Cats can be affected by painful urinary tract issues such as infections, but that's not all. Here, our White Hall vets talk about urinary tract infections and feline lower urinary tract disease in cats, the symptoms to watch for and what can be done to help your kitty.
UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) in Cats
While UTIs or urinary tract infections, can occur in cats, they are more likely to develop FLUTD, which stands for feline lower urinary tract disease. Either way, these urinary tract conditions more commonly affect older male cats.
Cat urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also be caused by an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes.
The most common symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats include straining to urinate, reduced amounts of urine, not urinating at all, pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood, and urinating around the house, outside of the litter box.
If your cat shows any of the symptoms that we've listed below they could be experiencing any urinary condition including UTIs or FLUTD. Either way, your feline friend will be in need of veterinary internal medicine and you should contact your vet.
How Urinary Tract Conditions Affect Cats
FLUTD, Feline lower urinary tract disease is 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).
What are the causes of FLUTD and UTIs in cats?
Urinary tract disease in cats and FLUTD are difficult 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 disease in cats is most often diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who have little to no access to the outdoors, eat a dry food diet or do not get enough physical activity. FLUTD can occur in cats of any age or breed. Male cats have a urethra that is more narrow and so urinary issues are more likely to occur.
If your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD it is essential to determine the underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by a range of serious underlying health issues from bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.
If your vet 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. If your cat has a urinary tract infection your vet will prescribe an antibiotic to help treat the infection.
What are the most common signs of urinary concerns?
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 is vital that you bring your cat in for veterinary care as soon as possible if you think they may have a UTI or FLUTD. Allowing the condition to go untreated could lead to a completely blocked urethra. This is an emergency 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.
How will the vet diagnose my cat's urinary tract infection?
If you note any of the symptoms listed above in your cat then you should schedule an exam right away. 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.
Your cat's vet will complete an examination and diagnostics, including urinalysis, to help in diagnosing their condition. They may also do additional diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or bloodwork to help them diagnose your cat's condition.
What can be done to treat UTIs and FLUTD in cats?
As with most conditions, urinary issues should be treated as quickly as possible to avoid complications. While the specific treatment that your cat receives will depend on their condition, some of the common treatment options 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.