Our vets see fewer urinary tract infections in cats compared to dogs. However, older cats often experience various urinary tract issues. Below, our Fort Pierce vets explain urinary tract infections and other urinary conditions that may arise in your cat.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection
Cats often face urinary tract problems and are more likely to have a urinary tract disease rather than an infection. However, sometimes they do get infections, which can lead to condition like diabetes or hyperthyroidism, usually when they're older than 10 years.
That being said, cats do develop urinary tract infections that often result in a disease like diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism. Generally, cats that suffer from UTIs do so at or above 10 years of age.
If your cat is showing symptoms of a urinary tract infection and is diagnosed with one (such as cystitis), your veterinarian will prescribe an antibacterial to help fight your cat's UTI.
Common symptoms include difficulty urinating, less urine, pain when urinating, bloody urine, and urinating outside the litter box.
If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above, they may be suffering from a UTI, but these symptoms could also be an indication of a feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD
Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, is actually an umbrella term that refers to numerous clinical symptoms. FLUTD can cause issues in your cat's bladder and urethra, often leading to their urethra becoming obstructed or preventing their bladder from emptying properly. These conditions can become serious or even life-threatening if not promptly treated.
Urinating can be difficult, painful, or impossible for cats suffering from FLUTD. They may also urinate more frequently or in inappropriate areas outside their litter box (occasionally on cool surfaces, such as a tile floor or bathtub).
Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
FLUTD can be challenging to diagnose and treat because it has many possible causes. One of the main problems is the buildup of crystals, stones, and debris in your cat's urethra or bladder.
Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:
- Spinal cord issues
- Congenital abnormalities
- Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
- Emotional or environmental stressors
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
- Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
Cat Urinary tract problems are usually found in middle-aged, overweight cats that stay indoors, eat dry food, or don't exercise much. However, cats of any age can get these issues. Male cats are more at risk because their urine tubes are narrower and can get blocked.
Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households, or sudden daily routine changes can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.
If your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD, it is essential to determine the underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stone infection, cancer, or a blockage.
If your vet can't pinpoint the cause, your cat might be diagnosed with a bladder inflammation called cystitis.
Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats
If your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Inability to urinate
- Loss of bladder control
- Urinating small amounts
- Avoidance or fear of litter box
- Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate settings
- Strong ammonia odor in urine
- Hard or distended abdomen
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Drinking more water than usual
- Excessive licking of the genital area
Any bladder or urinary issues must be treated as early as possible. Delays in treatment could lead to your cat's urethra becoming partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent your feline friend from urinating.
The symptoms above signify a quite serious medical issue that may quickly lead to kidney failure or a rupture in the bladder. FLUTD can often be fatal if an obstruction isn't immediately eliminated.
Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Cat urinary problems need a vet's attention. If your cat shows symptoms like straining to pee or crying in pain, see the vet or an emergency clinic right away.
Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your kitty's condition. Radiographs, blood work, and a urine culture may also need to be done.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery
Urinary issues affecting your cat can be quite serious and complex. The first step should be to make an appointment for immediate care. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will dictate the prescribed treatments. These may include:
- Modified diet
- Fluid therapy
- Urinary acidifiers
- Increasing your kitty's water consumption
- Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
- Expelling of small stones through the urethra
- 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.