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Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Causes & Recovery

Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Causes & Recovery

Cats, especially older ones and males, can experience various urinary tract issues. Our vets in Turlock provide insights on urinary tract infections and similar conditions in cats. 

Cat Urinary Tract Infection

In cats, we often see urinary tract issues. These problems are usually linked to something called feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), not necessarily a urinary tract infection (UTI).

That said, when cats do develop urinary tract infections (UTIs), it is often the result of an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes. It is also the case that cats who suffer from UTIs are typically 10 years of age or older.

Common signs of UTIs in cats are struggling to peep, passing very little urine, not peeing at all, painful urination, bloody urine, and urination outside the little box. 

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above, it could indicate they are suffering from UTI or FLUTD. Either way, it is important that you seek veterinary care for your feline friend. 

Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD

FLUTD is an umbrella term for various urinary problems in cats. It can cause blockage in the urethra or issues with tempting the bladder. If not treated, these conditions can be very serious, even life-threatening. 

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).

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 problems in cats are often found in overweight, middle-aged cats that stay indoors, eat dry food or are not active enough. However, cats of any age can suffer from FLUTD. Male cats are also more prone to urinary problems because they have a narrower urethra, which can easily become blocked. 

If your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD, it is essential to determine the underlying cause. A range of serious underlying health issues from bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage, can cause FLUTD symptoms.

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. If this is the case, your vet will prescribe your cat an antibiotic to help fight off the UTI. 

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
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

Any bladder or urinary issues must be treated as early as possible. Allowing the condition to go untreated could lead to a completely blocked urethra. This is an emergency situation as your cat will not be able to pee at all and could experience kidney failure or a ruptured bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if an obstruction is not eliminated immediately.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If your cat is showing symptoms like difficulty urinating, pain, or distress, it's crucial to see prompt veterinary attention. If your cat shows any of the symptoms above, it's time to visit the vet. If your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain, contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet as soon as possible - your cat may be experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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 kitty's condition. They may also do additional diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or bloodwork, to help them diagnose your cat's condition. 

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.

Is your cat showing signs of a urinary tract infection? Contact our Turlock vets to book an examination for your cat or bring your cat in for urgent care during our regular clinic hours.

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Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Turlock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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