Urinary tract issues can affect cats, especially older or male ones. Our veterinary experts at Clearlake provide information on different urinary conditions, including infections, that cats may experience.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract issues are frequently encountered in cats, with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) being more commonly found than actual urinary tract infections. However, if cats do develop UTIs, it is often due to an endocrine disease like hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Also, cats who suffer from UTIs are usually ten years of age or older.
The symptoms of UTIs in cats include straining while urinating, reduced urine output, absence of urination, discomfort or pain while urinating, passing urine tinged with blood, and urinating outside of the litter box. If your cat displays any of these symptoms, it might indicate UTI or FLUTD, and it is crucial to seek veterinary attention for your feline companion.
Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD
Feline lower urinary tract disease is actually an umbrella term that refers to numerous clinical symptoms.
FLUTD can cause issues in your cat's urethra and bladder, often leading the urethra to become obstructed, or preventing your cat's bladder from emptying properly. These conditions can be serious or even life-threatening if left untreated.
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
Cats who are overweight, middle-aged, and have little access to outdoors, or those who consume a dry food diet or lack physical activity are more likely to be diagnosed with urinary tract disease. However, FLUTD can afflict cats of any age. Male cats are at a higher risk of urinary diseases due to their narrower urethra, which can cause blockages. If your cat is diagnosed with FLUTD, it's crucial to determine the underlying cause.
FLUTD symptoms could indicate serious underlying health issues ranging from bladder stones or infections to cancer or blockages. If your vet is unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your cat may be diagnosed with cystitis, a urinary tract infection that causes inflammation of the bladder. In such cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics 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
It's critical that any bladder or urinary issue 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 who have urinary tract infections or FLUTD require veterinary care. It is crucial to take your cat to the vet if they exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above. If your cat is struggling to urinate or expressing pain, contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet immediately. To evaluate your cat's symptoms, your vet will conduct a thorough physical examination and perform a urinalysis. Additionally, they may perform further diagnostic tests, such as bloodwork or an X-ray, to 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.