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Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

While they are much rarer than urinary tract infections in dogs, cats (senior cats in particular) do frequently experience other issues with their urinary tract. Today, our Fremont vets list symptoms, causes, and treatments for urinary tract infections and diseases in cats. 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Cats

Cats often experience urinary tract problems, with urinary tract disease being more common than infections. Urinary tract infections in cats usually occur in cats that are 10 years old or older and have endocrine diseases like diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism.

If your furry companion is displaying symptoms of a urinary tract infection (refer to the list below) and has been diagnosed with a concurrent infection like cystitis, your vet will prescribe an antibacterial medication to combat your cat's UTI. 

Cats with urinary tract infections often experience reduced urine output, difficulty urinating, blood-tinged urine, inappropriate urination, and discomfort during urination. 

Your cat's symptoms could be caused by a urinary tract infection. Several feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) could be the cause of your cat displaying the UTI symptoms mentioned above.

Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD encompasses a wide range of clinical symptoms. Your cat's bladder and urethra may be affected by the disease, leading to frequent urethral obstructions or hindering proper emptying of the bladder. Untreated, these conditions can escalate to a serious, potentially fatal state.

If your cat is suffering from FLUTD, urinating can become challenging, painful, or even impossible for them. They may also urinate more often or in places outside the litter box, like on cool surfaces such as a bathtub or tile floor, which can be soothing for them. 

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD can prove to be a complex condition to diagnose and treat since multiple causes and factors can contribute to the disease. Debris, stones, or crystals can accumulate in your cat's bladder or urethra (the tube that takes urine from the bladder to outside your cat's body) over time. 

Here are some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats:

  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors 
  • Spinal cord issues
  • Incontinence due to weak bladder or excessive water consumption 
  • Tumor or injury in the urinary tract 
  • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Urethral obstruction is caused by a buildup of debris from urine

Cats with urinary tract disease are often diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who have limited outdoor access, consume a dry food diet, or lack sufficient physical activity. However, this condition can impact cats of all ages. Urinary diseases are more common in male cats due to the narrower and more easily blocked urethras they have.

Cats can become more susceptible to urinary tract disease due to factors such as using an indoor litter box, experiencing emotional or environmental stress, living in multi-cat households, or facing sudden changes to their everyday routine.

Determining the underlying cause is crucial when your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD. Serious underlying health issues, ranging from bladder stones and infection to cancer or a blockage, can cause FLUTD symptoms.

If your veterinarian cannot identify the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your kitty might receive a diagnosis of cystitis, a urinary tract infection that leads to inflammation of the bladder.

Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats

If you suspect your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection, watch for 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 the genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

It is crucial to address any bladder or urinary issues promptly. If urinary issues in cats are not treated, they can lead to a partial or complete obstruction of the urethra, which can prevent your feline friend from urinating.

These symptoms suggest a severe medical problem that could rapidly result in kidney failure or bladder rupture. An obstruction that is not eliminated immediately can quickly prove fatal in cases of FLUTD.

Diagnosing 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 vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your cat's condition. Ultrasound, radiographs, blood work, and urine cultures may also need to be done.

Treatment for Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If your cat is experiencing urinary problems, it is crucial to seek immediate treatment from a veterinarian. These issues can be complex and potentially serious, so prompt medical attention is essential. Treatment for your cat's urinary symptoms will depend on the underlying cause. It 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

After treatment, a cat's recovery from a urinary tract infection is usually around seven to ten days. Your vet might request another urine culture to make sure all the bacteria has been taken care of.

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.

Both urinary tract infections and feline lower urinary tract disease are conditions that will need immediate veterinary care. Contact our Fremont vets today to have your cat examined.

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