Living with an incontinent cat can be a challenging and frustrating experience.
No one likes having to clean up cat urine and poop, especially when it’s happening on a regular basis outside of their litter box.
However, when we bring cats into our homes we make a commitment to care for them through the good times and the bad.
At least, I did.
Doing anything other than caring for my aging incontinent cat the best way I possibly can didn’t cross my mind.
I’m writing this post to help anyone else caring for an incontinent cat. I want to reassure you that there is a lot you can do to help your cat and make your life easier.
Here is how I care for my cat, protect my furniture, make sure my home doesn’t smell, and enjoy living with my cat as much as I ever have.
What Is Cat Incontinence?
Cat incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine or fecal matter. Essentially, it means that your cat no longer has complete control over when they pee or poop.
This means that they will often not be able to make it to their litter box to do their business. Some cats will even urinate in their sleep and seemingly be unaware.
Incontinence is not to be confused with behavioral problems causing a cat to urinate or defecate around the home.
It’s not too difficult to separate behavioral issues and a medical cause such as incontinence. A vet will certainly be able to confirm this for you.
On a side note; I covered what the behavioral issue of middening is here and how I resolved it.
Why Is My Cat Incontinent?
There are a number of reasons why a cat is – or becomes – incontinent. The most common causes are:
- Reasons related to old age
- Defects from birth*
- Urinary tract deterioration
- Injury or trauma
*For an example of a birth defect, there is a condition called Manx syndrome. This is a rare condition that affects Manx cats, but it’s a condition known to cause urinary incontinence.
There can be any number of defects that cause incontinence, however. It’s something you should always get a vet to look at and accurately diagnose.
Living With an Incontinent Cat – What You’ll Have to Do
When living with an incontinent cat, you’re going to have to make some changes around the home.
It’s not too dissimilar to living with anyone with some special needs – you need to alter your environment to accommodate them.
Every cat is going to be affected differently and have their own specific needs, so you’ll need to make adjustments for your own cat and situation.
That said, here are the things I did that helped me better handle my cat’s incontinence and make both of our lives easier:
More Litter Boxes
This is the most obvious thing you can do to help minimize your cat peeing or pooping outside of their litter boxes and giving you more clean-up duties.
A lot of cats with incontinence will try and make it to their litter box, but just not have enough time.
So, making more boxes available is one way you can reduce the number of mishaps and accidents.
You could also use open litter boxes with lower sides for easier access. This is particularly helpful for older cats starting to find it difficult or painful to climb into boxes with higher sides.
Protect Your Furniture
If you’ve owned cats for any number of years, you’ll know how bad cat urine or poop can smell and how hard it can be to clean up.
And, of course, you want to protect your furniture from being damaged.
Depending on where your cat spends time and what type of furniture you have, you’re going to have to invest in some kind of waterproof protector.
I managed to get away with putting mattress protectors on the two beds my cat had access to, as well as putting a similar waterproof material under the blankets where she sleeps.
My incontinent cat is elderly, so she doesn’t frequent many spots and is almost always in the same places.
If you have a much more active cat, you’re going to have to be more creative in where you put protective sheeting, and even where you allow your cat to relax or sleep.
Good Cleaning Products
Not many people enjoy cleaning up cat mess, but unfortunately, it’s part of the deal when living with an incontinent cat.
The not-so-secret weapon here is using enzyme cleaners. Enzyme cleaners are cleaning products that use enzymes to break down stains and really break up the stain and fully remove it.
Basically, they are the most effective cleaning products when it comes to cleaning up pet stains of any type and getting rid of odors!
If you haven’t tried an enzyme cleaning product, you really should. They’re not that expensive, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine using any other type of product on pet stains and mess.
Here is the product I’m currently using and how you can find it on Amazon:
Simple Solution Pet Stain and Odor Remover | Enzymatic Cleaner
Work With Your Vet
Sometimes, there are medications that can help incontinent cats, particularly if their incontinence is related to a health issue that can be treated.
In my case, our vet told me there was nothing they could do for my elderly cat that had developed incontinence due to old age.
She was suffering from hyperthyroidism, which is common in older cats, but there really was nothing medically that could be done for her.
This isn’t always the case though. You should always have your cat checked out by your vet for a full examination and see if there is anything they can prescribe to help.
Give Your Cat a Smaller Space in Doors
There is nothing wrong with restricting where your cat can go in your home if their incontinence is causing them to foul all over the home.
As long as it’s done right – which means meeting all of your cat’s basic needs (and more) – it’s not cruel or bad for them in any way.
Your main priority is making sure your cat is physically and mentally as well looked after as possible.
As long as you can do this, doing so while restricting where they can roam can work out as a win-win for the both of you.
The goal is to create a fun environment for your cat while keeping a better grip on where they are losing bladder control so your job of cleaning up is easier!
Can Cats Recover From Incontinence?
According to PetMD, “Most cats suffering from incontinence will respond well to medications and will have a full recovery.”
So there is certainly hope if you haven’t yet taken your cat to your vet for a diagnosis.
Having your cat seen by a vet should always be the first thing you do when you suspect – or clearly know – that your cat is incontinent.
Sadly there was no medical solution for my cat, which is why I’m explaining how I adjusted to help my cat – but I hope there is a medical solution for your cat.
Living with an incontinent cat might not – or doesn’t – have to be as much work and as frustrating as you may think.
I even know some cat parents who are happy to adopt incontinent cats. They tell me the reward of knowing they’re giving a home to a cat in need far outweighs the effort involved.
That’s pretty powerful. I hope you find a way to give your cat the best possible care and life and
Image credits – Header Photo by Orxan Musayev, in-body image by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash