While most people don’t like to think about the litter box, it’s important to know what’s going on in the cat’s litter box. Changes in urination and stool can be the first signs of disease in a cat.
Cats should urinate several times a day. It will vary depending upon the cat, and the amount of fluid they have taken in during the previous hours. However, blood in the urine is a sure sign that something is amiss and should be checked out by your veterinarian. Straining to urinate is equally problematic. Worse, if you have checked the box and there is little or no fluid and/or if your cat is crying while attempting to urinate. Cats who cannot void urine are in life threatening danger and no time should be lost calling the veterinarian. If it is after hours, the emergency veterinary services in the area should be utilized.
Any cat who suddenly stops using the litter box for urination should be checked by a vet. There are many reasons for this change, including behavioral problems. However, a vet should always rule out a physical cause, such as a urinary tract infection before you start working to retrain your cat to the litter box.
Stool volume and consistency should also be monitored. Stool should be firm but not hard and it should have form. If a cat suddenly has a major change in their stool, it may need to see a veterinarian. The only reasons NOT to see a vet if this happens, is if the owner has knowledge that the cat’s diet has changed suddenly or if the cat is taking a medication that the vet has said will cause diarrhea.
Blood in the stool, formed or not, should be checked out. Younger cats who have this symptom are most typically suffering from a high parasitic load. A veterinarian can test for this with a simple test and the treatment is not difficult.
Changes in stool volume should also be noted. If cat is suddenly not having as many bowel movements or is straining they should be checked out. The most common intestinal blockage is the furball but cats have been known to ingest some strange items in their play, so it’s important to know what’s happening. If the cat seems under the weather, is lethargic or vomiting as well as straining, this can be a serious problem that needs immediate attention.
Older cats will often have lower stool volumes and be more prone to constipation. As their kidneys get older, they have a harder time maintaining their fluid balance. The stool gets harder and is more difficult to pass. It is important the older cats be monitored regularly and have plenty of fresh water. A veterinarian can offer suggestions to those cats who suffer from recurring bouts of constipation.