Urinary tract infections can be a painful and concerning condition for cats. In this post, our McAllen vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of urinary tract infections in cats.
Feline Urinary Tract Infections
While issues affecting cats' urinary tracts aren't uncommon, your cat is much more likely to suffer from urinary tract disease than they are an infection.
With that being said, cats can develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) when they are suffering from another condition or disease affecting their endocrine system like diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism. Most cats who develop UTIs are around 10 years old or older.
If your kitty is displaying symptoms of a urinary tract infection (see below) and is diagnosed with an infection such as cystitis your veterinarian will prescribe an antibacterial to help fight your cat's UTI.
The most commonly observed symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats include straining to urinate, not urinating at all, a reduced amount of urine, passing during tinged in blood, experiencing pain or discomfort while urinating, and urinating outside of their litter box.
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
FLUTD, Feline lower urinary tract disease, is an umbrella term for numerous different clinical symptoms affecting a cat's urinary tract. FLUTD is capable of causing several issues in your cat's bladder and urethra, often leading to the urethra becoming obstructed and stopping your cat from properly emptying their bowels. These conditions can be serious or even life-threatening if left untreated.
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 Urinary Tract Infections in cats
FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since there are several causes and contributing factors to this disease. Crystals, stones, and debris may slowly build up in your cat's urethra - the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat's body - or their bladder.
Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:
- Spinal cord issues
- Congenital abnormalities
- Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
- Emotional or environmental stressors
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
- Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
Urinary tract disease in cats is most often diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who have little to no access to the 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, environment or emotional distress, multicast households and sudden changes to your kitty's everyday routines can also leave your cat 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, infection, cancer, or a blockage.
If your vet can't determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your kitty may be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection like cystitis which is an inflammation of the bladder.
Signs of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
If your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Drinking more water than usual
- Loss of bladder control
- Urinating small amounts
- Strong ammonia odor in urine
- Avoidance or fear of litter box
- Hard or distended abdomen
- Excessive licking of the genital area
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Inability to urinate
- Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate settings
Any bladder or urinary issues must 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 listed above indicate a serious medical issue that may quickly lead to kidney failure or the rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can be fatal if there is an obstruction that isn't eliminated immediately.
Diagnosing 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 conduct a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to gain further insight into your cat's condition. Radiographs, blood work, and a urine culture may also need to be done.
Treating Cat Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary health issues in our feline friends can be both complex and serious, so the first step in your cat's care should be making an appointment with your vet. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will dictate what treatment is prescribed and may include:
- Fluid therapy
- Modified diet
- Increasing your kitty's water consumption
- Urinary acidifiers
- Expelling of small stones through the urethra
- Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
- 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.