Blood in the Urine of Cats

If you notice red or brown urine in the litter box, it may be blood in the urine of your cat. You should definitely get to the bottom of this frightening symptom. Read the most important information on this topic in the following article.

How Dangerous is Blood in the Urine of Cats?

In any case, blood in the urine of cats should be taken very seriously. Since a large number of different causes can trigger this symptom, an early and detailed diagnosis is of great importance. Only then can your vet initiate targeted therapy.

What Causes Blood in the Urine in Cats?

It is not uncommon for cats to have blood in their urine at some point in their life, as there are many different causes that lead to this symptom. Normally, the kidneys filter the blood and then excrete substances that are secreted in the urine in the urine. In healthy cats, this has a yellowish color, which is lighter or darker depending on the fluid status. For example, if the cat is dehydrated due to a lack of water, the urine will be more concentrated in the kidneys and accordingly, the urine will have a darker shade of yellow.

Red discoloration of urine is physiological in some cases, for example when you eat beetroot. Nevertheless, illnesses and stimuli also lead to sign of illness. The vet will consider three different options:

Excretion of blood (red blood cells) by:

  • Inflammatory reactions: cats often suffer from bacterial urinary tract infections. It is not uncommon for urinary gravel and stones to form in the course of the infection. Hangovers in particular suffer from this, as their urethra is longer and curved due to their anatomy. If the urinary stones increase in size, they damage the sensitive mucous membrane of the urinary tract and possibly even cause life-threatening urinary obstruction. If this acute emergency is not treated, the bladder may burst. Young indoor cats with idiopathic FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) are also prone to it.
  • Tumors: the most common urinary tract tumors in cats arise from the tissue of the kidneys, bladder, ureter, and in cats in the prostate (prostate gland)
  • Poisoning: Medicines (e.g. rifampicin), herbal or chemical poisons can damage the kidneys in such a way that the red blood cells (erythrocytes) pass through the kidney tissue unfiltered.
  • Kidney disease (e.g. kidney failure)
  • Reduced blood clotting as a result of congenital diseases (e.g. Von Willebrand disease), consumption coagulopathy (DIC), or heparin treatment
  • Congenital vascular abnormalities

Excretion of the blood pigment hemoglobin as a result of the destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis) by:

  • Liver disease
  • Infectious agents such as the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), the Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV), or Babesia
  • Autoimmune diseases

Excretion of the muscle pigment myoglobin as a result of the destruction of muscle cells (rhabdomyolysis) by:

  • Severe muscle injuries from external trauma (e.g. from car accidents)
  • Seizures (e.g. from epilepsy or tetanus)
  • After serious operations (e.g. amputations)

Symptoms: What other Symptoms Do You See?

Often cats with blood in their urine show other signs of illness. These are of great importance for the diagnostic narrowing down. In the further course of the possible illnesses, a reduced general condition and, in the case of infectious diseases, fever occur particularly frequently in the cat. Frequent urination (polyuria), painful urination (stranguria), or increased urination of small amounts (pollakiuria) is often observed in the affected cats.

Blood in the Urine of Cats: What are the Diagnostic Tools?

Blood in the urine of cats always requires a vet visit soon. So never take this lightly. A urine test is particularly helpful in distinguishing between the three possible causes (hematuria, hemoglobinuria, and myoglobinuria):

  • In the case of hematuria, centrifugation of the urine lowers the red blood cells. This sediment appears red in the sample tube, while the upper part appears colorless. Since the dyes are free in hemoglobinuria or myoglobinuria, the tubes remain red throughout. So no sediment is formed.
  • A test strip can be used to determine any increased concentrations of red blood cells, inflammatory cells, proteins, and bacteria, as well as the pH value.
  • Under the microscope, the vet can see any urine crystals, yeast, bacteria, and blood cells that are present.

To distinguish between hemoglobinuria and myoglobinuria, the veterinarian must determine additional parameters. For example, he uses blood tests to measure the creatine kinase (CK) content, which is greatly increased as a result of the destruction of muscle tissue.

To clarify structural changes, the veterinarian also uses imaging methods such as X-rays or ultrasound.

Therapy: Treatment Options for Blood in the Urine of Cats

Hemoglobin, myoglobin, or blood in the urine of cats require different therapeutic approaches. Urinary tract infections and other infectious diseases, for example, require antibiotics or antivirals, depending on the pathogen. Traumatic events, tumors, or even large urinary stones, on the other hand, often require surgical measures. Prior diagnosis is therefore of great importance for the targeted treatment of the underlying disease.

Prognosis: What are the Chances of Recovery?

As a treatment, the prognosis cannot be generalized either. While harmless urinary tract infections are usually mild with early treatment, acute and untreated urinary obstruction can be life-threatening. Therefore, in the case of blood in the urine, it is very important that you consult a veterinarian early on.

Blood in the Urine of Cats: Preventive Measures

Pet owners can prevent some causes of blood in the urine of cats. So it is advisable to get advice from your trusted veterinarian about possible vaccinations. Proper nutrition and keeping cats also reduce the risk of diseases such as urinary stones or urinary gravel.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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