Like paraplegic dogs, cats with paralysis are likely to be incontinent. That makes them prone to urinary tract infections. And like dogs, the best way to keep those infections at bay is to learn how to express your incontinent cat’s bladder.
The techniques used to empty a feline bladder are a bit trickier than a dog. This is partially due to anatomy (a cat’s bladder rolls around a lot) and partially due to their spirited attitude. Felines are not as cooperative as canines when it comes to manipulating that part of their body.
So, each technique described below has one added step that you won’t see in the instructions about expressing dogs. That step is to keep your cat calm at all times.
Hopefully, we haven’t scared you away because there are many pet owners who successfully express their cat’s bladder every day. This post will explain how it is done.
Common methods to express your incontinent cat’s bladder
Cats should be expressed a minimum of three times a day, although the ideal number is 4-6 times a day. Typically, pet owners do this first thing in the morning, midday, after dinner and before bedtime. Additional times can be added as needed.
Note: Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before using these techniques. Every cat’s incontinence and paralysis are unique. So please get approval from your veterinary professional who knows your feline’s medical condition.
The ragdoll technique
The ragdoll technique is the most popular method to empty your cat’s bladder because it is done over their litter box. It will keep the process as normal as possible. After all, the litter box is already part of their personal turf.
- Begin the ragdoll technique by holding your cat under the armpits and let the bottom legs hang free. Help your cat relax by rubbing their neck and back.
- Finding the bladder, technique #1. This is done by tracing your finger to the bottom of the ribcage and moving downward toward the hips. You’ll know you found the bladder when you feel a “squishy” or “firm” golf ball sized oblong shape. The firmness depends on how the fullness of the bladder.
- Finding the bladder, technique #2. A cat’s bladder can move around. It can relocate itself as far down as the tail or be squeezed to one side of the body.
- Once you find the bladder use your free hand to gently squeeze the golf ball between two fingers until the cat pees freely. You may have to also use your thumb to keep the bladder in place.
The process takes practice so don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first few times. If you keep at it you and your cat will figure out a system that works. It just might need a little tweaking.
Another point to keep in mind is that expressed urine is highly concentrated so the kitty litter should be scooped up on a regular basis, even though your cat isn’t using it in a typical way.
Lying on their side technique
The lying down technique is best used for cats who are hard to express in the ragdoll position. These cats may have excessive bladder tone that won’t let urine flow with the ragdoll method.
- Place a towel on a table or floor. Lay your cat on top of the towel lying down on the right side. Make sure you are slightly above your cat.
- Rub your cat’s neck or talk sweetly to relax them.
- Put one hand on your cat’s back while the other hand reaches underneath the body to find the bladder
- Cup your hand around the bladder and squeeze. You might have to use your other hand to help. Gently push toward the tail until the urine flows onto the towel.
Like the ragdoll technique, the lying on their side method may take practice before you and your cat are successful.
What to do when cat’s won’t urinate
As we said before, felines don’t like having their bladder’s manipulated. Even if you’ve had your fur kid since kittenhood, you might get some push back. Your cat might hiss, growl or pull away.
In this case, be sure you are protected from injury and then scruff your cat by the neck to hold them in place. Keep in mind your goal is to reassure your cat. Never hold your cat so tight that you could hurt them. It is okay to release your feline and try again in a few minutes.
Another problem owners face is when their cat can’t urinate on demand.
Some cats are simply unable to be expressed on demand. In this case, you can try to stimulate urination.
This can be done by rubbing gently on your cat’s inner thigh and as they relax work up to massaging their lower belly. Once your cat feels comfortable you can add more pressure to the belly rub down. Hopefully, drops of pee will start of appear. This is your sign that your cat is ready to be expressed.
When to use a cat diaper
Cats who leak urine between expressing and felines who have a hard time being expressed are good candidates for diapers. But be aware incontinent pets who rely solely on diapers can become prone to recurring urinary tract infections and urine retention. (You can read more about those problems in the stories listed below) So it is best to think of diapers as a backup or added protection to expressing.
If you choose to use a diaper, you will have a lot of wonderful products to choose from. I personally work with and highly recommend the diapers from Barkertime. They have every conceivable product for incontinent pets and every diaper has a fun and fashionable print. I hope you’ll check them out.
Cat diapers are available in two ways:
- Disposable diapers. You can find them online or at pet supply stores.
- Washable diapers that are reusable. These diapers are waterproof and won’t fall off. They even come in a “pull up” design that protects from spraying.
Medical conditions that cause feline incontinence
Paralysis is just one of the medical conditions that can cause incontinence in cats. Here other common causes:
- Urinary tract infections
- Bladder stones
- Bladder cancer
- Feline Diabetes
- Feline Leukemia
- Kidney stones
Here are additional stories that will help you become an expert caretaker.