Why Does My Cat Squirt White Liquid?

While it may seem strange or alarming at first glance, cats squirting or releasing a clear, milky white fluid is actually completely normal feline behavior in many cases. This fluid comes from the cat’s urethra, which is part of their lower urinary tract. The lower urinary tract in cats consists of the bladder, urethra, and urethral orifice. The bladder stores urine produced by the kidneys until the cat is ready to eliminate. The urethra is the tube that transports urine from the bladder out of the body through the urethral orifice. Cats have anatomical differences from other mammals that allow them to concentrate their urine more and contribute to certain urinary conditions.

Marking Territory

Spraying is a territorial behavior in cats that involves urinating on vertical surfaces like walls, furniture, drapes, etc. It is most commonly seen in unneutered male cats, who spray urine to advertise their availability for mating. However, while less common, some neutered males and females also spray urine as a way to establish territory. According to the ASPCA, neutering or spaying cats can help reduce urine spraying, as this eliminates the need to advertise for mates. But other factors like anxiety, stress, presence of other cats, and underlying medical issues may also cause cats to mark their territory. So while the behavior is more prevalent in unneutered males, females also spray urine at times to claim an area as their own.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a common medical condition that can cause cats to urinate outside of the litter box (Cornell Feline Health Center). This disease affects the bladder and urethra, causing inflammation, irritation, and obstruction that makes urination difficult and painful for cats.

Symptoms of FLUTD include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, crying out while urinating, frequent urination, and urinating in locations outside of the litter box. These symptoms are caused by the inflammation and urethral obstructions that make it painful for the cat to pass urine normally. In some cases, cats may even develop total urethral obstructions that prevent them from urinating at all (PetMD).

FLUTD is often treated with medications, urinary acidifiers, and dietary changes. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause is important. Some causes include bladder stones, bacterial infections, anatomical defects, and stress. Consulting a veterinarian is recommended to properly diagnose and treat FLUTD.

Urinary Tract Infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria gets into your cat’s urinary tract and bladder, often from the feces, and multiplies. This causes inflammation and infection of the urinary tract. According to WebMD, the most common bacteria that causes UTIs in cats is E. coli. Other bacteria like Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Klebsiella, and Proteus can also lead to UTIs.

The main symptoms of a feline UTI include dysuria, which is difficulty and pain when urinating, and hematuria, which is blood in the urine. Cats with UTIs will frequently try to urinate but only pass small amounts of urine. They may cry or meow when attempting to urinate due to the pain and discomfort caused by the inflammation from the infection. Straining while urinating is another sign of a UTI in cats.

According to VCA Hospitals, prompt treatment for UTIs is important to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys. UTIs are diagnosed through urinalysis and treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. Preventative measures like feeding wet food, providing ample fresh water, and keeping the litter box clean can help reduce the risk of UTIs in cats.

Bladder or Kidney Stones

Bladder or kidney stones, also known as uroliths, are formed when crystal-like compounds become concentrated in the urine.[1] These crystals can aggregate and turn into stones or calculi in the urinary tract. The presence of stones in the urinary tract or bladder can cause irritation and symptoms such as straining to urinate or blood in the urine.[2] Specifically, the most common signs for bladder or kidney stones in cats are:

  • Frequent and sometimes painful attempts to urinate
  • Blood visible in the urine
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Crying or signs of pain when urinating
  • Decreased appetite and lethargy

Bladder stones are more common in cats than kidney stones. Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the stones or sometimes dissolution through special prescription diets. Preventative measures include encouraging water consumption, feeding wet food, and avoiding urinary alkalinizing crystal-promoting ingredients.[3]

[1] https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/bladder-stones-in-cats
[2] https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/kidney-and-urinary-tract-disorders-of-cats/urinary-stones-uroliths,-calculi-in-cats
[3] https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/bladder-and-kidney-stones

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a common cause of white liquid leakage in cats and refers to the involuntary leakage of urine. It occurs when a cat loses control of their bladder and cannot voluntarily urinate or hold their urine in. Urinary incontinence is often the result of age-related muscle weakness in senior cats that causes the urethral sphincter to not fully close and allows urine to leak out.

According to a retrospective case study of cats with urinary incontinence, the condition was most prevalent in neutered females over the age of 10 years old (Mérindol, 2022). The study found that urinary incontinence caused constant leakage of small amounts of urine, especially during periods of rest and sleep.

Cats with urinary incontinence will often leave small puddles of urine where they were laying or sitting down. Owners may also notice their cat’s hindquarters are frequently wet. In some cases, urinary incontinence may cause skin irritation or urine scald from the constant exposure to urine. Treatment focuses on hormone therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes to help control urinary leakage.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common cause of excessive urination in cats. As the kidneys become damaged, they are unable to concentrate urine properly. This leads to the production of large volumes of dilute urine, causing the cat to urinate more frequently [1]. The excessive urination serves to eliminate excess water from the body that the kidneys can no longer handle.

Some common symptoms of kidney disease besides increased urination include increased thirst, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, and bad breath. In advanced kidney failure, symptoms like lethargy, diarrhea, and leg weakness may occur as toxins build up in the bloodstream [2].

Kidney disease is diagnosed through bloodwork and urinalysis. Elevated BUN (blood urea nitrogen), creatinine, and phosphorus levels indicate impaired kidney function. The urine concentration may be abnormally low as well. Imaging tests like X-rays and ultrasounds can also detect kidney abnormalities [3].

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in cats where the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the body cannot utilize insulin properly, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. One of the most common early signs of diabetes in cats is excessive thirst (polydipsia) and increased urination (polyuria). This is because excess sugar spills into the urine, pulling fluid from the body, resulting in frequent urination. To compensate for the fluid loss, diabetic cats may drink significantly more water.

If your cat is suddenly extremely thirsty and urinating large volumes, it’s important to get their blood sugar tested by a veterinarian. A blood test can diagnose diabetes and determine the severity. Most diabetic cats will need daily insulin injections to regulate blood sugar. With proper treatment and diet, cats can live happily with diabetes. But if left untreated, diabetes can lead to severe complications and be fatal. So frequent urination paired with increased thirst in an older cat warrants an urgent vet visit for bloodwork. Catching diabetes early and managing it is key.

Sources:

https://www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/us/news/4-possible-signs-diabetes-cats


https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-diabetes

When to See the Vet

If your cat is straining or crying out when trying to urinate, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. Urinary blockages can become life-threatening within hours if left untreated. Other signs that warrant an urgent vet visit include small, frequent urinations, blood in the urine, and excessive licking of the genital area. Take note of any changes in litter box habits as well.

The vet will perform a physical exam and palpate your cat’s abdomen to check for a enlarged, painful bladder. They may collect a urine sample for urinalysis and culture to check for infection, crystals, and other abnormalities. Imaging tests like x-rays or ultrasound can reveal bladder stones or masses. Bloodwork helps assess kidney function and look for conditions like diabetes. Based on the exam and test results, the vet will determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

Treatments and Prevention

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the inappropriate urination. For urinary tract infections, antibiotics may be prescribed. Severe or recurring infections may require hospitalization and intravenous fluids. Urinary stones may need to be surgically removed or dissolved with special diets. Medications can help relax the urethra in cases of urinary incontinence or bladder stones. Kidney disease is treated through dietary changes, medications, or dialysis in end-stage cases.

There are several ways to help prevent inappropriate urination:

  • Increase water consumption by feeding wet food, adding water to dry food, or using a cat fountain.
  • Feed a urinary health diet to promote dilution of urine.
  • Provide plenty of litter boxes, cleaned daily.
  • Use calming plugins like Feliway to reduce stress.
  • Limit changes to feeding schedules or litter box location.
  • Have annual vet checkups to monitor for early signs of disease.

With prompt treatment guided by a veterinarian, most cats can overcome urinary tract issues and lead happy, healthy lives.

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