Urinary tract infections in cats occur infrequently, but they typically affect senior cats or those with an existing urinary tract condition. Our Diamond Bar vets will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for cats' urinary tract infections and diseases.
How common are cat urinary tract infections?
Cats often experience urinary problems, with a higher susceptibility to urinary tract disease than infection. Cats developing urinary tract infections typically contend with endocrine diseases like hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus, usually at 10 years of age or older.
If your cat exhibits symptoms of urinary tract infection (see below) and is diagnosed with cystitis, your vet may prescribe an antibacterial to combat it.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats include straining during urination, reduced urine output, absence of urination, pain or discomfort while urinating, or urine tinged with blood (pinkish in color).
However, several feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) could manifest similar symptoms to urinary tract infections (UTI) in your cat.
What is feline urinary tract disease (FLUTD)?
FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) encompasses various clinical symptoms that can obstruct your cat's urethra or hinder proper bladder emptying. Untreated, these FLUTD conditions can be fatal for cats.
If your cat has FLUTD, it may struggle with difficult, painful, or even impossible urination. Additionally, increased frequency of urination or inappropriate elimination, such as on cool surfaces like tile floors or bathtubs, may occur.
What causes feline urinary tract disease?
FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since multiple causes and contributing factors could be at play. Stones, crystals, or debris can gradually build up in your kitty's urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat's body) or bladder.
Other potential causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Spinal cord problems
- 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
Urinary tract disease in cats typically affects overweight, middle-aged cats with limited outdoor access, a dry diet, or insufficient physical activity. However, cats of any age can develop the condition. Male cats face a higher risk of urinary diseases due to their narrower urethras, making blockages more likely.
Other factors, including using an indoor litter box, experiencing emotional or environmental stress, residing in multi-cat households, or facing sudden changes to their routine, can increase a cat's vulnerability to urinary tract disease.
Determining the underlying cause is crucial if your cat is suffering from FLUTD. Symptoms of FLUTD may result from various serious conditions such as bladder stones, infections, cancer, or blockages.
If the veterinarian cannot identify the cause, your cat may be diagnosed with cystitis, a urinary tract infection characterized by bladder inflammation.
What are the common symptoms of cat urinary tract disease?
If you suspect your cat has FLUTD or a urinary tract infection, watch for common symptoms, such as:
- 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
Any bladder or urinary issues must be treated straight away. 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.
This is a medical emergency that can quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. It may also be fatal if the obstruction is not eliminated immediately.
Urinary Tract Infections & Your Cat's Recovery
If you suspect your cat is experiencing lower urinary tract issues, treat it as a medical emergency. Seek immediate attention from your vet, especially if your cat shows signs of straining during urination or vocalizes in pain.
Your vet will conduct a thorough physical exam to evaluate your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis for additional insights into their condition. Other diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound, radiographs, blood work, and urine culture may also be necessary.
Given the complexity and severity of urinary issues in cats, contacting your veterinarian promptly for immediate care is crucial. The prescribed treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms but may involve:
- 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.