By: Talin Seta Shahinian
Cats can suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs) and need veterinary attention to recover to avoid developing additional urinary tract or bladder problems. Knowing what to look for and when to take your kitty to see your vet will help with urinary tract infections.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Cats can be prone to other urinary tract diseases, such as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), but urinary tract infections are less common. A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra into the bladder. This happens because urine located in the bladder is supposed to be sterile. If bacteria find their way into your cat’s bladder, the bacteria can grow, reproduce, and multiply, which causes the UTI. Sometimes a cat can develop bladder stones along with a UTI, causing additional urinary health issues (but stones can also develop without a UTI.)
What Are the Symptoms of a UTI?
Cats tend to mask their symptoms when ill and also may hide when not feeling well, so it may take a little detective work on your part to figure out if they may have a UTI. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- They visit the litter box more than usual because they cannot empty their bladder.
- They’re straining to pee and unable to produce much urine.
- They cry, whine, wince, or make other sounds of distress while trying to use the litter box.
- They over-groom by licking their genital area, which is an attempt to comfort themselves in response to painful urination.
- They start peeing outside the litter box. This can be because your cat has urinary urgency and can’t make it to their litter box in time.
- They have blood in their urine, which can be faint, and tints their urine pink.
- They exhibit behavioral changes, such as becoming lethargic, anti-social, or irritable.
How Is a UTI Diagnosed?
Your vet will perform tests, which may include some or all of the following:
- Urinalysis (a urine test) to detect the presence of bacteria, crystals, or blood in the urine.
- Blood tests to rule out other causes of the symptoms, such as kidney disease or diabetes, which can also cause urinary problems.
- X-rays to check for the presence of kidney stones or other blockages.
- An ultrasound may also be performed if your vet suspects a bladder issue beyond a UTI.
How Is a UTI Treated?
Your vet will most likely prescribe a general antibiotic right away. After the tests are evaluated and she has a better idea of the problem, a more specific, tailored antibiotic will be prescribed. You’ll also be encouraged to do whatever you can to increase your cat’s water intake, such as making sure to have fresh, cool water available, have warm chicken broth for them to drink, and switch to feeding them wet food instead of dry kibble.
What Can You Do to Prevent UTIs?
Ensure your cat’s litter box is well maintained, clean, and located in a quiet, private spot. Ask your vet if your cat should be put on a special diet or food that’s tailored to support felines who’re prone to kidney, bladder, or urinary issues. Consider investing in a cat water fountain, as it can encourage your cat to drink more water. Keep your cat’s stress as low as you can, and last but not least, spend quality time with your cat, give them lots of love, and give them soft kitty treats to comfort them as they recover.
If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Scheduling information is available on our www.purplecatvet.com website. You can also check out our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!