Although cats may experience urinary tract infections less commonly than other animals, they may frequently suffer from other urinary tract issues, especially as they age. Our vets in Thornton provide insight into the symptoms, causes, and treatment of urinary tract infections and diseases in cats.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Cats
Urinary tract infections are a common issue among all animals including humans, while these infections can still happen with cats it is more common that they experience urinary tract disease. If a cat does suffer from a urinary tract infection it is commonly seen that they are diagnosed with various endocrine diseases such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus, and are typically 10 years of age or older.
If after a veterinary examination your vet diagnoses your cat with a urinary tract infection, they will prescribe an antibiotic to help with the infection.
Most commonly the signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections can include straining to urinate, reduced amounts of urine, not urinating at all, pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood (pink-ish color urine), and urinating in places other than its litterbox.
Although a urinary tract infection could be a possible reason behind your cat's symptoms, there are many feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) that are more common and might be behind your cat's UTI symptoms.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease) refers to numerous clinical symptoms. FLUTD commonly causes issues in a cat’s urethra and bladder, could possibly lead to the urethra becoming obstructed, or preventing your cat's bladder from emptying properly. If left untreated these conditions can be serious or even life-threatening.
When a cat is enduring the symptoms of FLUTD, urinating can be difficult, painful, or even impossible. It is common that they may also attempt to 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
Unfortunately, FLUTD is known to be a difficult condition to diagnose and treat since there can be many factors and symptoms which align with other disorders.
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
Most commonly, urinary tract diseases are diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who are primarily indoor cats and do not get much exercise or drink enough water. While cats of any age can get the condition it is more common for male cats to suffer from urinary diseases since their narrower urethras are more likely to become blocked.
Cat's are routine creatures and do not do well with sudden changes. This can be a factor in developing disorders and diseases such as FLUTD. Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, or multi-cat households can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.
It is crucial to bring your cat in for a visit with your vet if it is displaying any symptoms of urinary tract disease. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.
If your veterinarian is unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your kitty may be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection called cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder.
Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats
If you suspect your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection, watch for 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
Any bladder or urinary issues need to be addressed as quickly as possible. If left untreated, urinary tract infections and diseases in cats make it possible for the urethra to become partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent urination.
If your cat is experiencing any of the symptoms above please call your vet. Urinary tract disease is a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately.
Diagnosing Feline Urinary Tract Disease
If your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain or if you believe that they may be having issues with their lower urinary tract, it is important to contact your vet right away.
Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms as well as diagnostic testing such as urinalysis, and possibly an ultrasound, radiographs, blood work, and urine culture in order to get further insight into your cat's condition.
Treatment for Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary issues in cats can quickly become serious, so the first step should always be to visit your veterinarian for immediate veterinary 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.