Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are rarer in cats than they are in dogs however, senior cats can develop more issues in their urinary tract that resembles the symptoms of a UTI. In this blog, our vets in White Settlement discuss the causes and symptoms of UTIs in cats and how you can help them.
Urinary Tract Infections in Cats
Even though urinary tract issues are regularly found in felines, cats are at a higher risk of urinary tract disease than infections.
When cats do experience urinary tract infections they will usually also be suffering from endocrine diseases, such as. diabetes mellitus and, hyperthyroidism and the majority of the felines that develop this are 10 years old or older.
If your cat is showing any UTI symptoms (see below) and is diagnosed with an infection like cystitis your vet will prescribe an antibiotic to help your kitty fight the UTI.
The symptoms most often seen in cats with a urinary tract infection include straining to urinate, reduced amounts of urine, not urinating at all, pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood, and urinating around the house, outside of the litter box.
If your cat is displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above your kitty might be experiencing a UTI however, these symptoms could also be a sign of a feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).
Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD
FLUTD, Feline lower urinary tract disease is actually an umbrella term that refers to numerous clinical symptoms. FLUTD can cause issues in your cat’s urethra and bladder, often leading the urethra to become obstructed, or preventing your cat's bladder from emptying properly. 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).
What Causes 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 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.
What are the 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:
- 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
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 symptoms listed 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.
How is Feline Urinary Tract Disease Diagnosed?
If you believe your feline friend might be experiencing problems with their lower urinary tract, contact your vet immedietly, especially if your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain.
Your vet will conduct a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your cat's condition. Radiographs might also need to be done.
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:
- 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
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.