When thinking of internal health, the first organs that usually come to mind are the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, and the liver. Rarely is the bladder given primary concern. However, bladders serve a vital role in maintaining good health in humans and animals alike. They are part of the urinary system responsible for ridding the body of waste, and operate by storing urine until the individual chooses to urinate. Therefore, the bladder is a crucial organ in a cat’s health.
Most people have a general idea of how the bladder works, but are unaware of just how much it can affect the life of their cat. Bladder health is connected to a wide variety of health issues as well as behavioral issues. It is important to understand the interesting and varied aspects of this organ in order to ensure a healthy life for a cat.
As cats cannot tell their owner what they are feeling, it can be difficult to know why they are in distress or acting strangely. Often, bladder-related issues are the source of peculiar behavior. Understanding the bladder can help a person better understand the needs of their pet. Here are 10 interesting facts about the organ.
Cats have many health issues related to their bladders
While most people rarely give more than a passing thought to their cat’s bladder, it is in fact connected to a wide host of health problems. Some of these issues include infections, blockages (like stones and crystals), and inflammation. Each specific complication can be identified by symptoms which often include difficulty urinating or frequent urination, blood in the urine, licking the genitals, or urinating outside the litter box.
Although everyone knows that an unhealthy organ can cause health issues, many people do not appreciate how much of a cat’s quality of life depends on a healthy bladder.
Obesity affects bladder health
Obesity is a significant health risk for cats. While normally associated with heart and artery health, obesity can in fact have negative effects on a cat’s bladder. Often, significant weight gain can cause incontinence in a cat, which will result in involuntary urination. This can be distressing for the cat and inconvenient for the owner. Luckily, this is an issue that is easily rectified simply by bringing the cat’s weight down to a healthy level.
The volume of a cat’s bladder can have great variation
Although the volume capacity of cats’ bladders is naturally smaller than that of humans (who normally have a capacity of 400-600 mL), there is a wide variation in the amount of urine that they can store. Generally, a healthy range is between 150-250 mL. Some cats have been known to reach up to 300 mL, but this is quite abnormal. In fact, this is a fairly large capacity. Given the relative size, it is surprising that the volume capacity of a human bladder is generally only 100-200 mL more than a cat bladder.
Cat bladders should be emptied several times each day
Although the exact frequency of urination will vary between cats, most cat bladders must be emptied every 8-12 hours. If a cat is not urinating within this range, they may be prone to infections or suffering a more serious health issue that is preventing them from urinating properly.
It is always recommended to check the cat’s litter box daily to ensure that they are urinating normally. Too much or too little urine may be a symptom of a health problem. On average, cats will create up to 3 fist-sized clumps of litter in their litter box each day.
Bacterial urinary tract infections are possible
Many people assume that because urine is antibacterial, cats cannot develop urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, this is false. Issues with the bladder can cause the urine to become dilute, making it so watery that bacteria are able to survive. Further, complications like diabetes can make the urine in a cat’s bladder so sugary that bacteria flourish. These infections must be treated with antibiotics, or they can pose serious health risks.
Bladder cancer in cats is very rare
One of the most serious health issues for cats, just like humans, is cancer. Luckily, bladder cancer in cats is exceedingly rare. When it does occur, it tends to be caused by lymphoma. Interestingly, bladder cancer in cats is nearly identical to kidney cancer in its growth and prognosis.
Given the wide range of health issues that can be caused by the bladder, it is lucky that the vast majority of cats will not have to endure bladder cancer.
Bladder health depends on diet
Although genetics play a large role in the health of any organ, there are other ways to optimize bladder health in a cat. For example, a proper diet can mean the difference between a healthy and functional bladder and one that is plagued by crystals. Diets that alkalinize urine are known to cause crystalluria in the bladder.
It is interesting to note that not only can bladder health have a significant impact on a cat’s lifestyle, but the cat’s lifestyle can affect its bladder health as well.
Cats often pee outside the litter box because of bladder problems
While a cat owner might automatically assume that their cat is simply behaving poorly when it pees outside the litter box, it may be doing so because of bladder complications. Issues with bladder health like infections and inflammation can cause a cat significant pain when urinating. This can lead to the cat associating the litter box with pain, which will cause them to avoid it.
Another consequence of a compromised bladder is that the cat will seek help. One of the ways it may get its owner’s attention is by causing trouble and peeing where it knows it should not. Knowing more about their cat’s bladder health can help owners know when to discipline their pet and when to seek medical attention.
Male and female cats have different bladder issues
Often, bladder health is connected to the function of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the cat’s bladder to its penis or vaginal opening. However, male cats often suffer urethral blockages that female cats do not, because the male urethra tends to be narrow. Inflammation or stones can block the urethra in a male cat, which is a serious health risk because the urine cannot empty from the bladder. This can even result in death if untreated.
Cats sometimes need help emptying their bladders
Expressing a cat’s bladder is to manually squeeze out its urine. This occurs when the cat is unable to urinate on its own. There are many reasons for this, including paralysis. However, it is important to help a cat urinate several times each day if it cannot on its own.
Expressing the cat’s bladder can be a tricky task, as it can be difficult to find the bladder. Generally, it involves holding the cat with one hand while gently compressing the bladder between the fingers and thumb of the other.
Just about everyone has a general idea of what the bladder does. However, cat owners should be mindful of the wide variety of interesting factors that contribute to bladder health in cats. Diet, weight, capacity, and gender are all factors that affect bladder function.
As well, most people are unaware of the wide variety of health issues connected to the cat’s bladder. While these range from mild irritation to life threatening issues, keeping the bladder in good health is vital for a cat to live a long and happy life.