Cat UTIs: The Guide You Need
It may come to a surprise to most paw parents to learn that many health problems we experience on a daily basis may also affect our beloved feline friends.
From hip dysplasia to anxiety disorders, our paw friends can suffer from just about anything and everything under the sun that we may face as humans. Unfortunately, for us humans and our cats and dogs, urinary tract infections and diseases of the urinary tract exist and may cause significant distress and pain.
In an even worse sense, our felines and canines aren’t able to share with us what’s hurting them or how to help.
Here’s where we come in - sharing with you readily available information. In today’s article, we will discuss how your four-legged feline’s behavior is often an indication of bladder and or urinary issues. We’ll touch on what to look, how to act accordingly, as well as preventative measures you may want to consider.
If you’re lucky enough to get a negative diagnosis for a UTI, there may be another reason your cat is having urinary issues. Stay tuned!
Let’s get to it.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
I’m sure you’ve heard or read about UTIs, but if you’ve never had one you’re probably wondering, what exactly is it? Commonly referred to as a UTI, a urinary tract infection is defined as an infection of the bladder, urethra, or urinary system.
This infection has the potential to affect the kidneys, making a swift and accurate diagnosis crucial in order to prevent damage to any of the vital organs.
If a UTI goes without treatment a major invasion of microorganism bacteria may flourish, causing significant cell damage.
Remember, the key word here is infection. There are numerous bladder diseases NOT considered UTIs. Hang on that thought for one moment.
UTI vs Bladder Infection
Many individuals use the term bladder infection instead of UTI, vise versa. However, not all UTIs are bladder infections and not all bladder infections are UTIs.
If you have an upper UTI, medical attention is crucial in order to prevent a future kidney infection from developing.
UTI Cat Symptoms
Luckily, UTI symptoms are similar and comparable to those found in other UT disorders. Symptoms may include:
- Difficult urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Painful urination
- Urinating more than usual
- Urinating in inappropriate locations
- Blockage of urine flow
- Thick, hardened bladder wall
- Licking genitals
- Urine odor that is stronger than normal
Again, if you feline friend is having any of the above symptoms, it’s important that you seek proper medical attention from your veterinarian.
Even if the UTI diagnosis is negative, there may be another matter that needs addressing.
What Causes UTIs
Well, a UTI typically happens when bacteria moves into the urethra and into the bladder.
Healthy urine in the bladder, naturally, is sterile. However, when this bacteria enters the bladder, it can grow and multiply quickly, resulting in a UTI.
Many times, UT problems do not necessarily mean a UTI in cats.
Urinary tract disorders are more common than not in cats, whereas UTIs are relatively uncommon in our four-legged felines.
How to Diagnose a Cat UTI
Your vet will run a urinalysis and will either diagnose your cat with a negative or positive UTI. This urinalysis is necessary for determining if a bacterial infection is present.
The most commonly known organism to cause UTIs is Escherichia coli. But, do note, this is not the sole culprit responsible for the infection.
It’s also important that vets diagnose which organisms are involved in the infection so they can treat it appropriately.
Your vet may also order a complete blood count (CBC) panel in order to check your cat’s blood levels and help identify any underlying disease or other infection that may be bringing on the symptoms.
How to Treat a Cat UTI
If your cat did receive a positive UTI diagnosis, your vet will most likely prescribe antibiotics to successfully treat the infection.
A follow up appointment may be necessary in order to make sure the medication has been working to eliminate the infection as well as making sure the infection hasn’t spread to other organs or areas of the body.
Some individuals may believe that drinking cranberry juice will do just the trick to relive their own UTI…..so they assume it can help treat their cat’s UTI as well.
Well, this is not the case. Cat UTIs must be taken seriously and treated thoroughly. If not, serious conditions, including kidney disease, may develop.
How to Prevent Cat UTIs
First, knowing what initially caused the infection is key. Second, knowing what kind of infection you’re dealing with is crucial too.
As a feline parent, ensuring that your cat is getting a well-balanced diet and keeping a close eye on any changes in behavior are two ways to catch UTIs and treat it before it gets worse.
Experts encourage specific nutritional formulas that are created to support lower UT health.
Your vet will let you know if there is anything specific you can do for your cat to prevent UTIs from developing.
Is My Cat Predisposed to Getting UTIs
Studies have found that older cats are at a higher risk for developing urinary tract infections.
Cats that have bladder stones are more prone to getting UTIs, repeatedly. Scheduling regular vet visits and having appropriate urinalysis tests done will help ensure that your kitty’s body is functioning and working properly.
What is FLUTD
FLUTD, feline lower urinary tract disease, is one of the most common reasons felines visit the vet.
It’s a term used to describe a cluster of diseases or disorders that affect the cat’s lower urinary tract, including the urethra and bladder.
FLUTD is one of the most common reasons cats are taken into the animal shelter too, due to their inappropriate urination.
Many paw parents may not realize the serious extent of the disease or consequences if left untreated.
The majority of feline lower urinary tract disease is referred to as idiopathic, estimated to be about 64% of cases.
The term idiopathic refers to diseases with an unknown origin. They may or may not have developed spontaneously, making it extremely difficult to prevent or predict.
Your vet may refer to your cat’s condition as idiopathic FLUTD or IFLUTD. This term represents disorders that are characterized by:
- Difficult or painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Urinating in improper locations
- Irregular, frequent urinations
IFLUTD includes diseases such as Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), Interstitial Cystitis, and Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC).
The diseases may develop from bladder and or urethra inflammation. And sadly, because these are considered idiopathic, the disease occurs without any physical cause.
Only 2% of FLUTD is due to infection. Hmmmm.
64% is idiopathic
14% urinary crystals or stones
FLUTD affects both male and female cats. The onset of the disease can occur at any age or time, but is most commonly seen in cats 1 - 4 years old.
Straining to urinate
Blood in urine
Since the spectrum of varying urinary diseases differs so much, treatment will also differ based on the diagnosis:
- Urinary acidifiers
- Fluid therapy
- Changes to their diet
- Increase water intake
- Antibiotics and medications
- Urinary catheter
- Surgery to remove urethral blockage
Untreated UT Problems
Ek! We can’t stress this enough - it’s imperative that you solve your cat’s urinary tract issues. Untreated FLUTD has enormous potential to cause partial or complete obstruction of the urethra. Not good!
The damage of the urethra may lead to the inability to urinate at all, which can cause kidney issues and potential kidney failure, even a potential bladder rupture.
How to Prevent Future FLUTD
It’s almost impossible to predict and prevent the onset of FLUTD. If environmental factors are leading to your cat’s urinary problems, you will most likely be advised to change some things.
Cat UTIs: Final Thoughts
When issues come up, it’s important to recognize what is going on in order to act quickly and appropriately.
We know your cat means more than the world to you. We understand just how frustrating it can be when your trained cat starts urinating in unusual places throughout the house constantly.
Please try not to panic! Consider talking with your vet, as these issues may be a possible symptom of feline lower urinary tract disease. Recognizing that your four-legged pal is in pain and acting accordingly, is the greatest first step you can do as a feline parent!
If for any reason you believe that your cat may be suffering from a UTI or FLUTD, call your vet and set an appointment.
The treatment and relief are in sight, but only once a proper diagnosis has been diagnosed. Get your kitty the help they need and ensure that their overall health and urinary health is in order. We hope your furry friend feels better very soon!