What Causes a Cat to Be Incontinent?

Let your vet get to the bottom of your kitty's urinary incontinence.
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If you notice drips or puddles of pee around the house, your kitty is probably incontinent. Other signs include wet fur on her belly, between her back legs or around her genitals and damp bedding. Lots of health problems cause incontinence in cats, so see your vet for a diagnosis.

UTI or Stones

Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of incontinence in cats. Bacterial infections anywhere in the urinary tract interfere with normal voiding of the bladder. They're generally easily resolved with a course of oral antibiotics. Stones in the urinary tract, including the bladder and kidney, also frequently lead to incontinence. Stones result from crystallizing collections of minerals in the affected organ. Your kitty's urine is likely to be tinged pink with blood if she has urinary tract stones. Treatment varies depending on the particular mineral and the size and location of the stones. Sometimes dietary changes and increased water consumption suffice; other times, stones require surgical removal.

Old Age

If your kitty's getting on in years, her advanced age may be the root cause of her incontinence. As cats get older, the muscles that control their urinary tract become weaker. Often dribbles of pee result, and cats may lose some control over their bowel movements, too. Feline cognitive dysfunction, which is much like senility in humans, sets in with old age sometimes too. Urinary incontinence is a symptom of this disorder. Your kitty may not be aware of her need to go, she may not make it to her litter box in time or she may even forget where she's supposed to relieve herself.

Ectopic Ureter

On the other end of the age spectrum, cats under 1 year may display incontinence as a symptom of an ectopic ureter. It shows so young because the condition is present from birth. If your kitten has this defect, her ureters aren't hooked up to the right place on her bladder, skipping around the control sphincters. A few surgical options exist to remedy the situation.

Spinal Cord Problems

If your kitty suffers an injury to her spinal cord, urinary incontinence may occur. This often results in cats when their tails are run over. Diseases affecting the spinal cord can also cause your kitty to lose control over her bladder function. Feline infectious peritonitis is a common one, caused by the feline coronavirus. A tumor on the spinal cord may also be to blame.


Besides spinal cord diseases, others potentially affect your kitty and cause her urinary incontinence. Though rare in cats, bladder cancer is a possibility; one or more tumors in the bladder easily cause incontinence. Your kitty should also be checked for feline diabetes. As in humans, diabetes causes increased thirst and urination. If your kitty is struggling with these symptoms, she may not be making it to her potty in time. Feline leukemia is another possibility. In spayed and neutered cats, it frequently presents with incontinence as a symptom. Other potential causes exist, and the sheer number and the fact that most are serious call for a veterinary appointment ASAP.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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