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Key takeaways

Urinary tract cancer is an extremely rare condition in cats, with no known risk factors.

  • Can develop in the bladder, kidneys, ureters (tube connecting kidneys to bladder), urethra (tube where urine is expelled from the body), and prostate gland (in males)
  • The most common type of cancer to affect the urinary tract in cats is transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), which primarily affects the bladder
  • Common symptoms of urinary tract cancer include blood in urine, pain while urinating, and excessive urination
  • Diagnosis involves a combination of physical examination, blood work, biopsy, and diagnostic imaging
  • Treatment options vary in accordance with the kind of cancer and the affected part of the urinary tract, and include chemotherapy and surgery
  • Prognosis for feline urinary tract cancer is very poor
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A closer look: Urinary Tract Cancer in Cats

Cancer is defined as uncontrolled cell growth which often results in tumors and can spread to other parts of the body. Urinary tract cancer can affect different parts of the urinary tract.

The most common kidney cancer is carcinoma, although other cancers can occur.

Blood in the urine can occur but it is usually microscopic.

Lower urinary tract cancers can affect the ureters (the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), urethra (the tube that passes urine from the bladder out of the body), and bladder (the organ where urine is stored). It is a rare condition in cats. The most common form of lower urinary cancer is transitional cell carcinoma in the bladder. Other types of cancer may occur, and produce similar symptoms.

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Risk factors

Urinary tract cancer is an extremely rare condition. Affected cats are usually geriatric, or suffer from underlying conditions such as FeLV.

Urinary tract cancer affects less than 1% of the feline population, but 80% of cases are malignant and carry a very poor prognosis. Most cats die within a year from diagnosis. Cats showing symptoms of urinary tract cancer require prompt veterinary attention to begin therapeutic treatment or palliative care.

Cats showing symptoms such as straining to urinate, pain during urination, or lack of urine production require immediate veterinary attention to ensure there is no obstruction.

Possible causes

Urinary tract cancer is an idiopathic condition (of unknown cause), with no known predisposing risk factors.

Cats suffering from FeLV may be at greater risk of developing lymphoma of urinary origin.

Main symptoms

Note: inability to urinate is a medical emergency requiring urgent veterinary attention.

Testing and diagnosis

Symptoms of urinary tract cancer may be mistaken for urinary infections, making diagnosis complicated. Cats presenting with symptoms undergo diagnostics such as:

  • Physical examination
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood test
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Specialty imaging such as contrast cystourethrogram
  • Urinary antigen test
  • Biopsy
  • Cystoscopy

Steps to Recovery

Once diagnosed, treatment options include:

  • Surgical removal of tumors
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is generally only used in cases of lower urinary tract cancer as it is ineffective in the case of kidney cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Some forms of urinary tract cancer respond to some types anti-inflammatory medications

In many cases, treatment of urinary tract cancer focuses on palliative care due to poor prognosis. Palliative management may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Appetite stimulants
  • Antibiotics if urinary tract infections develop

Prognosis for urinary tract cancer is generally poor, with most animals having a 1 year life expectancy after diagnosis.

For cats suffering from TCC, prognosis is very poor, as even with treatment, recurrence and metastasis are very common. These cats often undergo palliative care or are euthanized.


Urinary tract cancer is not contagious. There is no way to prevent urinary tract cancer. Keeping up to date with vaccinations and annual veterinarian check-ups can help increase general health condition and increase early detection and treatment to maximize outcomes.

Is Urinary Tract Cancer in Cats common?

Urinary tract tumors are an extremely rare condition in cats.

Typical Treatment

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Palliative care
  • Supportive care

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