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Key takeaways

Dark urine is a common observation in cats and may be an indication of a medical concern in some cases.

  • Fluctuations in color and character of urine throughout the day are normal and expected in healthy individuals
  • Dark urine may be abnormal when it is accompanied by other symptoms including straining to urinate, blood in the urine, increased frequency of urination, and pain while urinating
  • Abnormally dark urine may be discolored due to the presence of blood, bile, byproducts of metabolism, or other pigments
  • Some conditions that may be associated with dark urine include kidney disease, cancer of the urinary system, dehydration, poisoning, and immune mediated disease
  • Diagnostics can include urinalysis, blood work, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging
  • Treatment varies widely depending on the underlying condition but can include benign neglect, antibiotics, surgery, symptom management, and dietary/lifestyle modifications
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A closer look: Dark Urine in Cats

Dark urine is not always a sign of illness. Daily fluctuation in the color and character of urine is expected in healthy individuals.

When dark urine results from a medical condition, it is often seen in conjunction with other symptoms.

In the majority of cases where dark urine is a symptom of an underlying condition, dark urine is rarely the only condition present. It almost always occurs in conjunction with other symptoms related to the condition.

If dark urine is accompanied by certain symptoms (blood in the urine, straining to urinate), immediate medical attention should be sought to determine the cause. Unproductive attempts to urinate are always a medical emergency.

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Possible causes

Dark urine can be a normal fluctuation in a healthy cat. In other cases, it can be the result of other conditions.

Risk factors

All healthy cats are expected to have fluctuation in the color of urine throughout the day. The presentation of dark urine can vary in a number of ways:

  • Depth of color: urine can be slightly darker than clear or a dark brown.
  • Frequency: the occurrence of dark urine is constant (chronic) or a recent (acute), appears regularly or rarely.
  • Timing: dark urine may appear only at the beginning of urination, throughout the stream, or at the end of voiding. The severity and risk of dark urine to overall health is dependent on the underlying cause.

Testing and diagnosis

After a medical history and physical examination, diagnostics depend on the associated symptoms and suspected causes and can include;

  • Urinalysis
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Blood work

Urinalysis is necessary for identifying the substance causing the urine to appear dark.

Urine can be fully characterized after testing by the presence of hemoglobin, myoglobin, blood, bile, or other pigments affecting the color of the urine.

Treatment varies depending on the root cause and can include;

  • Dietary modifications
  • Antibiotics
  • Symptom management
  • Surgery
  • Benign neglect

Similar symptoms

Dark urine is not a symptom which can easily be mistaken for another symptom, but it does not always indicate an illness. The color of urine varies in a healthy cat.

Associated symptoms


Katie Grzyb, DVM - Writing for PetMD
Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA, CVJ - Writing for PetMD
Jennifer Coates, DVM - Writing for PetMD
Becky Lundgren, DVM - Writing for Veterinary Partner
Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP - Writing for Veterinary Partner

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