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Howling when trying to pee.

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic shorthair
Age: 5-8 years
We took Ferna to the vet a few months ago for vomiting and they prescribed hairball r/x even though i saw no hairballs. vomitting continued/resumed. we took her again and they gave her a cortisone (i think) shot, saying maybe she had food allergies or possibly pancreatitis. She also wasn't eating enough. That was Thursday, I believe. We switched foods from duck and green pea to salmon and green pea (my other cat has IBS) and offer her innova cat & kitten wet food which she seems to eat in abundance now. there's also a petsmart sensitive solutions food available. Now she started howling when she tries to pea, poor baby, and hardly any pea comes out. my vet is closed today. please tell me that this can wait til tomorrow for medical care 'cuz the emergency vet is so expensive... And what's going on and what can we do tonight?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that you have had all of these problems with Ferna.

There are a few things that can cause a cat to howl when trying to urinate. The most common in a female cat is a condition called interstitial cystitis. We don't know how this happens but what we see is inflammation in the bladder. It feels like a bladder infection but there is no bacteria present, just inflammation.

While a UTI (infection) is possible it is actually not terribly common.

Another possibility is a bladder stone that is plugging up the urethra. However, this is extremely uncommon in female cats. If this was a male cat then I would be very concerned because a urethral blockage can be a life threatening emergency.


I wish I could tell you a home remedy but there really is none that is safe. When she does see a vet they will likely give her an anti-inflammatory injection and either prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to take home or an anti-anxiety medication such as amitryptiline. It is believed that interstitial cystitis is brought on by stress or anxiety.

Unfortunately any of the anti-inflammatory medications available over the counter can be harmful to cats.

Whether or not you go in for an emergency visit depends on how uncomfortable she is. If the behavior continues for more than a couple of hours then she really should be seen. However, I have seen some cats that are uncomfortable in spurts, so it is possible that she will have some relief shortly.

I really hope she is feeling better soon!

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

But the shot they gave her a few days ago was an antiinflammatory, and that's when her peeing problems began. Any ideas? S


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah yes...you did say she had a cortisone shot. If it was a short acting injection such as dexamethasone or prednisolone it may be that it has worn off by now.

However, if it was a long acting shot like depomedrol or depredil then this will be in her system for 4-6 weeks. If this is what she had then I am concerned that she may have one of the more uncommon problems such as a urinary tract infection or a urethral stone. If this is the case then unfortunately the sooner she is seen the better.

Sorry for the bad news.

Dr. Marie.



Customer reply:

It was the kind of shot that they said takes a few days to kick. The sooner the better...if we wait until tomorrow will she be okay? I have prednisone and cosequin at home for my other cat with interstitial cystitis... Thank you for helping me!!!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome. She will most likely be ok until tomorrow but use your judgement. If she is acting extremely uncomfortable for more than 2 hours in a row then she may need to go in on emergency.

I wouldn't give the prednisone as it could be harmful if there is still steroid in her system. However, the cosequin will not hurt and may actually help. Cosequin contains glycosaminoglycans (GAGS) that help to repair the bladder wall when injured.



Customer reply:

Last question :) What does acting extremely uncomfortable mean? (She only cries when she's trying to pee. Other than that and her resumed voracious appetite, I wouldn't have noticed any difference...) I'll give her cosequin as soon as she's willing to eat again.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, this is always a tough one to answer. I usually say to follow your gut. So, she is only crying when she's trying to pee. Now, if she is trying to pee constantly without ceasing then yes she is extremely uncomfortable. However, if she does it once or twice an hour then this is not so bad.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.