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feline health problems

Why is my cat peeing blood?

Seeing red in the litter box is alarming — Here’s what you should do if you think your cat is peeing blood. 

Updated August 24, 2021

Created By

Victoria Lancaster,

The essentials

  • Blood in the urine is known as hematuria — Don’t ignore this symptom, pet owners should take their cat to the vet right away.
  • Many conditions can cause hematuria in cats — Usually, urinary tract or bladder infections are to blame.
  • Hydration and relaxation are key  Help prevent hematuria in your cat by giving them clean water, a low-stress environment, and a tidy litter box.

Why is my cat peeing blood?

We know it’s alarming to see blood in your cat’s urine. If you do spot blood, it’s typically a sign that something’s wrong with your cat. Blood can appear in a variety of colors and forms — It may be orange or red and tint the urine or come in the form of blood clots when your cat pees.

👉 There are many common illnesses that cause blood in a cat’s urine, but it’s important to get them to the vet immediately.

What is hematuria?

Hematuria is the medical term for blood in a cat’s urine. Hematuria can sometimes be obvious, and other times the blood will appear at microscopic levels. 

Common signs of hematuria in cats

Because hematuria can be hard to spot, here are other accompanying symptoms to look out for in your cat:

  • Urinating outside of the litter box 
  • Increased frequency of urination 
  • Small amounts of urine or inability to urinate
  • Vocalizing or whining when urinating 
  • Excessive licking of genitalia 
  • Change in color and smell of urine

What kind of cats are more at risk for hematuria?

Some cats are more prone to hematuria, like those who frequently suffer from UTIs. Older female cats are more likely to develop UTIs, so they may experience hematuria more often than male cats. 

Causes of blood in your cat’s urine

These underlying illnesses and conditions are likely to cause hematuria: 

  • Stress. This is one of the foremost causes of blood in your cat’s urine. After a cat undergoes a period of stress, they are likely to develop illnesses involving the bladder and urinary tract. 
  • Pandora Syndrome. Cats suffer from Pandora Syndrome more often than they suffer from UTIs. It is a general term used to describe bladder hormone abnormalities, obesity, and inflammation in the bladder. 
  • Crystals, bladder stones, and tumors. When bladder stones, crystals, or tumors rub against the bladder wall, they can irritate the tissue and cause bleeding. It’s important to note that tumors can also bleed on their own.
  • Urethral obstruction. This is when there is a blockage in the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. Urethral obstruction makes it very difficult for the cat to empty the bladder and can be life-threatening. If cats can’t excrete waste and toxins, their kidneys may shut down.

🚨 Urethral obstructions can be life-threatening. They can lead to kidney failure and even death within a matter of days. Get your cat to the vet immediately if they’re unable to urinate.

  • Trauma. Injury to the urinary tract or the spinal cord can cause bleeding when a cat urinates. 
  • Bleeding Disorder. If your cat is bleeding when they urinate, they could have poorly functioning blood platelets. This can cause bleeding episodes.
  • Rat poison. While it’s rare, exposure to rodenticides can cause excessive bleeding.

⚠️ If you suspect that your cat has ingested poison, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435 immediately.

Getting your cat to the vet for diagnosis

If you suspect that your cat is urinating blood, do not take matters into your own hands. Take your cat to the vet so they can determine whether or not your cat is experiencing hematuria. Your vet will likely consider some of the following tests to diagnose the underlying cause of the bleeding: 

  • Your cat’s history. The first thing your vet will do is take a look at your cat’s medical history to see if there are any repeated issues causing the blood while peeing. 
  • Physical exam. Your vet will feel for any inflammation around your cat’s genitalia. 
  • Bloodwork. The veterinarian will be able to detect whether or not your cat’s organs are functioning. 
  • Urine culture, urine sample, or urinalysis. These are tests that a vet uses to identify bacteria that may be causing a UTI.
  • Ultrasound and x-rays. Ultrasounds can detect bladder stones and inflammation.

Treatment for hematuria

There is no way to self-treat your cat’s bleeding. The vet will prescribe a treatment plan for your cat depending on the cause of their hematuria. 

  • Antibiotics. Medication can rid a cat’s urinary tract or bladder infection. 
  • Diet changes. Your vet may prescribe a specific diet to treat the illness causing your cat’s bleeding. It may include wet food or a canned urinary prescription diet to increase hydration. Prescription diets can help do things like dissolve stones.
  • Hydration. The vet may give your cat fluids to help them flush out infection and toxins from urinary obstruction.
  • Surgery. If your cat has a urethral obstruction, the vet will need to sedate your cat and insert a catheter to manage your cat’s symptoms. Bladder stones may also require surgical removal.

How to help your cat recover at home 🏠

We know you may have to wait to get an appointment at the vet, but there are some things you can do at home to ease your cat’s pain in the meantime.

First and foremost, you should keep fresh water for your cat at all times. If they’re suffering from an infection, water can help wash away bacteria. Additionally, you should ensure your cat is as comfortable as possible. Place them near their bed and keep away stressors like loud noises or other animals.

Hematuria prevention

While you may not be able to directly prevent blood in your cat’s urine, you can take measures to prevent the illnesses that may cause bleeding. 

Feed them a healthy diet Diet plays a crucial role in keeping your cat healthy. You should also keep your cat active to prevent obesity. Wet food tends to be best for cats prone to urinary tract or bladder infections.

Provide lots of water Water is key for maintaining your cat’s health. Keep multiple bowls of fresh water around the house at all times. Kitty water fountains are great for this purpose. We love this fountain that encourages your cat to drink more, more often. 

Create a low-stress environment Stress is one of the leading causes of urinary and bladder issues in cats. Focus on environmental enrichment by incorporating things like relaxing music and new toys into your cat’s life. You should also keep them on a consistent routine to lower their stress levels. Feed them at the same time every day and try to prevent drastic changes in their life. 

👉The OSU Indoor Pet Initiative is a great resource with advice on various ways to reduce your cat’s stress levels

Keep litter boxes clean Vets also recommend keeping one litter box per cat, plus one. So if you have one cat, you should keep two litter boxes in your house, and clean them frequently. A cat’s litter box should be big enough for them to comfortably relieve their bladder. 

👉We recommend litter boxes that are 1.5 times the length of your cat. 

Frequently asked questions

Can worms cause bleeding in cats?

Worms can cause bleeding, but it’s very rare. They are more likely to cause bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract as opposed to the urinary tract. If worms are causing blood in your cat’s, it would likely be due to rare bladder worms or the Giant Kidney Worm that lives inside the kidneys. 

What if my cat is acting normal? 

If your cat is not displaying obvious discomfort but is still bleeding, you need to get them to the vet right away. 

Why is my cat’s bladder inflamed?

Cystitis is a typical cause of bladder inflammation in cats. Cystitis can cause a layer of the bladder to weaken, thus exposing the bladder to the chemicals in urine. This in turn can cause inflammation. 

Can stress make a cat pee blood? 

Yes! There is a neurogenic connection between the nervous system and bladder wall inflammation. Cystitis caused by stress causes bleeding.  

Can dry cat food cause blood in urine? 

Feeding only dry food can make cats more prone to urinary issues. A lack of hydration, especially when eating, can cause difficulty when your cat urinates. 

Is a cat peeing blood an emergency?

Yes. If your cat is peeing blood we recommend getting them to the vet as soon as possible. While they may not always be bleeding because of a life-threatening issue, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bleeding will likely not subside on its own and requires treatment. Pet owners should get their cat to the vet right away.