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Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Although urinary tract infections in cats are rare when compared to their frequency in dogs, older cats may experience a whole host of urinary tract issues that may cause similar symptoms to a UTI. Here, our Gilbert vets share some of the symptoms, causes and treatments for urinary tract infections and related diseases in cats. 

Urinary Tract Infection - Cat

Although urinary tract issues can be quite frequent in cats, our feline friends are more prone to diseases than infections affecting their urinary tracts. 

When a cat develops a urinary tract infection, it's often also the case that they suffering from endocrine diseases like diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism. Most of these cats are 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 common symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats include difficulty urinating, reduced amount of urine passed, completely stopping urination, urine tinged with blood and urinating around the house. 

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

Flein lower urinary tract disease—or FLUTD—is actually an umbrella term for numerous clinical symptoms related to your cat's urinary tract. FLUTD can cause your kitty's bladder and urethra to experience issues like becoming obstructed or not emptying properly. These kinds of conditions can be life-threatning and similarly serious if not promptly treated. 

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 relatively complex condition to treat and diagnose. This is because there are numerous contributing factors and possible causes. Stones, crystals or debris can build up gradually in your cat's urethra or bladder, for example. 

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

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

Urinary tract disease in cats is most often diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who have little to no access to 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. 

Cats can also become more vulnerable to urinary tract disease if they use an indoor litterbox, share a household with multiple cats, experience abnormal stress or experience sudden changes to their routines. 

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:

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

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 above symptoms all indicate a serious medical issue that may lead to health problems like rupturing of your cat's bladder or failure in their kidneys. FLUTD, if not detected and treated early, can be fatal.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If you believe that your feline friend may be having problems with their lower urinary tract, contact your vet right away, especially if your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain.

Your veterinarian will conduct a series of physical exams and diagnostic tests to assess your cat's symptoms and behaviors. They will also perform a urinalysis to get some further insight into your cat's condition.

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:

  • Modified diet
  • Fluid therapy
  • Increasing your kitty's water consumption
  • Urinary catheter or surgery for male cats to remove urethral blocks
  • Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
  • Expelling of small stones through the urethra
  • Urinary acidifiers

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.

Feline lower urinary tract disease and urinary tract infections are both conditions that demand immediate veterinary care for your kitty. Contact Crossroads Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible if you suspect that your cat is showing signs of either condition. 

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