While urinary tract infections are not entirely common with cats, they are still something to watch for, especially if you have an older cat. Our Bakersfield vets talk about the symptoms and causes of urinary tract infections and diseases in cats.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Cats
Although urinary tract infections are possible in cats, it is actually more common for them to experience urinary tract diseases. If your cat does develop a urinary tract infection often suffer from endocrine diseases, such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus, and are usually senior cats over the age of 10.
If your vet examines and diagnoses your cat with a urinary tract infection they may prescribe antibiotics as it is the most common form of treatment in cats with a UTI.
When a cat is straining to urinate, reduced amounts of urine, not urinating at all, pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood (pink-ish color urine), and urinating around the house (outside of the litter box) these are all common symptoms of a UTI in cats and indicate that you should book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
While it is possible that your cat is suffering from a UTI, there is also the possibility that these symptoms could actually point to a number of feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) that could be causing the symptoms listed above in your cat.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease) is a term commonly used for a number of clinical symptoms. FLUTD is known to cause issues in your cat’s urethra and bladder, which can lead to the urethra becoming obstructed, or preventing your cat's bladder from emptying properly. If these symptoms are left untreated there is a good chance they could become life-threatening.
When a cat is suffering through the symptoms of FLUTD they might also be seen urinating more frequently or in undesirable areas outside their litter box.
Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
What makes FLUTD difficult to diagnose is that there could be various other conditions that share similar symptoms. It could also be a build-up of crystals, stones, or debris in your cat's urethra (the tube that connects your cat's bladder to the outside of their body) or bladder.
Other causes that are frequently encountered,
- Incontinence (caused by excessive water consumption or weak bladder)
- Spinal cord issues
- Debris from urine causing Urethral plug
- Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
- Congenital abnormalities
- Emotional or environmental stressors
Cats who do not eat wet food, as well as cats that do not get time outdoors or exercise, are more commonly diagnosed with Urinary tract diseases Although middle-aged cats are more likely to develop these conditions it is not unheard of in cats of all ages. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since their narrower urethras are more prone to blockages.
Some cats need a stable routine in order to stay happy and healthy and for some cats, changes can cause stress which impacts their overall health. For some, it could be as simple as using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households, or any changes to their everyday routine that could cause them to be more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.
The most important thing if your cat is diagnosed with FLUTD is to book an appointment to have your cat examined and diagnosed quickly. There are many other conditions that share symptoms with FLUTD that might require immediate attention.
If your veterinarian 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.
Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats
If you suspect your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection, watch for 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
If urinary issues are left untreated they can cause the urethra to become partially or completely obstructed. It is crucial to resolve urinary conditions as soon as possible as these issues can prevent your cat from urinating.
If your cat's symptoms progress to a blockage it is important to have your cat seen immediately as the symptoms above indicate a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. Obstructions that are not eliminated immediately can be fatal and these situations require immediate emergency attention.
Diagnosing Feline Urinary Tract Disease
If your cat is indicating that it is having issues urinating or if it appears to be in pain while attempting to urinate you should contact your vet right away.
In order to help assess your cat's symptoms, your vet might perform a complete physical exam, as well as a urinalysis. Your vet may also require ultrasound, radiographs, blood work, and urine culture may also need to be done to get further insight into your cat's condition.
Treatment for Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary conditions are serious and if your cat is experiencing symptoms, the first step should be to visit your veterinarian for immediate care. Treatment for your cat will vary depending on the urinary condition that it is diagnosed with, some treatment options are,
- 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.