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Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Causes & Recovery

Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Causes & Recovery

Many older or male cats can experience various urinary tract problems. Our veterinarians in Seattle will provide information on urinary tract issues in cats.

Cat Urinary Tract Infection

While cats often have urinary tract problems, the culprit is more likely to be feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) than an actual urinary tract infection.

However, when cats develop urinary tract infections (a UTI), it's often linked to endocrine diseases such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes. This mostly happens in cats ages 10 or older.

Common signs of cat UTIs include struggling to urinate, painful urination, blood in urine, and urinating outside the litter box.

If your cat shows these symptoms listed above, it could indicate that they are suffering from UTI or FLUTD. Either way, it is important that you seek veterinary care for your cat's well-being.

Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD

FLUTD is a broad term covering various urinary issues in cats. It can cause problems in the urethra and bladder, potentially leading to blockages or incomplete bladder emptying, which can be server or life-treatening if not 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 surfaces that are cool to the touch, such as a tile floor or bathtub).

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since there are multiple causes and contributing factors to this disease. Crystals, stones, or debris can gradually build up in your cat's urethra - the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat's body - or bladder.

Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:

  • Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
  • Spinal cord issues
  • Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
  • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors

Urinary tract problems in cats are more common in chubby, middle-aged cats that stay indoors, eat dry food, or aren't very active. However, cats of any age can suffer from FLUTD. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since they have a narrower urethra that is more likely to become blocked.

If your cat is diagnosed with urinary problems, it's crucial to find out why. A range of serious underlying health issues from bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage, can cause these FLUTD symptoms.

If your vet can't determine the cause, your cat might be diagnosed with what we call cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder. If this is the case, your vet will prescribe your cat an antibiotic to help fight off the UTI. 

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
  • 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
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

It's critical that any bladder or urinary issues be treated as early as possible. Allowing the condition to go untreated could lead to a completely blocked urethra. This is an emergency situation as your cat will not be able to pee at all and could experience kidney failure or a ruptured bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Cats with urinary tract issues like infections for FLUTD need to see a vet. If your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain, contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet as soon as possible - your cat may be experiencing a veterinary emergency.

The vet will give you a thorough checkup, including a urine test, to learn more about their condition. They may also do additional diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or bloodwork, to help them diagnose your cat's condition. 

Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery

Urinary issues in cats can be complex and serious, so the first step should be to make an appointment with your veterinarian for immediate care. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will dictate which treatment is prescribed, but may include:

  • 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.

Is your cat showing signs of a urinary tract infection? Contact our Seattle vets to book an examination for your cat or bring your cat in for urgent care during our regular clinic hours.

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