Our vets in Murfreesboro see far fewer urinary tract infections in cats compared to dogs. However, older cats frequently suffer from numerous other urinary tract conditions. Here, we describe urinary tract infections and other urinary conditions in cats.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection
While urinary tract issues are often diagnosed in cats, your kitty is more likely to suffer from a urinary tract disease rather than an infection.
However, when cats do experience urinary tract infections (UTIs), an endocrine disease such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism is often the cause. Cats who suffer from UTIs are also typically 10 years of age or older.
If your feline friend is showing symptoms of a urinary tract infection (as stated below) and is diagnosed with an infection such as cystitis, your veterinarian will likely prescribe an antibacterial to help your cat fight the UTI.
The most common symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats include reduced amounts of urine, straining to urinate, pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood, urinating around the house, outside the litter box, and/or not urinating at all.
If your cat is exhibiting any symptoms listed above, they might be suffering from a UTI. That said, these symptoms can also point to a feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).
Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD
Since there are multiple potential causes and contributing factors to FLUTD, it is a complex condition to diagnose and treat. Stones, debris or crystals can gradually accumulate in your cat's urethra - the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of your cat's body - or bladder.
Here are some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats:
- Congenital abnormalities
- Tumor or injury in the urinary tract
- Environmental or emotional stressors
- Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
- Spinal cord issues
Urinary tract disease is most often diagnosed in middle-aged, overweight cats who have little to no access to outdoors, do not get enough physical activity or eat a dry food diet. However, cats of any age can suffer from this condition. Since a male cat's narrow urethra is more likely to become blocked, they are more prone to urinary diseases.
Cats who are under environmental or emotional stress, use an outdoor litter box, experience sudden changes to their everyday routine or live in a multi-cat household may also be more susceptible 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 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 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
It’s critical that any bladder or urinary issue be treated as early as possible. Delays in treatment could lead to your cat's urethra becoming 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.
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 issues in cats can be complex and serious, so the first step should be to make an appointment with 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 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.