Urinary and bowel incontinence in cats can be a stressful and concerning issue for pet owners. Not only does it indicate a potential underlying medical problem, but it can also disrupt your home environment.

Incontinence can occur in both the urinary and bowel systems and can be due to various causes ranging from urinary tract disorders to neurological issues, as outlined in MSD Vet Manual research, to age-related changes, according to the Europe PMC. Understanding the symptoms and potential causes is the first step toward effective treatment.

Stop Googling - Ask a Real Vet


  1. Symptoms of Incontinence in Cats
  2. Causes of Incontinence in Cats
  3. Treatment of Incontinence in Cats
  4. How Can the Emergency Fund Help
  5. FAQs
  6. Final Words

Symptoms of Incontinence in Cats

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of incontinence in cats is crucial for early diagnosis and effective treatment. Here's a list to help you know what to watch out for:

Signs of Feline Urinary Incontinence

  • Dribbling of Urine: Small amounts of urine may leak when the cat is resting or sleeping.
  • Wet Spots: Noticeable wet spots on bedding, furniture, or places where the cat sits.
  • Frequent Licking: Excessive licking of the genital area.
  • Odor: Persistent urine smell around the cat or in areas where it frequents.
  • Straining: Straining to urinate but only producing a small amount.
  • Frequent Visits to the Litter Box: More frequent trips to the litter box with little to no urine production.
  • Blood in Urine: Hematuria or a pinkish tinge may be visible in some cases.
  • Vocalization: Crying or vocalizing when attempting to urinate.

Signs of Feline Bowel or Fecal Incontinence

  • Unexpected Defecation: Uncontrolled or accidental bowel movements outside the litter box.
  • Difficulty in Posture: Struggling to maintain the proper posture for defecation.
  • Straining: Straining during defecation with little or no result.
  • Dragging Rear End: Scooting or dragging the rear end along the floor to get rid of poop in their fur.
  • Odor: Persistent fecal smell around the cat or in areas where it frequents.
  • Fecal Material Stuck to Fur: Residual fecal matter adhering to the fur around the anal area.
  • Lethargy: Reduced activity or unwillingness to move, often due to discomfort.
  • Loss of Appetite: Decreased interest in food, which could indicate discomfort or pain.

These symptoms can indicate various underlying issues, so it's crucial to consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Monitoring your cat's symptoms is crucial for effective veterinary diagnosis and treatment. A Pet Camera can be a valuable tool for keeping an eye on these symptoms, making it easier to report any irregularities to your vet.

Read more: Understanding Kidney Problems in Cats

Causes of Incontinence in Cats

Incontinence in cats can be due to a variety of reasons, and understanding these can help in providing the right treatment. Let's break down the complex causes into simpler terms:

Feline Urinary Incontinence Causes

  • Bladder Issues: Sometimes, the bladder doesn't relax as it should, leading to leakage.
  • Urethral Issues: A weak urethra can also result in the dribbling of urine.
  • Infections: Bladder infections can cause an urge to urinate frequently, leading to "accidents."
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Particularly in spayed animals, a lack of sex hormones can result in incontinence. This is because older, spayed cats lose smooth muscle tone because of a lack of estrogen, which leads to a weakened bladder sphincter.
  • Anatomical Defects: Some cats are born with structural issues that make normal urination difficult.
  • Neurological Problems: Conditions affecting the spinal cord or brain can also lead to urinary issues.

Feline Bowel Incontinence Causes

Cat sphincter incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of control over the anal or urethral sphincter, leading to unplanned bowel or urine leakage. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, such as neurological issues, muscle weakness, or injury, and often requires veterinary intervention for diagnosis and treatment. In general, the most common causes of cats losing control of their bowels include:

  • Age-Related Dementia: Older cats may suffer from dementia, leading to bowel incontinence.
  • Spinal Cord Issues: Injuries or diseases affecting the spinal cord can disrupt normal bowel function.
  • Congenital Abnormalities: Some kittens may be born with issues affecting bowel control.
  • Injuries and Infections: Accidental injuries or inflammation in the rectum and anus can cause incontinence.
  • Medical Conditions: Diabetes, tumors, and severe dementia can also result in loss of bowel control.

The symptoms can vary and may affect kittens and older cats differently. It's crucial to consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Treatment of Incontinence in Cats

Treatment for incontinence in cats depends on the underlying cause, so a thorough veterinary examination is essential for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan. Options may include:

  • Antibiotics: For urinary or fecal incontinence due to infection.
  • Surgery: For anatomical defects or severe injuries.
  • Hormone Therapy: Particularly for neutered animals experiencing incontinence.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: To manage inflammation in the urinary tract or bowels.
  • Behavioral Training: For mild cases, particularly in kittens.
  • Neurological Medications: If the cause is a neurologic disorder.
  • Supportive Care: Such as absorbent pads and frequent cleaning.

Treatment for cat sphincter incontinence also largely depends on the underlying cause. Options may include medications to strengthen the sphincter muscles, antibiotics for infections, or even surgical intervention for anatomical defects.
It's important to work closely with your vet to determine the best course of action for your pet.

Read more: Blood in Cat Stool: What to Do About It?

How Can the Emergency Fund Help

Sudden emergencies like a stroke or spinal injury could lead to incontinence in your cat, requiring immediate medical attention. The Petcube Emergency Fund can be a lifesaver in these situations. This fund can provide up to $3,000 for emergency treatment, giving you peace of mind when you need it most. Coupled with 24/7 online vet care, you can quickly get expert advice to figure out the best steps to take for your cat's health.

Both chronic conditions and unexpected emergencies can result in incontinence, making it crucial to be prepared for the financial responsibilities of your pet's healthcare. With resources like the Petcube Emergency Fund, you're better equipped to handle these challenges.

As a loyal blog reader, you’ll get 27% off by following this link — and thank you, from Petcube!


Do I need cat incontinence diapers?

Diapers can be a temporary solution to manage incontinence in cats, especially if you are working on finding a long-term treatment plan with your vet. They can be very helpful for old cats with dementia.

Are cat diapers effective for incontinence?

Yes, cat diapers can be effective for managing incontinence in the short term, but they are not a replacement for veterinary treatment to address the underlying cause. Also, you need to change them regularly to avoid your cat getting a rash or infection.

Why is my cat experiencing incontinence after a catheter?

Incontinence after catheterization could be due to irritation or injury to the urethra. Consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Final Words

Incontinence in cats can be a multifaceted issue, often requiring a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. While temporary solutions like diapers can help manage the symptoms, they are not a substitute for veterinary intervention.

Whether your cat has recently undergone a procedure like catheterization or is simply showing signs of incontinence, consult your vet for the most appropriate care. Resources like the Petcube Emergency Fund can also offer financial assistance in emergencies.

Was this article helpful?

Help us make our articles even better

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback