Cat Urinary Bladder Inflammation

I have long been fascinated by a syndrome that occurs in cats that has no logical explanation I can come up with: Why do cats with blood in the urine deposit that abnormal sample on white surfaces where the contrast will show the blood?

Suppose you’re a person who is deaf and are unable to write. You have pain and burning when you urinate and you notice that your urine has a red tinge. Perhaps your only way to communicate to your caregiver that you have a problem is to urinate in a bathtub, sink, on a white shower curtain, paper towel or sheet. We’re human, we can figure that out.

Struvite crystals often complicate urinary tract infection in cats
Struvite crystals often complicate urinary tract infection in cats

As amazing as many dogs and cats are, no educated person is going to give them credit for having reasoning power to discern showing their medical abnormality to their owner in that way. In fact, I’ve never seen it done by a dog.

Yet, in thirty years of practice I can tell you I’ve heard that story repeated dozens of times regarding cats.

Little Mercy, pictured here, did it over the Thanksgiving holiday. When we performed her urinalysis there was an overwhelming amount of blood and an impressive quantity of struvite urinary crystals.

Struvite crystals, made up of ammonium, magnesium and phosphate ions, form in neutral to alkaline urine. Their structure contains sharp spicules that irritate the lining of the bladder, resulting in the blood we see. Struvite crystals can congregate together to form plugs that stop up a male cat’s urethra, and in larger numbers can form stones in cats and dogs.

I don’t know how cats come up with the idea to demonstrate their urine abnormalities to us, but I am very glad they do. Otherwise they would suffer longer with these problems before getting the help they need.

A Convenia antibiotic injection and a change of diet to Prescription Diet c/d will have Mercy back to urinating in her litterbox again in a few days. The c/d has a lower quantity of struvite building blocks and it acidifies the urine so that potential crystals stay in suspension instead of solidifying.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph,.

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  1. Dear Doctor, My cat is 19 1/2 years old. He started urinating outside of the litter box approximately 2 weeks ago and was very lethargic. Since he is old and very crabby at the veterinarian, his Dr. decided to give him a Convenia injection (4 days ago). I’m sure he associates the litter box with pain from his UTI. How long will it take for him to resume going in the litter box? Is there anything I can do to help his anxiety? Thank you !

    • Janet, there are dozens of reasons cats urinate outside of their litterboxes, even when they have been faithful inside the box for years. UTI is but one of the causes, and I will be writing on the topic next week. If you don’t already have a subscription to then please subscribe today (it’s FREE!) by clicking on the link to the Home Page and following the SUBSCRIBE steps in the upper right hand corner. As for your antique kitty, you may wish to take the steps mentioned in the linked article. It is entirely possible that arthritis may be a problem (ask your pet’s doctor about Dasuquin for Cats), kidney disease and just plain old cleanliness. If you are using a scoopable litter, try scooping at least three times each day. If you are using conventional, non-clumping litter, change the entire contents twice weekly. I promise more information in next week’s post.

  2. My 26-month-old female Ragdoll cat has had idiopathic cystitis (on and off, but mostly on) since she was just 4 months old. Finally, she’s been diagnosed with struvite crystals and her veterinarian put her on Hills Prescription Diet s/d. The problem is, she outright refuses to eat either the canned or the dry versions of s/d. What other food would help dissolve the struvite crystals?

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