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Why Is My Cat Squatting But Not Peeing? (What to do?)

When I first became a cat parent over 30 years ago, I did not know the first thing about taking (excellent) care of my kitty. I might add that my high school daughter found this first kitty and begged me to rescue it. I did not want pets, but eventually, I gave in to her relentless begging.

Giving this precious white short-haired kitty a home was one of the best decisions that led my hubby and me into the world of feline rescue. Little did I know then that this first kitty would lead us on a 40-year path that would fill our lives and hearts with never-ending joy that seemed to help soften some of the sorrows of pet ownership.

I never realized until a few years later that cats and humans closely parallel each other regarding illness’s signs and symptoms. I have been a nurse for many years and was amazed at how easy it was to target possible illnesses in my felines when I compared them to my human patients or me.

*You must rely on the vet to target the reason for specific symptoms and initiate treatment to get the cat on a healthy path.

Why is My Cat Squatting but Not Peeing? 

Imagine that one day you go into the bathroom to pee but cannot; wouldn’t that raise some red flags that you may have a health issue? 

If your cat is squatting to pee but cannot, this warrants an emergency vet visit as much as it would for you to call your doctor or visit the emergency room if you had the same problem. Over-extended bladders in cats and humans can only take so much fluid before rupturing.

If you suddenly cannot pass urine, it would be sensible to think that you possibly had a UTI (urinary tract infection), cystitis, or a urinary tract obstruction, all of which can become a severe health crisis over a few hours.

The pain you undoubtedly experience will be the factor that sends you to the hospital emergency room. When you cannot pass urine, your system can become toxic, and you may end up in the hospital, which holds for your cat. You could die, and so could your kitty.

The difference between a cat and a human is that a cat is a master at hiding pain and discomfort. A cat’s ability to hide pain makes it difficult to tell if it is uncomfortable or in pain. You can use yourself as a reference point. If you have pain with the same issue, so will your cat.

How do you know your cat is uncomfortable? You would be uncomfortable if you had a urinary tract issue, and your cat is no different.

  • Cats hide discomfort and pain until the pain becomes awful and your cat may cry or whine and try to get your attention.
  • If your cat constantly goes into its litter pan but is unable to pee or poo.
  • Your cat may start to lay down in the litter pan.

*Cat parents must be vigilant of the needs of their fur babies. 

Cats have a long thin tube running from the bladder where urine passes. This tube can develop a spasm. This tube can also become obstructed with crystals or tiny stones, much like if you had kidney or bladder stones. I might add that male neutered cats are more susceptible to UTIs.

If you see that your cat cannot pee, it may have a,

  • Lower urinary tract disease is called FLUTD. However, you do not notice that your cat is in any discomfort.
  • Bladder crystals or stones
  • Cystitis
  • Hormonal Imbalance

Your vet may ask about the frequency your cat enters the litter pan, how much it pees, and when you started to notice problems.

When a cat strains to pee and cannot pass urine or passes only a few drops of urine, it could have cystitis or inflammation of its bladder. It takes the expertise of your vet to diagnose the problem.

What to Do About My Cat Squatting but Not Peeing? 

When anything happens to my cats, I often think the worst: human nature. I wonder if they have a tumor or cancer? Urinary tumors in cats are not unheard of but are rare. UTIs in cats are all too common, easy to treat, and deadly if you do not seek treatment as soon as possible, such as,

  • In the middle of the night
  • Anytime after vet hours
  • On the weekend after vet hours
  • During the holidays

These symptoms cannot wait until it is more convenient for you to take your cat for treatment! Your cat could suffer a ruptured bladder! Some folks do not want to bother their vet at an untimely hour. Remember, this is why your vet decided to be a vet.

Possible Treatment Options

Depending on your vet’s diagnosis, the doctor could order the following to make your kitty more comfortable.

  • Admit the kitty to the hospital
  • Antibiotics IV, IM, or oral
  • Subcutaneous or IV fluid therapy to help flush out the urinary tract and bladder.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Pain medication
  • Maybe insert a urinary catheter into the bladder to empty it or help break up stones in the tube. (sedation is typically used)
  • Ensure your cat has fresh water in the morning and at night. (I use filtered water.)
  • Moist food provides extra fluid.

You may wonder if you should decide to put your kitty down. I think not; not until you get a definitive diagnosis. This question seems silly, given that you would not expect to get your last will and testament ready if you had a UTI.

Some aged cats do fine in all aspects of daily living, except that they may not be able to climb into a litter pan due to arthritis, so cat parents feel it is time to put the kitty down. I say you need to consider options that would make life easier for your kitty as they age.

For example, we had a 19-year-old kitty who started peeing on the floor by the litter pan. This cat tested negative in all tests. She was eating, drinking, active, and attentive to her surroundings. I asked myself this silly question,

“Would I put grandma down if she became incontinent?”

We laid a large Attends pad in front of the litter pan to make life easier for this kitty, which did not affect the other five cats.

We changed the pads as soon as she used them. At 22, cancer became a major issue. Now I could safely decide to put her down because life was too hard and uncomfortable for her.

I am trying to say, “Give your kitty a chance to heal before deciding to euthanize.”

Yes, it costs money for the vet. Before adopting a cat or dog, be sure that you realize that your pet needs medical attention as much as you. Be prepared to open your wallet for vaccinations, wellness visits, and unplanned emergencies.

Weigh the treatment pros and cons and discuss treatment options with your vet and how they can help you if your budget is tight. Feline UTIs can return, so the vet may prescribe preventive treatment such as, but not limited to,

  • The vet may tell you to make sure you provide moist food in addition to dry food because it provides additional liquid.
  • The vet may recommend cat food that is low in ash.
  • The vet may order random subcutaneous fluids to help keep the urinary tract healthy.