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Cat Urinary Tract Infection & Treatment

While they are much more rare than urinary tract infections in dogs, cats (senior cats in particular) do frequently experience other issues with their urinary tract. Today, our Central Illinois vets list symptoms, causes and treatments for urinary tract infections and diseases in cats. 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Cats

While veterinarians often see urinary tract issues in cats, our feline companions are more prone to urinary tract disease than infections. Cats that do develop urinary tract infections often have endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism, and are typically 10 years of age or older. 

If your four-legged best friend is showing signs of a urinary tract infection (see list below) and is diagnosed with a co-occuring infection such as cystitis, your veterinarian will prescribe an antibacterial to help fight your cat's UTI. 

The most common symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats including reduced amounts of urine, not urinating at all or straining to urinate, passing blood-tinged (pinkish color) urine, urinating around the house outside of the litter box, and pain or discomfort when urinating. 

A urinary tract infection might be causing your cat's symptoms. That said, A number of feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) may be causing your cat to display the UTI symptoms listed above.

Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease) is an umbrella term that encompasses several clinical symptoms. The disease can lead to issues in your cat's bladder and urethra, often causing obstructions in the urethra or preventing your cat's bladder from correctly emptying. If left untreated, these conditions can turn serious or even life-threatening. 

Your cat will find it challenging, painful or impossible to urinate if he or she is suffering from FLUTD. They might also urinate more frequently, or in inappropriate areas outside the litter box (sometimes on surfaces that are cool to the touch such as a bathtub or tile floor, as they may feel more soothing). 

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD can prove to be a complex condition to diagnose and treat since multiple causes and factors can contribute to the disease. Debris, stones or crystals can accumulate in your cat's bladder or urethra (the tube that takes urine from the bladder to outside your cat's body) over time. 

Here are some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats:

  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors 
  • Spinal cord issues
  • Incontinence due to weak bladder or excessive water consumption 
  • Tumor or injury in the urinary tract 
  • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Urethral obstruction caused by buildup of debris from urine

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

Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households or sudden changes to their everyday routine can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.

If your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD it is essential to determine the underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.

If your veterinarian is unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your kitty may be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection called cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder.

Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats

If you suspect your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection, watch for 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 genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

It’s critical that any bladder or urinary issue be treated as early as possible. If left untreated, urinary issues in cats can cause the urethra to become partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent your feline friend from urinating.

The symptoms above indicate a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately.

Diagnosing Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If you believe that your feline friend may be having problems with their lower urinary tract, contact your vet right away, especially if your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain.

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 cat's condition. Ultrasound, radiographs, blood work and a urine culture may also need be done.

Treatment for Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Urinary issues in cats can be complex and serious, so the first step should be to visit your veterinarian for immediate care. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will dictate which treatment is prescribed, but may include:

  • Increasing your kitty's water consumption
  • Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
  • Modified diet
  • Expelling of small stones through urethra
  • Urinary acidifiers
  • Fluid therapy
  • Urinary catheter or surgery for male cats to remove urethral blocks

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.

Both urinary tract infections and feline lower urinary tract disease are conditions that will need immediate veterinary care. We are experienced in diagnosing and treating illnesses in pets. Contact us today

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