Urine problems are quite commonplace in the world of cats. From urinary tract infections to urine crystals, some minor urine problems are easily diagnosed and treated. From time to time, however, your cat may display symptoms of a more serious urinary problem. One symptom of a potentially severe medical condition in your cat is foamy or frothy urine. If your cat has foamy urine, act immediately as this could be a sign of kidney disease, cancer, or liver problems.
What causes foamy urine in cats?
Says Hanen Abdel Rahman The most obvious cause of foamy urine is the speed of urination. … Sometimes, urine can also foam up when it’s concentrated. Your urine is more concentrated if you haven’t had much water to drink and you’re dehydrated. Foamy urine can also indicate that you have too much of a protein, such as albumin, in your urine.
How to Diagnose Foamy Cat Urine
Call your veterinarian. Explain your cat’s situation, and set up an appointment for an exam.
- Observe your cat’s urinary symptoms. It may be gross but look at the urine. Make a note of the color, smell, and how foamy it is, as well as how often those symptoms are present, whether or not it always smells the same or is the same color and whether or not your cat is in pain when urinating.
- Examine your cat’s other symptoms. Make a note of eating habits, such as whether it is eating or avoiding food, whether its behavior has changed, whether it is sleeping more or vocalizing excessively. Look for yellowing in the whites of the eyes or on the tongue or weight loss. Make a note of anything out of the ordinary that your cat may be doing.
- Attend the veterinary appointment. Present the veterinarian with all of the information you’ve taken regarding your cat’s symptoms and condition.
- Allow your veterinarian to perform diagnostic tests on your cat. Examples of tests for urinary problems include urinalysis, bloodwork, urine culture, urine protein, creatine ratio, or serum biochemistry profile. The tests will help determine the exact cause and best course of treatment for the underlying cause of your cat’s foamy urine.
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Causes of proteinuria in cats
Potential sources of excessive protein within the urine include all of the different structures within the urinary tract. The protein can also originate from portions of the reproductive tract that are anatomically connected to the urinary tract (prostate gland, uterus, and vagina). Sampling the urine directly from the urinary bladder with a needle (cystocentesis) can help reduce contamination as the urine passes out of the body.
The most common causes of proteinuria include:
- Too much protein within the bloodstream (hemoglobin, globulin, myoglobin, immunoglobulin) resulting in excess protein filtered into the urine
- Inflammation such as that caused by feline interstitial cystitis, stones, polyps or tumors
- Glomerular disease
Symptoms of proteinuria in cats
In and of itself, proteinuria does not cause any symptoms. When symptoms do arise, they are typically a result of the underlying cause of this disorder. For example, when proteinuria is caused by cystitis (inflammation of the bladder wall), symptoms commonly include:
- Increased frequency of urination
- Straining to urinate/inability to urinate
- Blood within the urine
Proteinuria caused by glomerular disease is often associated with chronic kidney disease. The following symptoms may be observed when chronic kidney disease is advanced:
- Increased thirst and urine output
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis of proteinuria in cats
The first step is documentation of proteinuria. This begins with the urinalysis. On appropriate urine samples, the amount of protein lost will be measured using a combination of the tests recommended by your veterinarian.
When honing in on the underlying cause of the proteinuria, in addition to a thorough physical examination, diagnostic steps may include:
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Blood pressure measurement
- Infectious disease testing
- Complete blood cell count (CBC)
- Blood chemistry profile
- Urine culture
A clear-cut diagnosis of glomerular disease requires a kidney biopsy. This can be accomplished via surgery, laparoscopy, or with ultrasound guidance. Whichever method is used, the collection of a kidney biopsy has the potential to cause significant complications. Thoughtful discussion with a veterinarian about risks and benefits should always precede a kidney biopsy. Click here to learn more about the glomerular disease.
Treatment and prognosis of proteinuria in cats
Both the treatment of proteinuria and prognosis associated with this disorder vary enormously depending on the underlying cause. For example, an infection within the lower urinary tract typically resolves with a course of antibiotics and the prognosis is excellent. Some cats with glomerular disease respond favorably to treatment while others do not. The long-term prognosis for a cancerous process within the urinary tract is usually quite poor.