Information on the causes and symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats.
Select a Topic
- What is a Urinary Tract Infection
- Causes of Urinary Tract Infections
- Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections
- Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
- Help for Urinary Tract Infections
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Urinary tract infections in cats cause urination to be extremely painful. These infections occur when normal bacteria from the skin or gastrointestinal system enter the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the exterior of the body through which urine flows), the bladder or any other part of the urinary tract. Because the infection makes urination painful, it can cause incomplete emptying of the bladder and, in some cases, urethral blockages that can become fatal.
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a term used to describe the collection of common conditions that affect a cat’s bladder and urinary tract, including urinary tract infections and bladder inflammation. Some symptoms that can indicate a feline UTI include blood in the urine, frequent urination, painful urination and licking of the genitals1.
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?
Bladder stones, bladder inflammation, bladder tumors or abnormalities of the structure of the urinary tract can cause and increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
Older cats are more prone to UTIs due to a weakened immune system or underlying disease, like diabetes. Cats that are overweight, get little exercise, have no access to the outdoors and eat a dry-food diet are also more prone to UTIs. Male cats at an average age of 4 years are more prone to urinary tract disease due to their longer, narrower urethra. Environmental factors like multi-cat households, emotional stress and disruptions to daily routine can also raise your cat’s risk of developing UTIs1.
If left untreated, urinary tract infections can lead to more serious health complications such as kidney infections.
Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections
So how do you know if your cat has a urinary tract infection? Your vet will diagnose a urinary tract infection based on your pet’s symptoms, medical history and a physical examination. A urine test will be performed to check for high pH balance, the presence of bacteria, crystals, and red and white blood cells. Additional tests such as a urine culture, blood tests, X-rays and an ultrasound may be performed if there are recurring infections or to determine the cause of underlying diseases or abnormalities.
Symptoms and signs
The common symptoms and signs of urinary tract infections include:
- Straining to urinate
- Licking of the genitals
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Urinating without passing much urine – only drops
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in litter box habits
- Strong smell of ammonia in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Prolonged squatting or crying out while trying to urinate
Help for Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. However, antibiotics do not address the cause of the infection, and frequent use of antibiotics can weaken the immune system and cause recurring infections. In more severe cases or with persistent urinary tract infections, your vet may recommend surgery or catheterization.
Cat UTI Prevention
To help avoid UTIs, make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water and feed her small, frequent meals. Your vet may recommend canned food instead of dry to promote hydration. Provide more than one litter box, keep it clean, and put it in a quiet place where she’ll feel safe. Also minimize stress by sticking to regular daily routines1.
There are natural methods that have proven to be highly effective in relieving symptoms and lowering the risk of urinary tract infections in pets.
UTI-Free™ for Urinary and Bladder Problems is a homeopathic medicine that can relieve symptoms like straining and frequent urination while supporting a healthy bladder and immune system. Urinary ComboPack for Pets adds an herbal supplement to promote healthy kidneys and endocrine function for your pet’s overall well-being.
Resource:1. "Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease." Avma.org. Accessed July 05, 2019. https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/FLUTD.aspx