction of simultaneous treatment components including medications, diet modifications, increased exercise levels, and emotional support. The goal in an effective diabetes treatment plan should be to manage your cat’s blood sugar levels and increase their cells’ utilization of glucose with daily injections of insulin.
However, the ideal treatment plan for a number of potential diseases, such as chronic kidney disease, must be tailored for the extent of the disease and its cause. Cats whose kidneys are only slightly damaged as a result of an infection, for example, should be able to avoid any long-term damage by completing an antibiotics course. Additionally, some cats may find relief by taking medications that balance out low potassium levels or high calcium levels in their blood. On the other hand, cats with advanced stages of the disease may have to switch to a kidney-friendly diet, take anti-nausea medications, or even consider kidney transplantation.
A cat whose excessive urination is caused by hyperthyroidism has a number of treatment options at their disposal. Daily antithyroid medication, such as Methimazole, works to inhibit the formation and coupling of iodotyrosine in thyroglobulin and reduce thyroid hormone production levels over a course of two months. Unfortunately, somewhere between 10% and 15% of cats who take this sort of medication may experience a host of unpleasant side effects including loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Some cats with hyperthyroidism may even undergo surgery to remove the thyroid gland if it’s found that a tumor is causing their thyroid troubles. Luckily, most cats who undergo this procedure have few complications.
Regardless of what’s causing them to rush to the litter box so often, one thing is for sure: you need to take them to a veterinarian if you want them to get better.
And you should visit our cat page to stay up-to-date with information on how to keep your pointy-eared friends happy and healthy!