While cats can get urinary tract infections, urinary issues in cats are more likely to be caused by feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD. Today we look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for urinary conditions in cats.
Cat Urinary Tract Infections
When a cat presents with symptoms of a urinary issue, they are most often caused by a urinary tract disease rather than a urinary tract infection.
When cats do develop urinary tract infections (a UTI) it is often the result of an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus. Cats suffering from UTIs are typically over the age of 10 years old.
If your kitty is displaying symptoms of a urinary tract infection and is diagnosed with an infection such as cystitis your veterinarian will prescribe an antibacterial to help fight your cat's UTI.
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 or outside of the litter box.
If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above they may be suffering from a UTI but these symptoms could also be an indication of a feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD.
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 and can be difficult to diagnose and treat. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the disease:
- Build up of crystals, stones, or debris in the urethra
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Spinal cord issues
- 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, older cats who have little to no access to outdoors, eat a dry food diet, or do not get enough physical activity, however, cats of any age can get the condition. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since their narrower urethras are more likely to become blocked.
Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households, or sudden changes to their everyday routine can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.
If your cat is diagnosed with FLUTD it is essential to determine the underlying cause as it can range from bladder stones to cancer.
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.
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. Delays in treatment could lead to your cat's urethra becoming partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent your feline friend from urinating.
The symptoms above indicate a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately. If your cat is unable to pee it is a veterinary emergency. Contact your vet or bring your cat to the nearest 24/7 pet hospital immediately.
Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary tract infections in cats require veterinary care, as do cats suffering from FLUTD. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above it's time to visit the vet. Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your cat's condition. Your vet may also recommend additional diagnostic testing such as X-rays and bloodwork.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery
The treatment and recovery from urinary issues in cats depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If your cat is suffering from a true urinary infection, antibiotics will be prescribed to clear up the infection. If your cat has FLUTD, your vet will attempt to treat the underlying cause of the issue. Possible treatments could 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.