My 14 year old cat is urinating on our son's bed. Can you tell me what might cause this? Our vet told us this often happens when they have UTI. And can you tell me what to do to avoid another instance? My cat is difficult to handle and it is difficult to take her to the vet.
Thank you for your question. This is an extremely common concern. However, the causes can actually be quite varied. The most common concerns are urinary stones, urinary tract infections, behavioral problems, and interstitial cystitis - a poorly understood and frustrating condition that is also known as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), or feline urologic syndrome (FUS). Of these, urinary tract infections are actually the LEAST common, accounting for 1-2% of cases. Occasionally, other issues such as cancer of the bladder wall may be responsible in older cats. In some cases, multiple problems are involved (e.g. urinary stones that develop secondary to a urinary tract infection).
In general, the starting point for assessing these issues includes a VERY thorough history, full blood work and urinalysis, culture of a urine sample that has been obtained in a sterile fashion, and imaging (ideally ultrasound) of the urinary tract. Treatment recommendations obviously will depend completely on the results of these tests. Some potential scenarios include: antibiotics for an infection, surgery or a special diet to remove/dissolve stones, and identifying and modifying/ameliorating behavioral causes. One hint: Finding the cause is generally key to determining the solution. Repeated guessing and ineffective antibiotics trials are not a good substitute for the tests that will help determine the cause.
All of these causes, tests, and treatments should be discussed with your regular veterinarian. Some of the tests and treatments can probably be done at your local veterinarian’s office. Others may require referral to a specialist. In fact, early referral to a specialist sometimes can actually save a bundle of money (on medical bills and laundry!) if the answer is not quickly identified and resolved by your regular veterinarian.
A final word: As noted above, this is a very common problem and can be very frustrating (i.e. daily laundering of bed linens and carpets). Many cat owners deal with this issue at some point, so you certainly are not alone! If you pursue appropriate testing, there generally are answers, and often are solutions, as well.
I hope this helps you identify and resolve the problem!