defined as abnormal voiding behavior showing
a loss of voluntary control over the act of voiding with inappropriate
urination. It should be distinguished from housetraining lapses and
One cause of incontinence may be an ectopic ureter-an abnormality in
development in which instead of attaching to the bladder in the normal
location, the ureters may attach very close to the neck of the bladder or even
directly to the urethra, therefore bypassing the control sphincters. Since this
is a congenital defect, signs are usually noted in cats under 1 year of age.
Surgery may be attempted to move the ureter to a more normal location, or the
kidney and ureter on that side may be removed. Cats do quite well with just one
When urinary incontinence is associated with FLUTD, the cat
may at first experience sudden urges to void, urinate in locations other than
the litter box, and void frequently in small amounts. These symptoms are caused
by urgency and pain upon urination, but the cat retains some control over the
act of voiding. However, if obstructions recur, the repeatedly overdistended
bladder loses the ability to contract and empty. A more or less constant
dribbling of urine occurs from the inert, overloaded bladder.
Spinal cord injury, especially that associated with pulling apart the
sacral-lumbar or coccygeal vertebrae when a car runs over a cat’s tail, is a
common cause of bladder paralysis,
overdistension, and subsequent urinary incontinence. Spinal cord diseases and
brain diseases can also lead to loss of bladder and bowel control. The spinal
cord defect sometimes seen in Manx cats and associated with their tailless gene
may also cause incontinence. Dysautonomia is an unusual neurological problem
that often presents with incontinence as one of the signs. Incontinence related
to these problems may improve if the primary condition responds to therapy.
Geriatric cats may lose some or all of their control over urination and
leak, especially when sleeping. Cats suffering from feline leukemia
sometimes show incontinence, as well.
Treatment: Treating incontinence is directed at finding the underlying cause
and correcting it if possible. Drugs that act on the bladder muscle may be
useful in selected cases.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"