Photo of @kihtaymeow on Instagram
Urinary tract infections are pretty common in humans. But, did you know that it’s a major problem in the feline world, too?
Urinary tract infections usually affect older female cats, like me, a retired Queen, but it’s more dangerous for male cats since their urethra is more narrow compared to females. When a male cat develops a UTI, the bacteria causes an elevation in their urine pH, which then causes crystals to form in the urine. The crystals can get lodged in their narrow urethra and cause a fatal blockage.
Urinary tract infections can cause serious health issues for us cats and since we tend to hide our symptoms, it’s possible for the infection to go unnoticed longer than it should. So, it’s up to our humans to identify the signs and know how to prevent, as well as treat, feline UTI to prevent the infection from causing further damage.
WHAT CAUSES URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS IN CATS?
- Bacteria, fungi or parasites that enter the urethra and multiply in the bladder
- Bladder inflammation or infection
- Problems in the lining of the bladder
- Presence of crystals or stones in the bladder (Urolithiasis)
- Blockage of the urethra (in male cats)
- Injuries or tumors in the urinary tract
- Spinal cord issues
SIGNS OF A URINARY TRACT INFECTION
- Straining to urinate (crying out in pain when urinating)
- Blood in the urine
- Passing of only a small amount of urine
- Inability to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Incontinence or inability to control the bladder
- Increased frequency of urination
- Peeing outside the litter box/avoiding the litter box
- Constantly licking their urine opening
- Excessive consumption of water
- Hardening of the abdomen
- Strong odor of urine
If you notice your cat exhibiting any of the above warning signs, take them to the vet immediately. Your veterinarian will perform a series of tests and form a proper diagnosis. They will guide you through the process of medicating your cat and provide you with guidelines to help them recover and prevent them from getting UTIs in the future.
PREVENTING URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
Always pay attention to your cat’s behavior and never ignore any behavioral or habitual changes. We cats are wired to silently deal with our issues, so it’s best to be observant when it comes to these things. What might seem like an innocent quirk can actually be a cry for help.
Here are some of the things you can do to prevent UTIs:
- Make sure they’re getting enough water
We cats can be a bit finicky with our water, so if your cat continues to refuse drinking from their water bowl, you can check if it’s clean enough or if their bowl is wide and shallow enough not to cause whisker fatigue.
If your cat still isn’t drinking any water, you can feed them wet canned food or get them a free-flowing drinking fountain—that usually does the trick.
- Always keep their litter box clean
Always clean out their litter box. If you have multiple cats, make sure there’s one litter box for each cat, plus one.
- Watch their diet
Evaluate the food your cat is eating and make adjustments according to your veterinarian recommendations.
Humans need exercise to be healthy and so do we. Regular exercise will keep your cat active and help boost their immune system.
- Minimize stress
Make sure to provide your cat a stress-free environment. Always give them space and never force them to do things they don’t want to do. Provide them with enough vertical space and hideaways or caves they can escape to when they don’t feel like socializing.
Prevention is always better than cure, so keeping your cat as healthy as can be with the right cat care routine and regular vet visits is the best way to protect them from UTIs and other diseases.