7 Tips to Help Cats with Incontinence

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 11/10/20 •  10 min read
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A few years ago, when I was still in college an old boyfriend had a cat named Laya. She was about nine years old at that time. Laya, was the apple of his eye before he met me. I was not jealous because I love cats too. She was about 12 years old, when we separated. She was like my first baby. Sleep-eat-poo-pee, was her routine, just like babies ha! One day, she woke up like a different cat. She urinated multiple times on the floor before reaching her litter. And she pretty much did it the whole day. I felt so sorry for her. I did my own research online about cats with the same symptoms, and found out, she had cat urinary incontinence.

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What you may not realize is that this is a fairly common ailment that affects all cats but is more often an issue with senior cats. It doesn’t always mean that there is a disease or illness connected to it, either. Cats react to a lot of things going on in and around them that may appear to be a sickness of some kind. In order to properly tackle the situation, you need to do the following before taking action.

1. Identify the cause

Symptoms are not enough to determine the problem your cat is having. Though the most common signs include: urine leakage, excessive drinking, sleep apnea and skin inflammation. There are certain food and environmental factors that lead to this uncomfortable situation. First, check on the cat’s food. The sudden change of cat food or in addition to what they are used to, might be the culprit. Cats, like humans have different reactions to certain food. Observe your cat within 24 hours, and after every meal. You will realize really quickly how cat bladder control is difficult during that time. You will need cat diapers, to keep your furniture clean and to avoid accidents, when the floor is wet. Make sure to change the diaper as soon as it gets full. Laya had a reaction to a cat treat that we bought online. It was definitely a bad idea. What happened was not an isolated case, it was just a matter of identifying the cause and preventing it from happening again.

Washable diapers are a good alternative to avoid skin irritation that would add to the existing problem

2. Monitor food intake

We tend to spoil our pets, and sometimes we do not realize we over feed them. In this modern world, obesity is an epidemic not only for humans but for our pets too. Obviously, we want the best for them. They are family, but it does not mean we have to over feed them. According to studies, if your cat is 10 years or older they are prone to many diseases because their body does not digest food well. That is categorized as, senior cat incontinence. More so, bladder control on senior cats is very difficult.

Fortunately there are foods that are specially formulated to address the changing needs of your cat as it ages. From kitten food to adult food and senior food. There are also cat foods that contain the nutrients required to fight urinary tract infections, hair balls and most of the common ailments that a cat may encounter as it enters old age. Plus, veterinarians have access to cat foods that are of a better quality to address the special needs of a senior cat.

Make sure to feed your senior cat more fat and protein, as it is easy to digest. It will definitely help their digestive function. Supplement it with amino acids taurine and Vitamin A – in most cases this is sufficient to avoid senior cat incontinence. Laya, did gain weight in her senior years, her wet food intake was way more than the dry one. The changes we made was gradual, we cut down on her wet food. Eventually, she got used to it. The reality is, her energy was totally different during her younger years. That’s how life is!

3. Read the fine print

The issue is pretty common and finding a quick and easy fix for our cat suffering from incontinence is not always easy. We have to consider the side effects that would lead to complications or even worst. Antibiotics, and other medication, like Proin, which is a generic name for Phenylpropanolamine, is prescribed legally as an extra label drug, though it is not FDA approved. It is available in both tablet and liquid form and claims to tighten and strengthen the muscles surrounding the urethra, which is called sphincter muscles. As well as preventing leakage and urine dribbling. Same as other prescriptions, you have to read the fine print, and follow the required dosage to avoid overdose. Since, Proin is considered a stimulant, the cat may experience difficulty in urinating, rapid heartbeat, hypertension, and restlessness as adverse side effects.

Always remember to monitor your cat’s reaction to medication and schedule regular check up with your vet

4. Consider alternative treatments

Oftentimes, cats suffer from incontinence because their digestive tract is not built to stir up fiber. One of the known remedy is thru ingesting probiotics, also known as friendly bacteria, which restores the natural gut health and also aids in healing urinary tract and irritated bowel. There are also herbs, like, phytoestrogens extracts, and soy isoflavones which are natural supplements that remedy to the problem. Homeopathic remedy combined with grain-free, raw, dehydrated and freeze-dried diet are also proven to be a success in treating incontinence in cats.

Chinese herbs have anti-microbial properties that can be helpful in treating infections, as well as herbal tonics available over the counter to help in the cat’s urinary tract health. On the other hand, traditional veterinarian will do a urinalysis to thoroughly check the kind of bacteria present. An x-ray procedure can also be performed to check for bladder stones. Vets have a way different approach in treating cat’s incontinence. You do have an option to try both but don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian earlier rather later. Conventional treatment combined with natural alternatives can be the best way to treat cat incontinence. You may discover that you will have to try various combinations of the two before arriving at the perfect solution. It is vitally important at this point to carefully monitor what treatments are being used and the results. Do not be afraid to seek answers and possible solutions online. Just be sure to be able to verify the sources of the information you select as being credible.

5. Surgical procedure

It is common knowledge, the medical industry is so advanced, that almost everything and anything is possible with surgical procedures. Like humans, external and internal changes are attainable with surgery. Surgeries are commonly done for cats with incontinence when due to birth defects or underdeveloped bladder, which occurs at birth and persist as they get older. It is also called congenital structural defect. It may cost a little more for certain procedures, but it could solve the issue once and for all.

However, if the problem happens to be with a cat that is in advanced years, surgery may not be the most logical solution. This is when you would have to have a frank and open discussion with your vet about the potential problems that may face a senior cat and surgery. Your vet may suggest that surgery will be too risky for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether or not surgery is going to enhance or hinder the quality of life of your cat.

6. Be patient

We can be so busy in our daily lives that we want certain things or situations to be a quick fix. Consider an everyday reminder to yourself, everything takes time. Oftentimes, our emotions are uncontrollable, especially when dealing with our pets. Do not stress about it, trust that your cat will feel better and make sure to monitor the situation. Remember that your cat will be able to feed off of your emotions. If you show signed of stress, it may end up compounding the situation where your cat will react to your emotional state. Just make sure you have things readily available for your cat. Adequate amounts of water, food, washable cat diapers and clean litter among others. As mentioned above, certain medications and natural remedies may aid in solving incontinence issues with your cat but it is unlikely to be solved in a matter of hours. You just have to find out what will work for your cat.

7. Ask your veterinarian

There is no better way to address the issue with your cat. The veterinarian is equipped and has the knowledge and experience to diagnose your cat’s condition. First, the vet will do lab tests and exams for the cat. A scheduled urinalysis will also be part of the deal to check your pet’s progress. As for me, I did not wait for our cat to be weak before I went to the vet. I contacted a holistic veterinarian for our cat, it integrates conventional and alternative ways to treat disease. She was able to respond positively on the treatment and we were educated on the proper nourishment she needed. It made me realize, as parents of our pet cat, they get stressed when they feel we are stressed too.

It is important to keep in mind that our cats are carefully tuned into their surroundings. Sometimes just a small change can set off a ripple effect that results in all kinds of behavioral changes. With older pets, in particular, many do not do so well with change. They are settled in their routines and a disruption can prove to be a source of aggravation. The atmosphere we raise our pets in has a huge impact on them throughout their lives.

If our daily routine changes, and we behave differently, so is our cat. We may not see how our routine or behavior affects them. Sometimes, we just have to stop, listen and talk to them. Hearing a response may be impossible, but the connection should be there. You might get conflicting information on how you want your cat to be treated but it is best to trust your instinct. A list of holistic practitioners should be available in your local area. If you think it is the best thing to do for yourself, then it might be worth considering for your cat as well!

Your goal should always be to find the correct solution to remedy the problem and if that happens to be an inconvenience to you, you will have to find the way to cope until your cat is better. Your cat can’t tell you what it is feeling but it can show you when something is wrong. You need to pay attention to those signs and be prepared to seek the advice of a professional to help your cat.

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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