Cats bring so much joy to your life and home. But like any pet, they need proper care and attention to stay healthy. An actual urinary tract infection (UTI) in cats is rare; however, cats can be prone to various issues causing cystitis, known as FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease).
A UTI happens when bacteria form in the urinary tract and causes painful inflammation. If left untreated, UTIs can lead to potentially serious health complications. Fortunately, you can take a few easy steps to help reduce the chances of your cat developing an infection.
Regular water consumption, providing stress relief, and maintaining a healthy weight are all essential to keeping your cat healthy and potentially UTI-free.
This article will discuss the causes and symptoms of UTIs in cats and how to prevent them.
What Causes UTI in Cats?
While it can be challenging to determine the exact cause, there are a few common culprits.
Cats that are overweight or have diabetes are more prone to UTIs. Crystal formations and kidney stones can also lead to UTIs. In addition, cats that don’t have enough liquid in their diet are more prone to UTIs.
Underlying Medical Conditions
As previously mentioned, diabetes increases the risk of UTIs, as does hyperthyroidism in older cats.
Those with high-stress levels are also more susceptible to these infections; it can be seen in multi-cat households where there aren’t enough litter trays or a significant change in the home.
Symptoms of UTI in Cats
When a cat has a urinary tract infection, it will exhibit several symptoms. The most common symptom is frequent, painful urination and straining to urinate.
Other signs include:
- Blood in the urine
- Spots of blood around the back end
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Not eating or drinking normally
- Frequent trips to the litter box
- Crying or whining while trying to toilet
- Increased thirst and urination
- Urinating in odd places
- Discoloration and foul odor in the urine
- The cat smells of urine
Diagnosing UTIs in Cats
If you think your cat has a urinary tract infection, it’s necessary to get it checked by a vet as soon as possible. Diagnosing it requires several tests.
The most common test to diagnose UTIs is a urinalysis, which allows the vet to analyze sediment from your cat’s urine for bacteria and other abnormalities. This test can also detect any inflammation or crystals in the bladder that might indicate an infection. If a bacterial infection is suspected, a urine culture will be performed to identify the specific bacteria causing the infection.
Other tests that diagnose a UTI in cats include blood work, imaging studies such as an X-ray or ultrasound, and cystocentesis (bladder aspiration).
These tests will help the vet determine if there is an underlying cause of the infection, such as kidney disease, bladder stones, or any other medical issues contributing to your cat’s UTI.
Treating Urinary Tract Infections in Cats
The best way to treat a cat’s urinary tract infection is with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. Your vet will typically prescribe an antibiotic and pain medication for your cat. It is vital always to complete the course of medication.
The treatment and medication dosage length will depend on the severity of the infection, so it’s essential to follow your vet’s instructions.
Your vet might recommend dietary changes if necessary. For example, if your cat needs to lose weight or requires a special diet, increasing water intake can help flush out the urinary tract and help relieve some of your cat’s discomfort.
It’s also essential to keep up with regular follow-up visits with your vet to ensure the infection doesn’t come back.
Recovery Time From UTI in Cats
Most cats will recover from a urinary tract infection within a few weeks of treatment. During this time, monitoring them for discomfort or lingering symptoms is necessary. Following up with your vet immediately is essential if the symptoms persist, as this could indicate an underlying medical condition.
How To Prevent UTIs in Cats?
If you have a cat, you know how important it is to keep it healthy – UTIs can be painful and cause uncomfortable symptoms, but you can always take steps to reduce the chances of your cat getting a UTI.
Keep the Litter Box Clean
Maintaining a clean litter tray is vital as cats are fastidious regarding cleanliness and object to using a dirty litter tray. Provide multiple litter boxes for your cats so they don’t have to fight over them. Ideally, each cat should have a litter tray. The litter trays should be in a relatively private, easy to get to place.
Canned, also known as wet food, can be a great way to promote urinary health in cats. This type of food is rich in moisture, which helps keep them hydrated.
Ensuring your cat has access to plenty of fresh water will help. Consider investing in a drinking fountain if your cat prefers to drink from running or bubbling water than from a bowl. The main point is to ensure that your cat has access to fresh water daily.
Here are a few tips to help encourage your cat to drink more water:
- Place multiple drinking stations around the house so your cat can easily access them.
- Place the fountain away from its food dish, as cats prefer to eat and drink separately.
- Add the water from a can of tuna to the water bowl.
- Pour fresh water into a large dog bowl.
Monitor its water consumption and ensure it drinks enough throughout the day. Change the water daily and ensure it is clean and debris-free. Also, avoid giving your cat beverages other than water or oat milk.
Provide Stress Relief For Your Cat
Stress can contribute to many medical conditions in cats, so ensuring your cat is as relaxed and happy as possible is essential.
Provide your pet plenty of places to hide, such as cozy bedding or hiding boxes, and offer toys for playtime. Spend quality time playing with it daily and ensure it doesn’t feel neglected.
If you have multiple cats, establish a positive relationship between them by providing enough food and resources for everyone. If one of your cats feels aggressive or territorial, take steps to prevent these behaviors through positive reinforcement.
Maintain a Healthy Weight For Your Cat
The best way to keep your cat at a healthy weight is by following your vet’s advice and providing the correct amount of nutritional food daily, and encouraging your cat to exercise.
To maintain a healthy weight, give your cat food portions appropriate to its size and age. You can also use online feeding charts to help determine the right amount of food for your cat. Keep your furry friend in great shape with a proper diet and daily exercise through play.
Exercise is essential to help keep your cat’s weight in a healthy range. Encourage physical activity by providing plenty of toys and opportunities for playtime. You can also buy or make DIY cat trees with scratching posts to help stimulate its predatory instincts.
If your cat isn’t interested in playing, take it for a walk outside on a harness or try interactive feeding games to encourage movement. Taking it regularly to the vet will ensure it stays healthy and can help you better manage its dietary needs.
Monitor for Symptoms of UTI in Your Cat
Be aware of changes in your cat’s bathroom habits or signs of discomfort, such as vocalizing when urinating. If you notice any abnormalities in its behavior, take it to the vet for an examination and testing.
Regular checkups and annual veterinary visits will help detect potential health problems before they become more serious.
Final Thoughts on UTIs in Cats
UTIs are serious infections that can be life-threatening if left untreated. A balanced diet, daily exercise, regular checkups, and prompt medical treatment is the best way to keep your cat healthy and prevent UTIs and other medical conditions.
The earlier the diagnosis, the better your chances of preventing long-term damage and complications. So if you notice any signs or symptoms of a UTI in your cat, get it to the vet immediately.
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