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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when a cat’s kidneys lose functional and/or structural capacity. It is an irreversible, progressive disease. CKD occurs in all ages of cats but it’s more common in older cats. Researchers believe it affects between 8-31% of older cats (2) with 30% of cats over the age of 15 years being affected by CKD. The cause of CKD is unknown in most cases.
Do Cats With Kidney Disease Pee More?
Increased urination is a classic symptom of CKD in cats. Cats with decreased kidney function produce more urine than cats with healthy kidneys. This is because their kidneys are unable to strain out and retain the water from the blood the way they should. Instead of keeping this needed water in the body, it passes into the urine.
How Can I Stop My Cat From Peeing On The Floor?
If your cat with kidney disease is peeing on the floor, you can help by making sure to identify and treat any bladder infections. It’s also important to identify and treat painful conditions like arthritis and spinal pain. Finally, optimize the litter box to make it easy and pleasant for your cat to use.
Let’s talk through the steps you can take to help your cat pee where you want them to go and not on the floor or any other inconvenient place…
1. Check for Bladder/Kidney Infection and Stones
A cat’s body has multiple ways to protect against bladder infections. Urine that is very concentrated is inhospitable to bacteria that might invade a cat’s urinary bladder.
Cats with CKD can’t produce concentrated urine so their pee is quite watery. Watery urine makes a better environment for cystitis/lower urinary tract infections.
So when a cat with kidney disease is peeing on the floor, the first thing to check for a medical condition. The most common tests include urinalysis and urine culture to check for infection. Your vet may also recommend an abdominal x-ray or ultrasound study to check for bladder stones and tumors.
2. Treat Arthritis and Spinal Pain
In addition to lower urinary tract issues, many cats with CKD also suffer from chronic pain. (1) This pain usually comes from arthritis or chronic spinal changes.
Weight management is a good place to start when your cat has chronic pain of this type. The majority of house cats carry excess weight. Talk to your vet about what your cat should weigh and what kind of cat food you should feed to achieve weight loss.
Fatty Acid Supplementation
Omega-3 fatty acids are clinically proven to improve the symptoms of arthritis pain in animals. You can add a fish oil supplement to your cat’s meals like Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet.
Or you can choose a food that contains a high level of omega-3. Hill’s makes a cat food called k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Cat Food that is meant to help cats with chronic renal failure/CKD as well as mobility.
Prescription medications are often very effective at controlling a cat’s pain. Your vet may recommend injectable glycosaminoglycans like Adequan or the oral form as found in Cosequin. Stronger meds used to treat cat pain include gabapentin, buprenorphine, and the cat-specific NSAID, robenacoxib (brand name, Onsior).
Cold Laser & Acupuncture
Finally, some cat owners feel that alternative therapies are helpful in controlling their pet’s pain. Cold laser therapy and acupuncture are available in most areas–ask your vet for more info.
3. Make Your Cat’s Litter Box a Nice Place to Visit
Cats with kidney failure produce a lot of urine. These same cats often suffer from arthritis pain, bladder pain, and spinal pain. All of these things can add up to an unpleasant experience in the litter box when they visit to urinate.
The litter may be smelly or feel bad to their feet. They may not feel secure if the box is in a noisy place or there are other cats competing for it. It might be that your cat has significant pain only when they get into the “peeing position” and come to associate pain with the litter box.
You can help your kitty by doing a “litter box trial.” That means getting a few different kinds of litter trays and a few different kinds of litter to see what your cat prefers.
Different Styles of Litter Boxes
You can buy or modify a litter box to have a very low entry area. Some cats even like corner-style litter trays made for ferrets.
Try boxes with very high sides as well as covered boxes. Try an oversized litter tray, too. You never know what your cat will like best.
Different Styles of Litter
When it comes to litter, many cats prefer plain old unscented, clumping or non-clumping gravel kind. But you can also try one make from paper (Yesterday’s News or Carefresh) or wheat (Swheat Scoop). And Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract litter works miracles for some cats.
You can tell which kind of litter your cat likes best by putting them in litter trays next to each other. Whichever one gets used the most is probably their favorite.
Number & Location of Litter Boxes
Follow the rule of thumb to always keep one more litter box than the number of cats living in your home. If you have 3 cats, you need at least 4 litter boxes.
First, if your cat is peeing on the floor far from the litter box, try placing a new litter box where they are peeing.
Try placing the litter boxes in different locations, including near where your cat sleeps so it’s easy to get to when they wake up and need to go pee. Don’t forget to put at least one litter box on every level in your house so your cat doesn’t have to deal with stairs to get to a potty place.
Litter Box Cleaning
Like most humans, cats don’t like using a dirty, smelly toileting area! I guarantee if it smells a little bad to you, it smells downright awful to your cat.
You can try using litter tray liners that you throw away with the dirty litter to improve cleanliness. But some cats don’t like litter tray liners, so you’ll have to experiment.
Be sure to scoop out all wet spots and poop from every box daily. Empty every litter box monthly and wash it with soap and water before refilling it with litter.
In addition to keeping super clean litter boxes, I recommend using an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle to clean urine from the floor. This will remove or reduce the urine scent and decrease the likelihood of the cat returning to the same spot to pee on the floor again.
There are many things you can do to help when a cat with chronic renal disease is peeing on the floor. First, treat any urinary tract infections that are found. Next, treat pain resulting from arthritis or spinal changes. Finally, make urination in the litter box a pleasant, comfortable experience.
Be patient with your kitty. They’re dealing with things in the best way they know. They may just need a little help to return to being the good companion you fell in love with.
- Marino, C. L., Lascelles, B. D. X., Vaden, S. L., Gruen, M. E., & Marks, S. L. (2014). Prevalence and classification of chronic kidney disease in cats randomly selected from four age groups and in cats recruited for degenerative joint disease studies. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 16(6), 465-472.
- Chew, D. (2019, October 31–November 3). Artificial Intelligence Takes the Surprise Out of Chronic Kidney Disease [Presentation]. American Association of Feline Practitioners Conference, San Francisco, CA.