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Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Causes & Recovery

Several other urinary tract conditions can affect cats, especially older or male cats. In this blog, our veterinarians in Hermitage explain more about urinary tract infections and other urinary conditions in cats.

How do I know if my cat has a urinary tract infection?

Cats are known for their ability to hide discomfort, making it crucial for pet owners to recognize the subtle signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Symptoms of a cat urinary tract infection can vary but commonly include:

  • Frequent urination: If your cat frequently trips to the litter box but produces little to no urine, it could be a sign of a UTI.
  • Straining to urinate: Noticeable straining or discomfort while trying to urinate is a red flag.
  • Blood in urine: Blood-tinged urine is a clear indicator of a problem and warrants immediate veterinary attention.
  • Inappropriate urination: If your cat starts urinating outside the litter box, it might be due to the discomfort caused by a UTI.
  • Excessive licking: Cats with UTIs often lick their genital area more than usual to alleviate discomfort.
If you observe any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult with your veterinarian promptly.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD

FLUTD, Feline lower urinary tract disease, is actually an umbrella term that refers to numerous clinical symptoms. FLUTD can cause issues in your cat’s urethra and bladder, often obstructing the urethra or preventing the bladder from emptying properly. These conditions can be serious or even life-threatening if left untreated.

Urinating can be difficult, painful, or impossible for cats suffering from FLUTD. They may also urinate more frequently or in inappropriate areas outside their litter box (occasionally on cool surfaces, such as a tile floor or bathtub).

What causes urinary tract infections in cats?

Due to the various causes and factors involved, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Crystals, stones, or debris can accumulate in your cat's urethra or bladder, leading to potential blockages.

Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:

  • Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
  • Spinal cord issues
  • Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
  • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
  • The formation of urinary crystals or stones can irritate the bladder and urethra, leading to infection. 
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors

Urinary tract disease in cats is most often diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who have little to no access to the outdoors, eat a dry food diet or do not get enough physical activity. However, cats of any age can suffer from FLUTD. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since they have a narrower urethra that is more likely to become blocked.

Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats

If your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to urinate
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate settings
  • Avoidance or fear of litter box
  • Strong ammonia odor in urine
  • Hard or distended abdomen
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

Treating any bladder or urinary issues as soon as possible is important. If left untreated, the condition could lead to a completely blocked urethra. This is an emergency situation, as your cat will not be able to urinate at all and could experience kidney failure or a ruptured bladder. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) can quickly become fatal if an obstruction is not removed immediately.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Urinary tract infections in cats and FLUTD require veterinary care. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above, it's time to visit the vet. If your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain, contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet as soon as possible.

Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your kitty's condition. They may also do additional diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or bloodwork, to help them diagnose your cat's condition. 

What can you give a cat for a urinary tract infection?

Treating a cat urinary tract infection typically involves a combination of medication, dietary changes, and increased hydration. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Antibiotics: Your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. It is crucial to complete the full course of antibiotics before finishing the medication, even if your cat appears to recover.
  • Pain Relief: If your cat is in significant discomfort, your vet may prescribe pain relief to help manage the symptoms.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Specially formulated diets can help prevent the recurrence of UTIs by promoting a healthy urinary tract. However, these diets often reduce mineral content, which can lead to stone formation.
  • Increased Hydration: Encouraging your cat to drink more water can help flush out the urinary system. Consider adding wet food to their diet or using a pet water fountain to entice them to drink more.
  • Always follow your veterinarian's advice and never give your cat over-the-counter medications or treatments without professional guidance.

Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery

Recovery from a urinary tract infection in cats involves consistent care and monitoring. Ensure your cat completes the entire course of prescribed medications, and follow any dietary recommendations from your vet. Monitor their litter box habits and look out for any recurrence of symptoms. Regular veterinary check-ups can help catch any potential issues early and maintain your cat's urinary health.

Recognizing the signs of a urinary tract infection in your cat and seeking prompt veterinary care is essential. You can help ensure a swift recovery and prevent future infections with the right treatment and preventative measures. Always consult with your veterinarian to tailor the best care plan for your feline friend.

By staying vigilant and proactive, you can help your cat live a healthy, comfortable life free from the discomfort of urinary tract infections.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing signs of a urinary tract infection? Contact our Hermitage vets to book an examination or bring your cat in for urgent care during our regular clinic hours.

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