Our Rock Hill vets see far fewer urinary tract infections in cats than in dogs, nonetheless, there are a number of other urinary tract conditions that frequently affect older cats. Below we explain more about urinary tract infections and other urinary conditions in cats.

Cat Urinary Tract Infection

Although urinary tract issues are often seen in cats, your cat is more likely to suffer from a urinary tract disease rather than an infection.

That said, when cats do develop urinary tract infections (a UTI) it is often the result of an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus. It is also the case that cats who suffer from UTIs are typically 10 years of age or older.

Your veterinarian will prescribe an antibacterial to help treat your cat's urinary tract infection (UTI) if it is determined that your cat has an infection like cystitis in addition to the urinary tract infection symptoms listed below.

Cats with urinary tract infections frequently experience pain or discomfort when urinating, produce less urine, stop urinating altogether, pass urine that is tainted with blood, and urinate outside of the litter box or around the house.

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, or FLUTD, is actually a catch-all term for a variety of clinical signs. FLUTD can affect your cat's urethra and bladder, frequently resulting in an obstruction or impairing the proper emptying of your cat's bladder. If not treated, these conditions can become dangerous or even life-threatening.

For cats with FLUTD, urinating can be painful, challenging, or impossible. Additionally, they might urinate more frequently or inappropriately outside of the litter box (occasionally on cool-to-the-touch surfaces like a tile floor or bathtub).

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD is a complex condition 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

Despite the fact that cats of any age can develop the condition, urinary tract disease in cats is most frequently diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats with limited to no outdoor access, dry food diets, or who do not get enough exercise. The narrower urethras of male cats make them more vulnerable to urethral blockages, making them more susceptible to urinary diseases.

Utilizing an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households, or abrupt changes in a cat's daily routine can also make cats more susceptible to urinary tract disease.

If your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD it is essential to determine the underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as 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.

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 genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

Any bladder or urinary issue must be treated as soon as possible. Delays in treatment may cause your cat's urethra to become partially or completely obstructed, preventing him from urinating.

The symptoms listed above indicate a serious medical problem that could quickly lead to kidney failure or bladder rupture. FLUTD can quickly become fatal if an obstruction is not removed 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. 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 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 issues in cats can be complex and serious, so the first step should be to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for immediate care. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will determine which treatment is recommended, but it may 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.

Is your cat showing signs of a urinary tract infection? Contact our Rock Hill vets at Catawba Animal Clinic to book an examination for your cat, or contact your nearest veterinary emergency hospital for urgent care.