How to Express a Cat’s Bladder

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 05/06/21 •  11 min read
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Is your cat incontinent? Caring for your cat on a regular basis is going to be important so that they can live a healthy life. This is going to require you having to manually express the bladder for your cat. This may seem like a scary and daunting task at first. But once you know the right technique and have done it a few times, you will become a natural and be confident doing this for your cat. It will become part of the daily routine.

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Do you know how to safely and effectively express your cat’s bladder? Read our guide to the process so that you can learn how to do it for yourself.

Why Do You Need to Express a Cat’s Bladder?

If you are new to this subject or just passing through, you may wonder why you have to express a cat’s bladder. Essentially, some cats have neurological problems that mean they are unable to urinate by themselves. This can be present throughout their lives or it can be a problem that develops. Either way, the owner will have to express the bladder so that urine can escape from the body. Any breed of cat can develop lower urinary tract problems. This can be at any age. Yet, research shows that cats are around four years old when problems start to develop. Older cats can also have problems with urinating, as well as happening to both male and female cats.

There are some signs to look out for that might signify there is a problem with your cat. This can include your furry friend spending a lot of time in the litter box. They may be unable to urinate by themselves. In addition, some owners have noticed that their beloved cats are starting to urinate outside of their litter box around the house. This may be happening because they have no control over it. Some cats may make sounds and meow to demonstrate their discomfort. You should not ignore this and arrange an appointment with your veterinarian. In particular, urinary problems can be a lot more serious with male cats. This is due to having a narrower and longer urethra. If there is a reason for this and it gets blocked, they can become very sick. They can damage their bodies and become very ill quickly. If you think that your male cat has a blocked urethra, do not delay medical treatment. In some cases, the vet has ways to break down the blockage and make sure that your cat feels better quickly. If there is a long term problem, you will need to learn how to express your cat’s bladder.

Expressing the bladder is a process that must be done around two to four times a day. A cat may require more trips to the bathroom if they drink a lot that day. For example, on hot summer days. Eventually, this process will become a habit for the person and the cat. We all know that most cats have a mind and personality of their own. Some show resistance to a human expressing their bladder at first.

But it is something that they will get used to as it becomes part of the daily routine.

How the Bladder Works

First of all, it is important to know how a healthy bladder functions. Of course, it is a part of the body that is meant to fill with urine and to be emptied. In this process, the bladder expands and releases. Essentially, your hand has to act as a muscle for your incontinent cat. In order words, you need to squeeze the urine out of the bladder through the urethra and out of the opening.

One of the most important things to remember when you are expressing your cat’s bladder is that you have to be gentle. There is going to be some irritation to the bladder over time. But you can prevent damage occurring by being very gentle with your cat. In particular, you do not want to damage the walls of the bladder. This can happen if you are too rough during the process.

Let’s look at the necessary steps to begin with expressing your cat’s bladder.

Choose a Location

First of all, you want to choose where you are going to express your cat’s bladder. This should be somewhere that is easy to clean up if there are any accidents and that you are comfortable with the process.

For example, you may choose to express your cat’s bladder onto a towel or straight into the litter box. This will depend on whether your furry friend is comfortable with this. It is normal for them to be scared or uncomfortable at first. But they will get used to it. In addition, you can choose to do this process into a sink or toilet if you prefer. A lot will be down to what you are comfortable with and if your cat is going to be cooperative with the process.

Always remember that you want to avoid feeling stressed or worried about the process. Cats are intelligent and will sense this. This can mean that they tense up and become uncooperative. It can also mean that they block the flow of urine, which is going to render the process pointless. Of course, always know that there is a risk of getting urine on your surroundings. There may be times when it gets on your clothes. This is part of the process and it will happen. Just make sure that you clean up and sanitize the area afterward.

Position Your Cat

Expressing your cat’s bladder is going to be a lot easier when you know how to handle them properly. Always remember that animals can sense your fear and tension. In particular, cats will know when you are stressed and this can make them uncomfortable in a situation. Try to stay relaxed during this process so you can do it successfully. In addition, speak to your furry friend and reassure them that everything is ok. Sometimes, you need this assurance too!

The right way to position the cat is going to depend on you, as well as your furry friend. Your cat can face you and their front legs may benefit from being on your thighs or a counter. The hind legs should be next to the target for the urine, whether this is the litter box or sink. Cats do like to feel like they are supported. This will help them to stay calm and relaxed for the procedure.

In order to gain some control over your furry friend, you may find it helpful to gently scruff your cat. This is can help if you just need to do a few squeezes and your cat becomes unsettled and begins to wriggle. This is going to help the process end quickly and make sure the bladder is emptied. There should be no need to roughly scruff your cat when you are expressing the bladder. This is only going to create tension. Calm measures are what is needed to get the job done.

Locate the Bladder

The next step is going to be the important one; finding the bladder. It may sound like a simple step. But it can be hard to find your furry friend’s bladder since they have so much hair and they may have body fat. Start by using your strong hand and placing it underneath your cat near to the stomach. Move back so that you are nearer to the rear and stick to the right below the ribs. You then want to use your other hand to lift the cat slowly.

You will need to feel around the abdomen. You should know when you feel the bladder, as it has a unique shape. When you are feeling around, it should be smooth and almost seem like it is a water balloon. Make sure that you do not begin squeezing right away. Make sure you can feel it first. Try to remember this spot and what it feels like for the next time you express your cat’s bladder. Over time, you will get quicker at finding it.

Practice the Hand Movement

The big step is having the right technique to express the bladder sufficiently. Start by finding the bladder and cradling it in your hand. You then want to apply a small amount of pressure on the bladder. This movement is going to force the urine to come out. To avoid hurting your cat, avoid using heavy pressure.

If the bladder is very full, you may be able to roll your fingers along the sides and this movement will be enough. But note that as the bladder empties it is going to change shape and become smaller. This means you will have to squeeze out remaining urine after this point. It is important to never use the finger nails or tips of your fingers on the bladder. This may cause damage. It is recommended to use the flat pads of your fingers. Be firm but not squeezing too hard. After a while, pause so that you can reposition and work with the bladder as it changes. When the urine stops, access whether the bladder is empty or you have to adjust your position.

How Do I Know If the Bladder is Empty Enough?

Once you get used to expressing your cat’s bladder, you will know what is normal for them. You will know when the bladder is emptied and understand how to do it properly. It can take a while to get there. But you will gain the confidence to do it eventually.

A good way to see is if you stop expressing your cat. Let your cat have a rest and they can walk around for a while. This allows the bladder to adapt and shrink to suit the urine that s remaining. You can try the process again and see if any urine comes out. If you feel that the bladder walls are touching, this is normally a sign that it is empty enough for your cat and there is no urine left to empty.

Remember that you can leave a small amount of urine in the bladder. Think about it as the size of a grape. In addition, if the urine is only coming out in drips, you can stop at this point.

It is always important to remember that if you cannot express any urine, it is best to contact your veterinarian. Make an appointment and they can help you or figure out what is wrong with your furry friend. For example, if you think that the bladder is large and hard, this can be a bad sign. In particular, you might only be able to get a few drops of urine out. This could indicate that the bladder has become blocked. This is classed as a medical emergency and you will need to contact your vet straight away.

Signs to Look Out For

There are some signs you should look out for when you are expressing your cat. They may signal that something is wrong and deserves a vet appointment. For example, if you notice that your cat’s urine has a noticeable fishy odor, this can signify that they have an infection. There may even be some blood. If you notice these symptoms, make sure that you call your veterinarian. An infection must be treated in other for it to go away. Your cat may be in some discomfort you are not aware of.

If you notice that your cat’s bladder is hard but you cannot get any urine out with the normal technique, there may be a problem. This could mean that your cat’s bladder is blocked for some reason. This is an emergency and you must call your veterinarian straight away. If the bladder is blocked, they are going to be able to help in this situation. This is not something that will resolve on its own.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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