Cat Urinary Tract Infection - What You Need To Know

Although they are rare when compared to the occurrence of Urinary tract infections in dogs, older cats may experience UTIs or other urinary tract issues that cause similar symptoms. Here, our Ventura vets share the causes, symptoms and treatments for these infections and related diseases in cats.

Urinary Tract Infection - Cat

Although issues with their urinary tract is a common condition in cats, our feline companions are more prone to disease affecting their urinary tract than infection.

When cats do develop urinary tract infections, it is often the case that they suffer from endocrine diseases too, from diabetes mellitus to hyperthyroidism. And most of these diseases affect cats that are 10 years or older. 

If your cat is displaying symptoms of a urinary tract infection and is diagnosed with an infection like cystitis, your veterinarian will prescribe your cat with an antibacterial medication to fight your kitty's UTI.

The most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection in your cat will include: your cat straining to urinate, producing smaller-than-normal amount of urine, not urinating at all, discomfort or pain while urinating, urinating around the house and outside of their litter box and urine tinged with blood.

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above they may be suffering from a UTI but these symptoms could also be an indication of a feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD. 

Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD

Feline lower urinary tract disease (also known as FLUTD), is actually a broad term which refers to a number of different clinical symptoms. FLUTD can cause issues in your cat's bladder and urethra and cause their urethra to become obstructed or their bladder to improperly empty. These range of conditions can be quite serious or even life-threatening.

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 surfaces that are cool to the touch such as a tile floor or bathtub).

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD is a complicated condition to diagnose and to treat, since there are multiple causes and factors which contribute to this diseases. Stones, crystal or debris can gradually build up in your cat's bladder or urethra.

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

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

Urinary tract diseases in cats are most often diagnosed in overweight and middle-aged cats who have little or no access to the outdoors, eat dry food and dog's get enough physical activity. Mal cats are also more prone than females 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 vet isn't able to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your feline friend may be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection called cystitis, which is an inflammation of the bladder.

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:

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

It's important that any urinary issue or bladder problem receive treatment as quickly as possible. Any delay in treatment may lead to the urethra of your cat becoming either partially or completely obstructed, preventing them from urinating at all.

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.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If you suspect that your cat is having problems with their lower urinary tract, contact your vet as soon as possible, especially if your cat is straining to urinate or is crying in pain.

Your vet will perform a comprehensive physical exam in order to help assess your cat's symptoms as well as performing a urinalysis in order to gain further insight into your cat's condition. Further diagnostic testing may also be required by your vet.

Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery

Urinary tract issues in your feline companion can be serious and complex. So, the first step should be to make an appointment with your veterinarian for immediate care. The underlying cause of your cat's symptoms will determine what treatment is prescribed. They may include:

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

Urinary tract infections and FLUTD are both conditions which require immediate care if they appear in your cat. Contact our team of veterinarians and specialists at Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) today to ask about referrals and treatments. 

Cat Urinary Tract Infections - What Your Need To Know | Ventura Animal Hospital

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