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Everything You Need To Know About Urinary Tract Problems In Cats

How to recognize if your cat has a urinary tract infection

Jul 1, 2018 | Cats, Emergency Situations

FLUTD or feline lower urinary tract disease is a common cause for many feline emergency veterinary visits. This condition comes in two forms the obstructed and non obstructed forms. In some cases the unobstructed form can progress into the obstructed forma life threatening, emergency condition.

The causes of FLUTD are many and varied. They include trauma, urinary stones, a mucus plug, UTI, underlying kidney disease, and it can have no discernible cause whatsoever. Cats are mysterious! No matter how it happened, the result is inflammation of the urinary tract. Why is that bad? If your kitty cant pee, it will buildup urine, distending its bladder. This can lead to electrolyte abnormalities that poison its blood. The bladder itself rupture from the buildup of urine that has no way to escape.

Common signs that your cat is in urinary distress include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Meowing while attempting to urinate
  • Expressing pain if you touch its abdomen
  • Many owners also notice their cat straining to defecate
  • Some cats excessively groom their nether regions, or drag them across the floor.

As we stated at the outset, the most frustrating thing about FLUTD is the difficulty in figuring out its causes. If you notice any of the signs of FLUTD in your kitties, please dont try to figure out whyTake them to a veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment can save your cats life.

For more information, contact our team at VETSS!

How Vets Diagnose Utis In Cats

Vets diagnose urinary tract infections by collecting a urine sample and examining it for the presence of bacteria. These samples must be collected through a process called cystocentesis, where urine is drawn directly from the bladder with a fine needle. This is necessary to prevent contamination of the urine sample from cups, tables, or any other surface the urine may come into contact with.

After cystocentesis, your veterinarian will run a culture-and-sensitivity test. During this test, the bacteria are isolated and studied. This helps the vet determine the best antibiotics for your cats exact infection.

Occasionally, acute infectionsespecially first-time infections that show up suddenlyare treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic without trying to determine which bacteria are involved.

Chronic infections, however, almost always require more testing to isolate the type of bacteria causing the problem and identify the best antibiotic.

Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infection In Cats

When diagnosing a UTI, your veterinarian will begin by taking a complete medical history. The vet may ask about changes in your cats water consumption, frequency of urination, amount of urination, how the urine looks, and any behavioral changes. Your vet will also perform a physical examination to assess the bladder and kidneys, as well as the genitalia and sometimes the rectum. If there is trouble with urination, a neurological exam may be conducted.

Your cats urine and blood will also be tested. Urinalysis is one of the most important and useful tests for diagnosing a UTI. It will look for the presence of certain chemicals or substances in the urine, like sugar, ketones, bilirubin, blood, and protein. A urinalysis is best conducted on a fresh urine sample to prevent inaccurate results.

Based on the findings, additional testing may need to be conducted. In particular, a urine culture may be performed to confirm the presence of an infection and to determine what type of bacteria are involved. Since it often takes 3 to 5 days to obtain final culture results, your veterinarian will likely start your cat on broad-spectrum antibiotics in the interim. The typical duration of antibiotic therapy is 7 to 14 days.

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What Causes Utis In Cats

In general, urinary tract infections develop when the urethra becomes contaminated with bacteria that normally colonize the rectum and surrounding area. Once in the urethra, the bacteria migrate upstream and take up residence in the bladder.

The presence of mineralized bladder stones or crystals in the urine may also be a cause of UTIs. Because the crystals are hard and irritating to the bladder, theres a greater risk for infection.

Urinary Tract Infections In Cats

While cats often have urinary tract issues, our kitty companions are more prone to urinary tract disease than infections. Cats that do develop urinary tract infections are typically 10 years of age or older and often suffer from endocrine diseases, including hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus.

If your feline companion is displaying symptoms of a urinary tract infection and is diagnosed with cystitis, your veterinarian will prescribe and antibacterial to help battle your cats UTI.

The most common symptoms of urinary tract infection in cats include reduced amounts of urine, straining to urinate, pain or discomfort when urinating, not urinating at all, urinating around the house , and passing urine tinged with blood .

These symptoms may be caused by a urinary tract infection, but there are also numerous feline lower urinary tract diseases that may cause your cat to display the symptoms of UTI listed above.

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Important Information On Flutd & Urinary Tract Infections In Cats


Feelings of fear and anxiety can affect our cats much like they affect us. Stress can occur in your cat for multiple reasons. Perhaps youve recently moved or brought a new pet or family member home. Whatever the case may be, if you have a stressed cat, there could be an underlying problem. One of the first ways to detect this problem is when your cat stops using her litter box. She may be peeing in a new spot, spraying on a wall, or having trouble urinating.

Unfortunately, inappropriate urination is one of the most common reasons why cats are left at shelters or put outdoors. If your cat starts marking her territory away from her litter box, its not out of revenge or spite its probably because something is wrong. While it could be a behavioral problem, or she doesnt like her litter box for some reason, a medical condition should first be ruled out. One of the most frequent medical causes of a urination problem is feline lower urinary tract disease.

What Does A Low Or High Ph Mean

According to the FAQs on the UltraPet website, if the crystals turn orange indicating low pH, this could indicate bladder stones and painful urination. It can be caused by too little water consumption. High pH can also indicate bladder stones as well as bladder infections which can cause painful urination. This can also indicate bladder obstruction which restrict or prevent urination. This is deadly and requires immediate treatment!

Consuming too little water can cause low pH as well as poor food quality or too much magnesium or phosphorus in the food among other causes.

A light, golden green color indicates a moderate pH, which is healthy.

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How Do You Check A Cat’s Bladder

Place your other hand along the animal’s side so you can gently hold and/or lift the cat. When the animal has settled into position, feel the abdomen, slightly higher than the leg sockets. Beneath the spine is the colon and then beneath that is the bladder. The bladder has a distinct shape and feeling.

Signs Causes And Investigation

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Feline lower urinary tract disease is not a specific disease, but rather is the term used to describe conditions that can affect the urinary bladder and/or urethra of cats.

Clinical signs for these disorders are all very similar so it is often difficult or impossible to determine the underlying cause without doing further investigations. Although many different diseases can affect the lower urinary tract, frustratingly, a number of cats develop a disease without any obvious underlying cause so called feline idiopathic cystitis or FIC. This form of disease appears to bear many similarities to a disease in humans called interstitial cystitis, but in both cats and humans it can be difficult to manage.

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Urinating Small Amounts More Frequently

The first thing you might notice if your cat has a UTI is them going in and out of the litter box constantly but only producing small amounts of urine. A UTI or other lower urinary tract disease makes your kitty feel like they have to constantly urinate because of the irritation theyre experiencing. If your cat stops producing urine completely, take them to the vet right away as this could be a sign of a urinary blockage.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline lower urinary tract disease is not a single disease, but is used to refer to a number of conditions that affect the urethra and bladder of cats. While certain environmental and lifestyle factors can increase the likelihood, FLUTD can affect all cats, especially those that have become stressed, for example through a sudden change in routine. FLUTD is one of the more common reasons cats are brought to the clinic.

Bladder Stones can be a component of FLUTD

Like in humans, cats can develop crystals and stones in their bladder and urethra. These are usually caused by an excess of certain minerals in their diet. They may be in the form of a single large stone, or as multiple small stones similar in size to sand or gravel.

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How To Collect Your Cat’s Urine Sample From Home If Preventing Pre

  • Try to get as fresh a sample as possible .
  • Replace your cats regular litter with shredded plastic shopping bags or with a sheet of bubble wrap packaging material cut to fit the bottom of your cats litter box. OR Use a specific non-absorbing cat litter. Kit4Cat is a revolutionary, non-absorbing cat litter and collection kit that allows you to easily get a diagnostic urine sample from your cat.Kit4Cat Hydrophobic Sand 2 lb bag

    Non-absorbing cat litter that helps you collect a stress-free urine sample. 100% natural and non-toxic.

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  • Transfer the collected urine sample to a sealable glass or plastic container . Best to use a container you dont plan on getting back!
  • Be sure to keep the sample on ice in a cooler or in the fridge if you wont be taking it immediately to your vet. This helps to ensure the most reliable and accurate test results.
  • If you have a dog, check out these tips for collecting a sample.
  • How To Tell If Your Cat Has A Uti

    Urinary tract disorders are fairly common in cats and its important to recognize the warning signs as soon as possible because in some cases, a urinary tract problem can be deadly. Here, we will talk a bit about UTIs in cats, how to tell if your cat has a UTI, and what you should do if you suspect that this is the case. Know what to look for to keep your kitty happy and healthy!

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    How Can You Help Prevent Your Cat From Getting Utis

    The best thing you can do to prevent your cat from getting UTIs is to keep up with their routine vet visits to ensure their urinary tract health is in tip top shape. However in recurring cases, your vet might prescribe special diets to prevent bacterial growth.

    How can pet insurance help?

    If your cats diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, pet insurance can help you say yes to the best care, even when its costly. Check out how one of Pumpkins cat insurance plans can help you cover the cost of a UTI and more.

    *Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company , a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit and

    How To Prevent Uti’s In Cats

    The best way to prevent urinary tract infections from occurring in a cat is to ensure the urinary tract opening is kept clean at all times. Regular litter box cleaning and the washing of cat beds will aid in this task. Overweight cats may have trouble cleaning themselves and may need help keeping their urinary tract openings clean with a wet cloth or wipe. Adequate water intake will also help flush the bladder out regularly.

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    How Does Ultra Brand Monthly Monitor Compare To Other Products

    The only other product I could find was a brand of litter that looks great but you can only buy directly from the company and sign up for auto-shipping. If you have a problem and just want to check your cats health you may not want to sign up for this litter subscription. It also cost MUCH more than the Monthly Monitor package that is less than $10! I was so glad to find the affordable option of Monthly Monitor. It did exactly what I needed and was easy to use.

    If you see your cat peeing outside the box, use some Monthly Monitor to make sure it is a behavioral issue rather than a medical issue. If it is a behavioral issue, you can check out my recommended products to cure cat anxiety and fix the problem here. If you want to clean up the mess of cat pee outside the box, here is my recommended cleaning method.

    What Are The Treatments For Lower Urinary Tract Problems

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    When you bring your cat to the vet, they will examine your pet for any injuries or physical problems that might be contributing to the urinary problems.

    The treatment will differ depending on the diagnosis.

    Antibiotics Can Treat Cat UTIs

    Your vet will prescribe the right medication for your pet. They can advise you on diet changes that might prevent future UTIs.

    Clearing Obstructions in the Urethra

    The vet will insert a tube into the urinary opening and flush the area with sterile fluid to clear the obstruction. Follow-up care may be required as well.

    Special Diet

    In other cases, a special diet can dissolve stones in your cat’s bladder. Your vet may suggest special food to prevent more stones from forming in the future.

    Treatments for Other Health Problems


    If your cat has diabetes, thyroid disease, or cancer, talk to your vet about treatment options.

    Cat urinary tract issues are serious and you should not ignore the symptoms. Call your vet if you think your cat has a UTI or other urinary tract problem.

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    Preventing Urinary Tract Infections In Cats

    Your vet may recommend a diet that helps not only with healing but prevents recurrence as well. Certain stone-dissolving foods can help prevent crystals from forming in your cats urinary tract. There are also commercial foods that promote urinary tract health. Consult your vet on what type of food is right for your cat.

    Feeding your cat a canned-food diet or mixing wet food with dry kibble helps provide additional hydration.

    Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is also important overweight/obese cats tend to have more health issues than cats of a normal weight. Provide your cat with toys that stimulate physical activity.

    Because anxiety may play a part in urinary tract disease, its important to keep your cats stress level as low as possible. Cats do not like change, no matter how subtle it may be, so try to keep changes to your cats routine and/or environment to a minimum.

    How To Clean Up Accidents

    It’s one thing to collect your cat’s urine to help find out what’s going on with them, but what to do if a sick cat urinates outside their boxes? First of all, know that a cat who goes outside their litter boxes is probably either dissatisfied with their litter box situation or maybe even sick or in pain.

    If your cat does have an accident, it’s important to clean it up as quickly as possible and as thoroughly as possible. You’ll need a good enzymatic cleaner to remove the smell, otherwise it will attract your cat back to the same spot if it hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned. For tips on cleaning cat pee accidents, check out our aptly titled “How to Clean Cat Pee and Poop Accidents” article.

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    How Cat Urinary Tract Infections Are Diagnosed

    If you notice any of the latter mentioned symptoms, you should get your cat to the vet right away for an official diagnosis. The vet may carry out one or a few of the following tests to decide if your cat is suffering from a UTI:

    • Urinalysis. These urine sample tests assess the pH of urine while looking for blood, crystals, excess protein, and infection.
    • Urine culture. Your vet will take a culture or sample of your cats urine and send it to a laboratory for testing. Cultures are specialized urine testing that is recommended for cats with fevers.
    • Physical examination. The vet will feel your cats body looking for inflammation around the affected regions. They will examine genitalia and feel for a distended urinary bladder.
    • Abdominal ultrasound or x-rays. If your vet wants to conduct a more thorough analysis, they may do an ultrasound or x-ray. This helps them see what your cats bladder looks like and find internal cysts or tumors that cant be seen or felt.

    Do not self-diagnose your cat with a UTI. The vet will carry out special tests to ensure your cat gets the correct treatment.

    What Are The Causes Of Flutd


    One possible cause of FLUTD is the formation of urinary stones, also called uroliths, in the bladder and/or urethra. These are collections of minerals that form in the urinary tract of cats. X-rays or ultrasound are usually needed to diagnose urinary stones. The most commonly seen uroliths are calcium oxalate and struvite . While a special, stone-dissolving diet can be prescribed to dissolve struvite stones, calcium oxalate stones need to be removed surgically. If the diet fails, or if the stones form again, then surgery may also be necessary for struvite stones. In female cats, it may also be possible for a veterinarian to help a cat pass stones by flushing its bladder with sterile fluids or remove small stones directly from the bladder using a cystoscope when the cat is under anesthesia. A veterinarian may then recommend medication or dietary changes after surgery to help prevent recurrence.

    Urinary infection

    Infection of your cats urinary tract with bacteria, fungi, parasites or possibly even viruses can cause signs of FLUTD. Although bacterial infections are more common than fungal, parasitic or viral infections, they are still relatively uncommon in cats. If an infection is found, your veterinarian will probably look for another disease or problem that may have put your cat at risk of infection. For example, uroliths and diabetes can increase the risk of urinary tract infection.

    Urethral obstruction

    Feline idiopathic cystitis

    Other causes

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