Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Cats
While cats often have urinary tract issues, our kitty companions are more prone to urinary tract disease than infections. Cats that do develop urinary tract infections are typically 10 years of age or older and often suffer from endocrine diseases, including hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus.
If your feline companion is displaying symptoms of a urinary tract infection (see below) and is diagnosed with cystitis, your veterinarian will prescribe and antibacterial to help battle your cat’s UTI.
The most common symptoms of urinary tract infection in cats include reduced amounts of urine, straining to urinate, pain or discomfort when urinating, not urinating at all, urinating around the house (outside the litter box), and passing urine tinged with blood (pinkish color urine).
These symptoms may be caused by a urinary tract infection, but there are also numerous feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) that may cause your cat to display the symptoms of UTI listed above.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) is actually a term that covers many clinical symptoms. FLUTD can lead to issues in your cat’s bladder and urethra, often causing the urethra to become blocked or preventing your cat’s bladder from properly emptying. Left untreated, these conditions can even become serious or life-threatening.
If your cat is suffering from FLUTD, they may find urination difficult, painful or impossible. They may also urinate more often, or in inappropriate areas outside the litter box (perhaps on surfaces that feel cool to the touch such as a bathtub or tile floor).
Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since there are multiple causes and contributing factors to this disease. Crystals, stones or debris can gradually build up in your cat's urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat’s body) or bladder. Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues 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 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.
Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households or sudden changes to their everyday routine can also leave cats 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 or infection due to cancer or a blockage.
If your veterinarian 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 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 genital area
It’s critical that any bladder or urinary issue be treated as early as possible. 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.
The symptoms above indicate a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately.
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 a urine culture may also need be done.
Treatment for Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary issues in cats can be either 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.
Both urinary tract infections and feline lower urinary tract infections require immediate veterinary care. Contact our Flat Rock vets at Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital & Veterinary Emergency Hospital today to book an appointment for your cat.
Looking for a vet in Flat Rock?We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
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