While UTI's or urinary tract infections are more common in dogs than they are in cats, cats are still prone to other urinary tract concerns. Our Bedford vets discuss urinary tract infections in cats, what symptoms to look for and what you should do.
Cat Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are a condition that may occasionally affect our feline friends but our vets more commonly diagnose urinary tract disease rather than infections in cats. Typically cats that tend to develop urinary tract infections are often seen to suffer from endocrine diseases, such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus, and are usually older cats that are at least 10 years old.
If your vet assesses and diagnoses your feline friend with a urinary tract infection they will most likely prescribe antibiotics as part of the treatment plan.
If your cat is experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection you may notice that your cat is straining to urinate, is urinating less, not urinating at all, experiencing pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood (pink-ish color urine), and urinating in undesirable areas around the house (outside of the litter box).
While it very well could be a urinary tract infection that is causing your cat's symptoms, there are many feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) that could be causing your cat to experience signs similar to the UTI symptoms listed above.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease) is an overall term used to refer to numerous symptoms related to the urinary tract system. FLUTD is commonly known to cause issues within your cat’s urethra and bladder, potentially leading to obstructions, or preventing your cat's bladder from emptying properly. It is important to have these conditions treated immediately as they can be life-threatening.
When a cat is suffering from FLUTD, it can be difficult, painful or even impossible to urinate. 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 FLUTD
FLUTD can be incredibly difficult to diagnose and treat because of the multiple causes and contributing factors to this disease. One of the main causes of FLUTD is when crystals, stones or debris cause a build-up in your cat's urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat’s body) or bladder.
Other causes of lower urinary tract issues that are commonly noted in cats include:
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Spinal cord issues
- 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 is most commonly diagnosed in older cats and most frequently overweight, they typically eat a dry food diet or do not get enough physical exercise, although it is possible for cats of any age can get the condition. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases as their urethras are more narrow and therefore more likely to become blocked.
Cats are sensitive to environmental factors, such as a change in the household, stress, and the use of an indoor litter box, which can all leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.
The main goal once your cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD is to determine the root cause of the condition. FLUTD symptoms are most commonly caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.
Occasionally your veterinarian may be unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, in these cases, they may diagnose your cat with a urinary tract infection called cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder.
Symptoms of FLUTD
Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch for if your cat is suffering from FLUTD:
- 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
Any issues involving the bladder or urinary tract should be treated as soon as possible to decrease the risk of further complications. If left untreated, urinary issues in cats can cause the urethra to become partially or completely obstructed, which will lead to your cat being unable to urinate.
If left untreated the symptoms listed above can quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder, and ultimately be potentially fatal if the bladder were to rupture.
If your cat is crying from pain or straining to urinate you should call your vet and have them examined immediately.
Your vet will perform a thorough physical exam and monitor your cat's symptoms, as well as run all necessary diagnostics and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your cat's condition. Ultrasound, radiographs, blood work and a urine culture may also need be required.
Treatment for Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary issues in cats can be complex and serious, so the first step should be to visit 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 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.