Blood in your cat’s urine: When to see the vet 

I know, spotting blood in your cat’s urine can be quite alarming. And it really is a red flag that you shouldn’t ignore. However, it’s important to understand that bloody urine is not a disease in itself but a symptom of various underlying conditions, some more serious than others. So if you see that your cat has blood in urine, the best thing you can do is to take her to a vet.

That being said, here’s everything you need to know to make an informed decision 😊

While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

cat urinating outside

Cat has blood in urine: Understanding hematuria

Hematuria refers to the presence of red blood cells in the urine. This can be either gross hematuria, where the blood is visible to the naked eye, or microscopic hematuria, detectable only under a microscope. 

In case of gross hematuria, your cat’s urine is red and it can be obvious that there’s blood in it. However, if your cat’s urine is orange or brown, it’s also a sign that there are microscopic level of blood in it. 

Why does hematuria occur in cats?

Cats can develop hematuria for various reasons, ranging from mild issues to more severe health concerns. It’s crucial to pinpoint the cause to provide the right treatment. 

Here are some of the most common causes of blood in urine in cats:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTI): Bacterial infection can cause irritation and bleeding in the urinary tract.
  • Bladder stones and Crystals: These can form in the bladder or urinary tract, irritating the lining and leading to bleeding.
  • Feline idiopathic cystitis (also known as Feline interstitial cystitis): The cause of this bladder inflammation is unknown. As opposed to UTI, it isn’t caused by bacteria. 
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD): This is a complex condition that can cause inflammation of the bladder and urethra.
  • Injury or Trauma: An injury to the urinary tract or bladder can lead to bleeding.
  • Stress-induced cystitis: Cats can develop bladder inflammation due to stress, which can cause hematuria.
  • Urethral obstruction: This happens more in male than in female cats. 
  • Kidney diseases: Kidney stones, kidney infection or inflammation or chronic kidney disease can also cause red urine.
  • Other health conditions: More serious issues like bladder cancer, clotting disorders or kidney disease can also result in blood in the urine.

Sadly, many urinary issues like bladder infections or urinary stones have a high recurrence rate. Following your vet’s recommended treatment plan is crucial for your cat’s health. 

Symptoms to watch for in cats with blood in urine

When your cat has blood in their urine, it’s obvious that something is amiss. However, as I said before, hematuria isn’t always noticeable. Being aware of other symptoms can help you catch potential problems early. 

Here’s a rundown of symptoms that often accompany hematuria in cats, making it easier for you to spot trouble and get your furry friend the help they need 🙂

Visible blood in urine or urine discoloration

  • Pink, red, orange or brown urine: This is the most straightforward symptom. If you see pink, or red discoloration in your cat’s urine, it’s a clear indicator of blood. But please remember that microscopic hematuria can also cause your cat’s urine to turn orange or brown.
  • Changes in urine odor or color: Apart from blood, any change in the odor or color of urine can be a symptom of a urinary tract problem. Normal cat urine is light yellow. Sometimes it can be dark yellow, if your cat hasn’t peed in a while (for example she slept all night). But if your cat drank enough water and her urine is still dark yellow (or pink/orange/brown/red), contact your vet.

Changes in urination habits

  • Straining to urinate: Watch for signs of difficulty or discomfort. Your cat might visit the litter box frequently but produce only small amounts of urine each time.
  • Frequent urination: An increase in the frequency of urination can be a sign of discomfort or irritation in the urinary tract.
  • Urinating outside the litter box: Cats with urinary issues might start urinating in unusual places. Urinating outside of the litter box is a general sign that something is not right. Many cats start to urinate outside of the litter box when they are in pain, when they are stressed or when they are not feeling well. 

Behavioral changes

  • Vocalizing while urinating: If your cat meows, cries, or shows signs of distress while urinating, it’s a clear sign of discomfort or pain.
  • Lethargy: A cat that’s feeling unwell might be less active, sleep more, or show a lack of interest in activities they usually enjoy.
  • Changes in appetite: Loss of appetite can accompany urinary tract issues.
  • Overgrooming: Cats with discomfort in their urinary tract might lick their genital area more frequently.
  • Visible discomfort or pain: This might include restlessness, inability to find a comfortable position, or vocalizing when picked up or touched.

Other symptoms

  • Water consumption: Increased or decreased water intake can be a symptom of underlying issues.
  • Weight loss: Significant weight change is often a sign of a more serious condition.

Cats are adept at hiding their pain, so these symptoms might be subtle or gradual. As a cat owner, your close observation can make a world of difference. 

Regular monitoring of your cat’s litter box habits, behavior, and physical condition is key to early detection of problems.

Catching and addressing urinary problems early can make a significant difference in the outcome for your cat.

Early detection often leads to simpler, more effective treatment options and can prevent the progression of potentially severe health issues. 

This is why it’s so important to not only be aware of what to look for but also to understand the potential causes and know when it’s time to seek veterinary care.

Infographic - Why is your cat's urine color important. Orange, brown, pink or red urine indicate that the cat has blood in urine . This could mean your cat is suffering from UTI, FLUTD, kidney disease or some other health condition. Dark yellow urine is normal after your cat was sleeping all night or hasn’t peed in a while. However, it might indicate also indicate dehydration, kidney or bladder infection or liver problems.

When to seek immediate veterinary attention for a cat with hematuria

Any change in your cat’s urination habits, especially the presence of blood, warrants a visit to the vet. 

However, there are other signs that indicate a medical emergency where getting your cat to a vet clinic as soon as possible is not just necessary, but life-saving. Recognizing these signs is crucial for any cat owner. 

Signs indicating an emergency

  • Complete inability to urinate: If your cat is straining without passing any urine, it could indicate a urinary blockage, which is a life-threatening emergency. Please take her to a vet immediately ❗️
  • Excessive vocalization or pain: If your cat is crying out, especially while attempting to urinate, it suggests severe discomfort or pain.
  • Blood in urine with other symptoms: While blood in urine alone warrants a vet visit, its combination with lethargy, vomiting, or refusal to eat is particularly concerning.
  • Repeated straining in the litter box: Frequent, unsuccessful attempts to urinate can be a sign of urinary obstruction or severe urinary tract inflammation.
  • Sudden behavioral changes: Unusual aggression, hiding, or other drastic changes in behavior can indicate that your cat is in distress.
  • Significant lethargy or weakness: A marked decrease in energy or responsiveness is a warning sign that something is seriously wrong.

Urinary blockages or severe infections, which can be associated with hematuria, can quickly escalate into life-threatening situations like kidney failure or bladder rupture.

Even if the condition is not life-threatening, the sooner a problem is addressed, the better the chances of a positive outcome. Delayed treatment can lead to more complex, costly, and less successful interventions.

Diagnosis: How vets identify the problem in cats with hematuria

I often view internal medicine as a challenging yet intriguing puzzle. Each piece represents a small but crucial bit of information, and having enough of these pieces, along with the skill to fit them together correctly, helps reveal the bigger picture.

At times, even with just a handful of pieces, the image becomes clear, while in other instances, every single piece is necessary to truly understand what you’re looking at. It’s a complex process, indeed, but for a veterinarian, it’s an enjoyable and rewarding challenge! 😊

When you bring your cat to the vet with symptoms of hematuria, the veterinarian will embark on a diagnostic journey to pinpoint the exact cause. 

Your vet will ask about your cat’s symptoms, diet, behavior changes, and any relevant past medical history. 

He/she will also perform a thorough physical examination, including palpating the abdomen to check for pain, bladder abnormalities, or masses.

Urine analysis is the key. If necessary, a sterile urine sample can be obtained directly by punctuating a cat’s bladder or by using a urinary catheter. 

We need to check for the presence of blood, urinary crystals, bacteria, and inflammatory cells. Urine specific gravity (measuring urine concentration) can also provide insights into kidney function and hydration status.

Blood tests are necessary to evaluate the overall health of your cat, check for signs of infection or anemia, assess kidney function, liver values, electrolytes, and more. This gives us a broad overview of your cat’s internal health.

If necessary, your veterinarian may suggest conducting X-rays or an abdominal ultrasound.

X-rays can reveal stones in the bladder or kidneys and other abnormalities in the urinary tract, while an ultrasound provides a more detailed view of the bladder and kidneys, identifying stones, tumors, or structural abnormalities.

If a UTI is suspected, the vet might order an urine culture to identify the specific bacteria and determine the most effective antibiotics.

If initial tests don’t provide a clear answer, or if your vet suspects a more serious condition like cancer, additional tests like a biopsy may be recommended.

A comprehensive diagnostic approach is crucial for your cat’s well-being. Understanding the cause allows for targeted treatment and can help in taking steps to prevent future episodes. Not to mention that most health issues have a better prognosis when caught and treated early.

As a pet owner, your involvement and understanding of this process are vital. Providing detailed information, following through with recommended tests, and adhering to treatment plans are key components of your cat’s health journey.

If you cannot take your cat to a veterinary clinic, you can at least talk to a licensed vet about your cat’s specific problems using Vetster👇

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Treatment of hematuria in cats

Once your vet has diagnosed the cause of hematuria in your cat, the next step is to discuss and implement an effective treatment plan. Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause, and it’s crucial to follow your vet’s advice closely.

The treatment focuses on therapy of the underlying cause and making your cat comfortable again. 

If a bacterial infection is the cause, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. It’s vital to complete the full course, even if symptoms improve quickly.

She’ll also need proper pain medication since bladder problems tend to cause severe pain.

Special veterinary prescription diet (like the one from Royal Canin or Hill’s) can help dissolve calcium oxalate stones and prevent them from forming again. But in some cases, particularly with larger or multiple stones, surgery may be necessary to remove them.

Depending on the specific diagnosis, medication to reduce inflammation, pain, or spasms might be prescribed.

A special diet can help manage FLUTD by promoting urinary health.

Reducing stress through environmental changes and diet can help alleviate symptoms.

Always make sure your cat drinks plenty of water. Try putting several bowls with fresh water around your home. You can also try using a water fountain or feeding wet food.

Treating hematuria in cats involves a combination of professional veterinary care and attentive home management. By understanding and following your vet’s treatment plan and implementing supportive home care strategies, you can play a pivotal role in your cat’s health and wellbeing. 

Remember, each cat is unique, and what works for one may not work for another, so stay in close communication with your vet throughout the treatment process. 

Caring for a cat with hematuria, or any health issue, requires a balance of vigilance, knowledge, and compassion. By adopting a proactive approach to your cat’s health, you can make a significant difference in their quality of life.

I hope your cat gets better soon! 🤗

PS: If you are as crazy about animals as I am and want to get more pet health tips, subscribe to my newsletter! Now you will get a free pet planner as a bonus 🤗

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