Urinary Incontinence in Cats
Can be the result of neurogenic problems or non-neurogenic problems

Urinary incontinence in cats is much different than inappropriate urination which is a behavioral problem, as this is a partial or complete loss of control by your cat.

The most common signs that you will see when your cat is starting to loose control is dribbling of urine or finding wet spots where your cat has been sleeping.

Once this occurs, their skin will start to become irritated by the contact with the urine.

This condition can occur in any cat depending on the actual underlying cause, and it can and does affect cats of any age, breed, or sex.

It is also the warning signs that something else may be seriously wrong with your cat.


Cat eatingUrinary incontinence in cats can be treated successfully

Urinary incontinence in cats has two completely different set of potential causes; neurogenic and non-neurogenic.

Normal urination by your cat requires that both the nerves and the muscles of their bladder are working in complete unison, and when they do not, incontinence is the result.

This condition is quite often confused with inappropriate urination, but it is totally different simply because this is not a behavior problem, it is a physical problem.

Neurogenic Causes

Urinary incontinence in cats that is caused by a neurogenic problem will include problems or abnormalities in your cats nervous system that regulates the urination process.

This set of problems can be divided into two separate categories; problems with the upper motor neuron and problems with the low neuron motor process.

The upper motor neuron in your cat originates in the motor region of their brain stem and carries information down to the targeted muscles, in this case the muscles of the bladder.

These problems include the cerebral, the cerebellar, as well as the brain stem itself.

However, it could also be a problem with lesions in the spinal cord. The most common cause of any type of problem that affects the cerebral is a condition referred to as cerebral edema.

This is a where your cats brain is starting to swell or is swollen as the result of some type of a head trauma.

Because of this trauma, both oxygen and blood is not flowing properly to your cats brain, and as it results it is not sending the proper signals back.

As trivial as it sounds, urinary incontinence may be one of the first signs that you have that something is wrong with your cat.

If it is a lesion in your cats spinal cord, the incontinence will be the least of your worries, but it also may be the first sign that you have.

The lower motor neurons connect your cats brain stem to their spinal column and if this is the problem, it is usually the result of the local nervous reflex arc in your cat malfunctioning.

This arc is a system of nerves that directly controls their urination process and it can also be affected by a trauma of some kind, as well as tumors or nerve injuries.

Non-Neurogenic Causes

Urinary incontinence in cats also has several non-neurogenic causes; however, the single largest cause is from primary sphincter mechanism incontinence.

This form of incontinence is believed to be the result of a weakness in your cats urethral muscles and it will generally affect medium to large sized middle aged spayed females.

There are however, several other potential non-neurogenic causes.

The next possible cause may be some type of an abnormality that occurred during the birth of your cat and is just now starting to surface, and is referred to as an ectopic ureter.

This is a condition where the ureter, instead of terminating in the urinary bladder of your cat, actually terminates at a different site.

In male cats it is usually in the urethra, while in females it may be in the urethra or the vagina.

It is rare, but it does occur and can cause severe urinary tract infections throughout your cats life as well as a continuous urinary drip.

But the problems do not end there.

There is also a condition known as overflow incontinence, which is where your cat has a partial urethral obstruction.

This is usually caused by a calculus as the result of mineral salt build ups in their system.

This form of urinary incontinence in cats also produces other symptoms that you can watch for. It causes acute abdominal pain as well as tail switching by your cat.

This can become very serious as the bladder may eventually rupture, but again, the first signs that you may see will be incontinence.

Your cat may also have a muscle disorder in their bladder, or an over or under active bladder muscle that is causing the incontinence to occur.


Urinary incontinence in cats has a myriad of very successful treatments that are available, depending on the actual underlying cause.

If it is the most common cause, primary sphincter mechanism incontinence, it can be treated with a drug called phenylpropanolamine, but there is one word of caution with this drug.

It can cause an irregular heartbeats in your cat.

You might want to ask your veterinarian about using estrogen's instead, as they are much safer.

If the underlying cause is the result of an over active bladder muscle, there are some very effective smooth muscle relaxant drugs that will immediately correct this.

These drugs are also very effective with any type of a functional obstruction by a lack of coordination between the bladder and the urethra.

Male cats that have been neutered may have to be treated with testosterone injections.

If you cat is one of the unfortunate few that actually has an ectopic ureter, it will have to be surgically removed.


Urinary incontinence in cats in most cases is not extremely serious, unless an infection sets in from some type of an obstruction.

This development in your cat is much more than just a nuisance and is certainly not a behavioral issue.

Instead it something to take very seriously as it may be the first sign that you have that something is very wrong with your pet.

Once your cat has been treated, it will be extremely important to make sure that they have fresh water at all times as they will be very thirsty.

You should also check their bedding daily to make sure it is dry and clean and it is not reoccurring.

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