urinary tract infections in cats

Urinary Tract Infections In Cats : Symptoms, Causes and Recovery

Urinary tract infections in cats are in fact quite rare when compared to the occurrence of the same infections in dogs, regardless of that, older cats can and often will experience a couple of other issues with their urinary tract that can cause similar symptoms. In this article we will share with you the causes, symptoms and treatments for urinary tract infections and diseases in cats.

Cause and symptoms urinary tract infections in cats

Even though urinary tract issues are most commonly observed in cats, it is often that we see is a urinary tract disease rather than an actual infection.

So, when cats develop urinary tract infections it is often a sign that they are in fact suffering from an underlying endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus. However, many cats that do experience these diseases, most often together with urinary tract issues, are cats that are older than 10 years.

Cats that have been diagnosed with urinary tract infections such as cystitis are usually prescribed with an antibacterial to help them fight the infection.

Some of the most commonly observed symptoms of a urinary tract infection in cats is the following: straining to urinate, no urinating at all, reduced amount of urine, passing urine mixed with blood, pain and/or discomfort when urinating, urinating outside of the litter box and around the house.

If you observe your cat displaying any of the above symptoms then they may be suffering from a urinary tract infection, however, these symptoms may also be an indicator of a feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD for short.

What is FLUTD?

Feline lower urinary tract disease, also known as FLUTD is actually just a general term referring to a bunch of clinical symptoms. This disease can cause issues in your cat’s urethra and bladder which often leads to the urethra becoming obstructed or even preventing your cat’s bladder from emptying fully. If left untreated this can be serious and even life threatening.

For cats suffering from FLUTD urinating can be very painful, they may even urinate more frequently, or in places outside of their litter box. Those places are usually surfaces that are cool to the touch, such as a tiled floor or bathtub.

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

There are in fact multiple causes and factors that can contribute in your cat developing FLUTD, so it can be pretty to diagnose this condition and treat it. There can be a build up of crystals, debris or stones in your cat’s urethra which is the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the cat’s body, or in the bladder.

Here are some other causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats:

  • 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
  • Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder

Senior and overweight cats who don’t have a lot of access to the outdoors, primarily eat a dry food diet or they don’t get enough physical activity are more prone to develop urinary tract issues, however, cats of all ages can get the condition. Male cats are also more susceptible to urinary diseases as they have narrower urethras that are more likely to get blocked.

Sudden changes to their routine, emotional and environmental stress, using a litterbox, and many other things can also make cats more susceptible to developing a urinary tract disease.

So, what do if your cat is diagnosed with FLUTD? Firstly, it is important to determine the underlying cause, as FLUTD can be caused by some serious underlying health issues such as infections, a blockage, bladder stones or even cancer.

However, if your vet is unable to determine the cause of your cat’s FLUTD, your cat may then be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection called cystitis, which is an inflammation of the bladder.

Here are some of the symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in cats

  • 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 genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are indicators of a serious medical issue that could quickly escalate into kidney failure or a rupture of the bladder. Feline urinary tract disease can also quickly become fatal if there is an obstruction present that is not immediately removed.

Regarding diagnosing feline urinary tract disease

If you have observed some of the symptoms and believe that your cat may be having problems with their lower urinary tract, you need to talk to your veterinarian immediately, more so if your cat is showing signs of pain or straining when it is urinating.

When you take your cat to your vet, they will perform a full physical exam to help in assessing your cat’s symptoms. Additional tests such as radiographs, blood works and a urine culture could also be needed.

Recovery process of cat urinary tract infection

We concluded that urinary issues in cats can be serious and quite complicated, so making a vet appointment is crucial as soon as you notice symptoms. The treatment which your vet will prescribe will most likely be dictated by the underlying cause of your cat’s condition.

Here are some of the treatments:

  • 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

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