Lower urinary tract infections in cats may be obstructive or non-obstructive.
Obstructive infections are caused when crystals comprised of minerals bind together. These minerals are those that are not absorbed by the digestive system. Small crystalline stones form in the urethral passage and prevent the free flow of urine. Since the urine is being produced by the kidney’s it accumulates in the bladder due to the blockage. An accumulation of urine causes numerous symptoms that include feline urinary incontinence.
The treatment of obstructive infections depends largely upon the status of the disease.
- Some types of stones are amenable to medical dissolution. In such cases, medication or special diets help in clearing the occlusion.
- Where medical dissolution is not possible, an effort is made to flush out the stone with diuretics and by increasing the intake of fluids. Antibiotics are administered for treating the accompanying UTI.
- Major obstructions may require catheterization, which requires inserting a catheter through the urethra for dislodging the stone and emptying the bladder. The catheter may be left in place for several days for better results.
- Sometimes the obstruction can be life threatening. In such cases the stones may need to be removed surgically.
- Male cats that are prone to recurrent bladder stones and the consequent blockage may require surgical enlargement of the urethra.
Non-obstructive urinary tract infection in cats can be caused due to various reasons and the treatment modalities are also different for each.
A small bladder can be one of the reasons for Non-obstructive urinary tract infection. Though seen in a small minority of cats, it is characterized by an urge to urinate with very little or no urine actually passing out. The treatment principles in such a case are similar to those used for obtrusive infections, albeit without the need to remove the obstruction.
Sometimes, the cause of a urinary infection can be unknown (idiopathic). Idiopathic Interstitial Cystitis is the most common type of urinary tract infection in dogs and cats. It is generally believed that it is a reaction of the immune system that causes painful inflammatory lesions in the bladder. Cats with idiopathic UTI are normally wrongly diagnosed as having behavioral problems since the urinalysis usually does not reflect any infection. The treatment in such instances is done by increasing fluid intake. There are suggestions that antidepressants may relieve bladder inflammation and the pain associated with the condition. There is no authentic data to support this at this stage.
The veterinary use of some other therapies approved for humans is still not fully verified and only supported by anecdotal evidence. Normally non-obstructive lower urinary tract infection in cats tends to remit and recur on its own in most of the cats regardless of medical intervention.