While our Groton vets see way fewer urinary tract infections in cats than we do in dogs, there are still a number of other urinary tracts diseases and conditions that can frequently affect older cats. Here, we explain more about urinary tract infections and other diseases in cats.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection
While urinary tract issues are often seen in cats, your cat is much more likely to suffer from a urinary tract disease than they are an infection.
With that being said, when our cats do develop urinary tract infections, it is often because they are suffering from an endocrine disease like diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism. It is often also the case that cats who suffer from UTIs are generally around 10 years old. If your cat is showing symptoms of urinary tract infection and is diagnosed with an infection, your veterinarian will be sure to prescribe an antibacterial medication to help your cat fight their 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, 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
FLUTD, Feline lower urinary tract disease, is actually a general umbrella term for a wide range of clinical symptoms. FLUTD can cause a whole host of issues in your cat's urethra and bladder, causing them to become obstructed, preventing your cat's bladder from properly emptying and more. The symptoms of FLUTD can be painful and even life-threatening.
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 complicated condition to diagnose and treat, since there can be a number of possible causes and underlying factors to this disease. Debris like crystals and stones in your cat's urethra or bladder can build up over time and impact their urinary tract if left for long.
Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:
- Spinal cord issues
- Congenital abnormalities
- Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
- Emotional or environmental stressors
- Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
- Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
- Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
Urinary tract disease is most often diagnosed in overweight and middle-aged cats who have little-to-no access to the outdoors, who eat dry food and who don't get enough physical activity. Cats of any age can get this condition, although it is most common in felines over 10 years old.
Male cats are more prone to developing urinary tract diseases since their urethras are narrower and, as a result, 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 by a vet with FLUTD, it is critical to determine its underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by varying serious underlying health issues like infection, cancer, bladder stones or blockages of the urinary tract.
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
- Urinating small amounts
- Loss of bladder control
- Excessive licking of genital area
- Strong ammonia odor in urine
- Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate settings
- Hard or distended abdomen
- Avoidance or fear of litter box
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Drinking more water than usual
It is very important that any urinary issues or bladder problems are treated as soon as possible. Any delays in treatment for your pet could lead to their urethra becoming either totally or partially obstructed, preventing them from urinating.
The symptoms above indicate 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.
Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary tract infections and FLUTD in cats both require veterinary care. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above, it's time to bring them in to your veterinarian's office for an appointment. If your cat is straining to urinate or is crying out when doing so, contact your vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital. Your cat may be experiencing a veterinary emergency.
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 kitty's condition. Radiographs, blood work and a urine culture may also need to be done.
Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery
Urinary problems in cats may be complicated and serious, so your first step should always be to make an appointment with your veterinarian for care immediately. The root cause of your cay's urinary health issues will determine what treatment will be prescribed. Common treatments include:
- Modified diet
- Fluid therapy
- Urinary acidifiers
- Increasing your kitty's water consumption
- Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
- Expelling of small stones through the urethra
- 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.