How To Tell If Your Cat Has A Uti
Just like people, cats get sick, too. And one of the most common ways a kitty gets sick and luckily, one of the most treatable ways if you catch it early enough is feline lower urinary tract disease .1 A UTI falls under the category of FLUTD.
As with people, an FLUTD can cause a kitty a lot of pain and discomfort, but often can be quickly fixed with a dose of antibiotics. But how can you tell if your cat is suffering and needs medical attention ASAP? Call a vet immediately if you notice any of the following:1
Keep An Eye On Your Cats Bathroom Habits
Its extremely important to pay close attention to your cats daily bathroom habits. Take a look at what youre scooping during your daily cleaning of the litter box. That way, youll be able to identify when something is off.
You should start paying attention to your cats daily routines early on. Track how often and how much urine your cat produces each day. If you notice any changes to these normal habits, it might be a sign that theres something up.
Cat Urinary Tract Infections
True urinary tract infections in cats are very rare. Instead, in cats, we see a range of conditions which can cause cystitis, referred to as feline lower urinary tract disease .
FLUTD is any disorder affecting the bladder or urethra of cats. It is common, affecting approximately 1-3% of cats each year. Both male and female cats can be affected. Male cats are more prone to obstructions by crystals or plugs, due to their long narrow urethra.
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How To Prevent Utis In Cats
It is important to note that UTIs are less common in cats. It is often more likely that another urinary issue is affecting your cat. UTIs most often occur when something else is affecting the cats natural defenses such as an autoimmune issue, bladder stones, or diabetes mellitus. These conditions will need to be addressed along with the UTI.
To encourage urinary tract health, all cats should be offered fresh water at all times and encouraged to drink. Canned or moist food is ideal for cats because it has more water content, and for cats with recurrent urinary issues, it may be recommended to add additional water to their canned food as well.
Other Urinary Tract Disorders
In addition to discussing UTIs in cats, we must also discuss some of the more common urinary tract disorders because they present themselves in the same way but have different causes.
The first is urinary crystals. When the pH of a cats urine is too high or too low, it can cause microscopic crystals to form in the urinary tract.
Struvite crystals are the most common urinary crystals and are caused when a cats urine is too alkaline . These crystals irritate the urinary tract, making it painful and difficult for a cat to urinate.
The other type of urinary crystals is calcium oxalate crystals, which can be caused when a cats urine is too acidic .
Another relatively common urinary tract disorder is feline idiopathic cystitis or FIC. Unlike urinary crystals, FIC isnt caused by a physical irritation of the urinary tract, but it does cause similar inflammation and symptoms. Vets arent entirely sure what causes FIC, but some contributing factors can be stress, genetics, dehydration, and diet.
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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.
Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Symptoms Diagnosis Prognosis And Treatment
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is one of the most frustrating syndromes in veterinary medicine. At the least, cats suffer from uncomfortable urination and frequent trips to the litter box. In the worst case, the urethra can become completely obstructed, which, left untreated, results in a painful death.
Although some cats present with urinary crystals, stones, or infection, the majority of cases do not have a readily identifiable cause. Stress is thought to be a trigger in many cases, causing a painful syndrome similar to interstitial cystitis that occurs in people. Regardless of the cause, prompt veterinary care is key to a positive outcome. All cat parents should be aware of the signs of urinary tract disease so they can be evaluated quickly if these symptoms occur.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Problems in Cats
In its milder forms, cats make frequent trips to the litter box, usually passing small amounts of urine. Cat parents may notice blood in the urine. Some cats start to relive themselves in areas outside the litter box, particularly if they begin to associate the litter box with pain.
Diagnosis of Urinary Tract Problems in Cats
Examination by a veterinarian is needed to determine whether or not a cat is suffering from lower urinary tract disease. Your vet may recommend the following tests:
Prognosis for Urinary Tract Problems in Cats
Treatment for Urinary Tract Problems in Cats
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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.
Underlying Causes Of A Cats Uti
There are a few possible causes of UTIs in cats:
- Urinary stones. These are a collection of harmful minerals in a cats urinary tract that can lead to infection.
- Kidney disease. Cats with chronic kidney disease are likely to develop UTIs because abnormalities of the kidneys often cause secondary infection.
- Infection. Bacteria, fungi, and parasites can all lead to signs of a cat UTI.
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How To Treat Urinary Tract Infection In Cats
Almost all urinary tract infections can be treated on an outpatient basis. In addition to antibiotics, your veterinarian may recommend an injection of subcutaneous fluids to help rehydrate your cat, as well as a short course of pain medications . Occasionally, if a cat is debilitated or if the UTI has spread to the kidneys , hospitalization may be recommended.
Diet plays a part in treatment and can help prevent additional UTIs. Drinking plenty of water will help flush out the bladder, and get rid of crystals and cellular debris that can lead to the creation of urinary tract stones. If there are excess crystals in the urine, a special diet will be necessary for a few weeks to change the pH of the urine, which will help dissolve the crystals. Once the crystals are gone, talk to your vet about a preventative diet that will prevent the crystals from reforming.
Common Cat Uti Symptoms
The good news is that there are a few telltale signs to look out for when identifying whether or not your cat has a UTI. The following are the most common symptoms:
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Blood in the urine
- Painful urination and discomfort
- Changes to your cats daily bathroom regimen
Frequent licking is one of the most common symptoms of a cat UTI and may look something like
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How To Prevent Cat Urinary Tract Infections
There is always a chance, and sometimes a good chance, that your cat’s UTI or other lower urinary tract problem will recur. Some recommendations to help prevent recurrences of UTIs and other issues are relatively inexpensive. You can start by taking steps to keep your cat healthy. In addition, your veterinarian may suggest some options like these:
Adjust your cat’s diet. Feed measured, high-quality meals on a regular basis and keep your cat at a healthy weight. With your vet’s recommendation, consider a change to a specialized diet for urinary conditions or a switch to wet food . Here are tips from the American Association of Feline Practitioners covering best practices for healthy feeding.
Manage your cat’s water. Keep bowls clean and fresh at all times. More water intake can lower urine concentration, making it more difficult for debris and microorganisms to clump and multiply. You may also consider getting a drinking fountain since many cats are drawn to flowing water.
Calm your cat. Avoid major changes in household routine, and watch for ways to reduce your cat’s stress and anxiety. Consider making some changes in your home to enrich your cat’s life. Learn more about your cats’ senses and ways veterinarians think cats get stressedwhich can manifest itself in the form of illness.
Talk to your vet about the best preventive care and UTI treatments for your cat.
Why Did My Cat Get A Uti
In the animal kingdom, male cats are more likely to contract UTIs than females are, seeing as they have longer and more narrow urethras. There are many reasons why your cat could contract a bladder infection or UTI:
- Theyre overweight
- Theyre strictly indoor cats
- They dont get enough exercise
- They dont drink enough water
- They strictly eat dry food
- They dont always have access to a clean litter box
- They live in a household with multiple cats or animals
- They are feeling stressed
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What To Do If You Suspect A Flutd
If your cat is having trouble urinating and displaying other signs of FLUTD, take her to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will give her a physical exam and collect urine samples. Blood work, x-rays, and abdominal ultrasound may also be recommended for diagnosis.
Most cases of FLUTD improve without medical treatment, but the symptoms can recur. Though they may not be life-threatening to your cat, they can be uncomfortable, so treatment can improve her overall quality of life. While treatment of FLUTD depends on the underlying cause, it is always beneficial to increase your cats water intake. Maintaining a healthy weight, feeding her canned food and encouraging her to use her litter box can also help. However, certain conditions simply cannot be treated at home. Bacterial cystitis should be treated with antibiotics, while stones must be surgically removed.
Its always best to be safe. A simple phone call to your vet when you first notice any of the above symptoms can help diagnose a problem much sooner and save your cat a longer period of discomfort. Its also important to monitor your cat after being diagnosed with FLUTD during treatment to ensure that the problem doesnt reoccur as cats are good at hiding their pain.
Cat Uti Vs Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is another relatively common condition that can easily be confused with a UTI. While UTIs are caused by an infection, FLUTD describes a range of conditions or diseases affecting a cat’s bladder and urethra without infection, such as urinary stones, a blocked urethra or diabetes, to name a few. FLUTD is often brought on by stress. FLUTD and UTIs have many of the same symptoms, so it’s important to discuss any litter box concerns with your vet.
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Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Signs To Look Out For
Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM.
Cat urinary tract infections can affect felines of any age or size. If your cat is peeing outside of their litter box such as less urine or no urine at all, or theyre straining to urinate it could be a sign that your cat is suffering from a urinary issue. Though sometimes harder to spot in kittens who are still litter training, changes in your cats bathroom habits are one of the biggest indicators something is wrong.
Lets dive into other signs of urinary tract infections in cats, why they happen, and how you can get your kitty feeling better in no time.
My Cat Suddenly Began Going To The Litterbox Very Frequently A Sample Of Urine Revealed A Bladder Infection How Did This Happen
While urinary tract disorders are fairly common in cats, urinary tract infections are fairly uncommon. Cats with UTIs try to urinate very frequently, they may pass only small amounts of urine, they may strain to urinate, they may cry out or whine when urinating, and there may be blood visible in their urine. Urinating outside of the litterbox is also a red flag that something is wrong in the bladder. Finally, frequent licking around the rear end may signal that a UTI is present.
Generally, a UTI occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra and into the bladder. Urine in the bladder is supposed to be sterile, but once bacteria find their way to the bladder, the bacteria can grow and reproduce, causing the UTI. Some cats will develop bladder stones, with or without a UTI, and this opens the door for additional health issues.
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Diagnosis And Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infections In Cats
When you take your cat to the veterinarian, they will perform a complete medical examination, including palpitating the bladder to check if it is full. They will then generally perform some diagnostic tests to test your pets urine. An x-ray or ultrasound may also be used to evaluate the urinary tract.
Urine analysis will look for the presence of bacteria, red blood cells, white blood cells and urinary crystals. A sample of urine will be collected by cystocentesis, which involves inserting a fine needle through the abdominal wall and into the bladder.
Which Cats Are Most At Risk For Utis
While any cat can get a UTI, some cats are more susceptible to infection than others. For example, older cats and cats who form bladder stones diabetes mellitus are more at risk for developing a UTI. The cat breeds thought to most commonly suffer from bladder stones include Himalayans, Persians, and Siamese cats. In addition, some hormonal conditions, such as Cushings disease, are at higher risk for UTI.
While not a UTI, its important to know that male cats are at risk for a life-threatening condition called urethral obstruction, as their urethras are longer and thinner than those of female cats. Due to a more narrow passage, the male urethra is more likely to be blocked. The signs of a urethral obstruction can mimic the signs of a UTI, so if your male cat is ever straining in the litter box, its important to seek veterinary attention immediately.
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How To Know If Your Cat Has A Uti
Regardless of age, felines tend to experience problems with the lower portion of their urinary tract. A feline urinary tract is susceptible to infections that affect the urethra and urinary bladder.
Urinary Tract Infections in felines are gruesome as they might lead to severe conditions. The worst part, cats with a UTI get abandoned by their owners or left at animal shelters.
When cats get diagnosed with urinary tract problems, it is unfortunate for them and their owners. It is disheartening for owners to watch their furkids suffer badly.
Felines with FLUTD tend to lick themselves excessively. Usually, they urinate outside the litter box, sometimes on rough surfaces like a bathtub or tiles.
Pet owners are likely to come up with a question: How do you know if your cat has a UTI? With proper care, a veterinary specialist visits, your furkid can get over a UTI.
Warning Signs Of Urinary Tract Infections
Because you live with your favorite feline, you are the perfect person to notice changes in behavior. You know your cat’s normal litter box habits better than anyone. Possible signs of a UTI include:
- More frequent visits to the litter box and/or more frequent attempts to urinate during a visit
- Straining to urinate
- Crying out, whining, or loud meows
- Inappropriate urination
- Blood in urine
- More frequent licking of the genitals
- Especially strong urine odor
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