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Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Our Statesboro vets see far fewer urinary tract infections in cats than in dogs, nonetheless, there are a number of other urinary tract conditions that frequently affect older cats. Below we explain more about urinary tract infections and other urinary conditions in cats.

Cat Urinary Tract Infection

Although urinary tract problems are common in cats, your cat is more likely to have a urinary tract disease than an infection.

However, urinary tract infections (UTIs) in cats are frequently the result of an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus. In addition, cats with UTIs are typically 10 years of age or older.

If your cat has an infection such as cystitis in addition to the urinary tract infection symptoms listed below, your veterinarian will prescribe an antibacterial to help treat the infection.

Cats with urinary tract infections frequently urinate in pain or discomfort, produce less urine, stop urinating altogether, pass blood-tainted urine, and urinate outside of the litter box or around the house.

If your cat exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, he or she may have a UTI, but these symptoms could also indicate feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD.

Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD

FLUTD, or feline lower urinary tract disease, is a catch-all term for a variety of clinical signs. FLUTD can affect your cat's urethra and bladder, frequently resulting in an obstruction or impairing proper bladder emptying. These conditions, if left untreated, can become dangerous or even fatal.

Urinating can be painful, difficult, or impossible for cats with FLUTD. Furthermore, they may urinate more frequently or inappropriately outside of the litter box (on cool-to-the-touch surfaces such as a tile floor or bathtub).

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since there are multiple causes and contributing factors to this disease. Crystals, stones or debris can gradually build up in your cat's urethra - the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat’s body - or bladder.

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
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors

Despite the fact that cats of any age can develop the condition, urinary tract disease in cats is most commonly diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats with limited to no outdoor access, dry food diets, or who do not get enough exercise. Male cats' narrower urethras make them more susceptible to urethral blockages, making them more susceptible to urinary diseases.

Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households, or abrupt changes in a cat's daily routine can all increase the risk of urinary tract disease.

If your cat has FLUTD, it is critical to identify the underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by a variety of serious underlying health problems, ranging from bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.

If your veterinarian is unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, he or she may be diagnosed with cystitis, which is bladder inflammation.

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 genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

Any bladder or urinary problem should be addressed as soon as possible. Delays in treatment may cause your cat's urethra to become partially or completely obstructed, making him unable to urinate.

The above symptoms point to a serious medical problem that could quickly lead to kidney failure or bladder rupture. If an obstruction is not removed immediately, FLUTD can quickly become fatal.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Urinary tract infections in cats require veterinary care, as do cats suffering from FLUTD. 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 cat may be experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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. Radiographs, blood work and a urine culture may also need to be done. 

Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery

Urinary problems in cats can be complicated and serious, so the first step should be to make an appointment with your veterinarian for immediate treatment. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will determine the treatment recommended, but it may include:

  • Increasing your kitty's water consumption
  • Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
  • Modified diet
  • Expelling of small stones through the 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.

Is your cat showing signs of a urinary tract infection? Contact our Statesboro vets at Statesboro Bulloch Regional Veterinary Hospital to book an examination for your cat, or contact your nearest veterinary emergency hospital for urgent care.

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