Can Both Male And Female Cats Get Urinary Tract Infections
Both male and female cats can get urinary tract infections, but they tend to be more common in females than in males. However, UTIs in male cats can become serious very quickly, so its important to consult your veterinarian immediately if you notice any symptoms, regardless of whether your cat is male or female.
Understanding Flutd: Related Urinary Tract Problems
Although they are possible, UTIs are actually somewhat uncommon in cats. Instead, other urinary disorders are more common, as well as urinary problems with no clear cause.
UTIs are actually one component of a larger group of urinary problems referred to as feline lower urinary tract disease . Conditions that affect the bladder or urethra in both male and female cats are categorized under FLUTD and must be checked out by a veterinarian.
FLUTD often presents in similar ways as UTIs, including blood in the urine, difficulty or painful urination and urination outside of the litter box.
FLUTD conditions may include blockages like bladder stones, bladder infections, kidney infections and urethral obstructions. The following are some of the most common FLUTD diagnoses.
The majority of FLUTD is idiopathic, meaning there is no identifiable cause for the symptoms. Sometimes, this is rooted in stress in the home, such as changes in location or routine or loneliness.
When you bring your cat in after noticing symptoms of urinary problems, the vet will conduct a physical examination and a urinalysis. This will help rule out problems like UTIs and bladder stones or crystals before determining the appropriate form of treatment.
If there is a physical cause like a UTI, treatment can be relatively simple. However, more serious problems like stones or urethral blockages will likely require surgery to rectify.
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Our feline friends cant tell us when they feel sick, but we can tell you that a cat with a UTI or a bladder infection, is one sad kitty. A number of things can be responsible for causing your cats discomfort, but thankfully there are ways to monitor and prevent UTIs from recurring.
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Is My Cat Likely To Get A Bladder Infection
Bladder infections can be caused by crystals, bacteria, diseases such as diabetes, and even stress. While theyre relatively rare in healthy cats, all cats can contract bladder infections, though they are more common in female cats, elderly cats, overweight cats, house cats and those with a weakened immune system.
When they do occur, bladder infections and UTIs can be very painful, and can even lead to permanent damage to the kidneys and urinary tract, so treatment is vital.
What Can I Do At Home With Natural Remedies For Cat Urinary Tract Infections
There are many natural at-home treatments for a cat UTI, but the first area that must be addressed is diet.
Best cat diet
As previously discussed, the urine pH is directly affected by what youre feeding your cat.
If your cat is on a dry kibble diet, its important to start transitioning to at least a canned food diet. High carb diets cause an increase in urine pH which can lead to struvite crystals forming.
Also, cats are not great water drinkers, and its important to increase the moisture content in their food. This helps dilute the urine and flush the kidneys and bladder, helping to prevent bacterial UTIs and crystals in the urine.
Other diets that are optimal for cats that are an obligate carnivore include freeze-dried or even raw diets.
Many pet parents are worried about feeding a raw diet so make sure to start slow or reach out if you need additional help and guidance.
Remember, when changing your cats diet, many cats have developed a preference for eating dry food and can be stubborn to change.
Also, we need to adjust the type of beneficial bacteria in their gut microbiome to help reduce the risk of GI upset. This is why starting with a slow transition over 2 weeks can help reduce any unwanted GI effects, but some cats may take longer, especially if theyre addicted to kibble.
Patience is key.
Essential oils are not all equal, and cats can be sensitive to certain types of essential oils. to learn more about how to use essential oils safely in your pets.
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Urinary Health Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian
What Is A Cat Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection is when bacteria infects the urinary system. The urinary system consists of the kidneys all the way to the genital tract. Urine flows through the system in this order:
A urinary tract infection is not the same as cystitis. Cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder, which is a relatively common condition in cats. Urinary tract infections only occur in 1-3 percent of all cases of cystitis in cats and are considered a rare condition.
For unknown reasons, cats who are 10 years of age and older are much more likely to have a urinary tract infection than younger cats. No specific cat breeds are prone to UTIs.
Cats with a UTI often experience symptoms that make them very uncomfortable. Without appropriate treatment, infection can spread up to the kidneys. When this happens, a life-threatening condition called pyelonephritis can occur.
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Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Disease
If your cat exhibits any of the warning signs of FLUTD, contact your veterinarian immediately. Especially if your cat is not urinating freely, a urinary blockage may be the cause and this condition may be life threatening. Consult your veterinarian immediately.
Signs of feline bladder health problems
- Urinating outside of the litter box
- Straining when urinating
- Lack of energy or interest in normal activities
Cat Urinary Tract Infection Treatment
Cat urinary tract infection treatment typically involves a course of antibiotics. The most common antibiotic used to treat cat urinary tract infections is amoxicillin. However, other antibiotics may be used depending on the severity of the infection and the cats individual response to treatment. In some cases, a cat may require hospitalization for treatment.
We commonly think of our cats as having urinary tract issues, but it is more common for them to contract urinary tract disease. Reduced urine flow as well as pain or discomfort when urinating are two of the most common symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats. Middle-aged and overweight cats are more likely than overweight cats to develop urinary tract infections. FLUTD is characterized by symptoms in cats that are related to underlying health issues such as infection or bladder stones. When cats are not treated for urinary tract problems, the urethra can become partially or completely obstructed. When an obstruction does not get eliminated within a few hours, it can quickly become fatal.
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Inflammation Of The Bladder
Commonly referred to as a urinary tract infection, this problem in cats is more properly called idiopathic cystitis in veterinary terminology. Cystitis just means inflammation of the bladder, while idiopathic means the problem arises spontaneously and without a known cause.
Inflammation is a useful aspect of the bodys immune response, serving to increase blood flow to an injured or infected area to facilitate healing. In the case of cats with urinary tract disease, however, sensory neurons trigger the inflammation of the bladder not because of infection or injury but in response to stress.
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections In Cats
Infection can occur when bacteria enter the bladder through the urethra, which is the tube that transports urine from the bladder outside the body.
Urinary tract infections are more common in older cats, female cats, and cats with diabetes, but any cat can develop a UTI. Urinary tract infections can also cause cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder.
Some cats that develop bladder infections also have kidney stones or bladder stones. Also called uroliths, bladder stones form from minerals in the urine. Uroliths are solid and often feel like sand or small pebbles, though some can grow to an inch or more in diameter.
Bladder stones can cause a lot of inflammation and damage to the entire urinary tract. Both bladder stones and crystals in the urine can lead to a urethral obstruction, commonly referred to as a urinary blockage.
With a partial urinary blockage, the cat may only be able to urinate small amounts. A complete urinary blockage occurs when urine cannot pass through the urethra at all. Because the urine cannot pass through the urethra, it remains in the bladder, which expands painfully. When it cannot expand any more, the kidneys can no longer process urine, leading to a buildup of toxins in the blood.
This is an extremely dangerous medical emergency. Without prompt treatment, a blocked cat could die. Male cats are at higher risk of experiencing a urinary blockage because their urethra is both longer and narrower than a female cats urethra.
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Diagnosing Utis In Cats
If a cat owner is observing signs of abnormal urination in their cat they should schedule a visit with their cat’s veterinarian. A urine sample will need to be collected either by the owner at home with the use of special, non-absorbent litter, or by the veterinarian.
The veterinarian may temporarily keep the cat in the animal hospital until it urinates on its own in some non-absorbable litter or the urine may be obtained by cystocentesis. Cystocentesis is a procedure that involves collecting a sterile urine sample directly from the bladder via a needle. This procedure is the preferred method for urine collection if a UTI is suspected because it is the only way to obtain a sample without contamination. However, the procedure does come with some risk and the decision should be made with the guidance of your veterinarian.
Alternatively, it may be possible to obtain a sample by allowing the cat to urinate in a clean litter box filled with non-absorbent granules.
The Link Between A Dirty Litter Box And Flutd
Cats find a dirty litter box an affront to their dignity.
Without the cat equivalent of a clean toilet and soft toilet paper, they face a stark choice. Hold on and hope someone finally cleans the tray, use a facility they find repellent, or find their own spot to relieve themselves.
These decisions cause the cat stress.
And stress is a very real thing that causes an increase in hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These have a knock-on physiological effect on the body. For cats, this shows up as inflammation of the nerves supplying the bladder, leading to inflammation of the bladder wall.
An inflamed bladder sends out a similar message to a full bladder. The cat believes they need to pee. Only theres a problem because the tray is dirty.
See where this is going?
Its a vicious circle of stress and more stress that doesnt end well.
But what about infection?
Actually, a true urine infection is relatively uncommon in cats, especially in young ones.
The statistics tell us that for every 100 young cats showing signs of difficulty peeing, only 3 will have an infection. The other 97 are all the result of bladder inflammation.
However, bladder infections become more common in older cats or those with health problems such as diabetes mellitus or kidney disease, or those with suppressed immune systems.
The problem being, the symptoms of a urinary tract infection are the same as those of a bladder inflammation. So what are these signs?
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How Did This Happen
UTIs are caused by bacteria that grows in the bladder. Based on the way your cats urethra is shaped, on genetics, and on the pH level of the bladder, some urinary tract environments are more prone to growing bacteria.
Older, female cats tend to get more UTIs than males due to their anatomy. Cats with diabetes and those with bladder stones are at higher risk for getting UTIs.
Cystitis can occur as a result of stress for your cat, which can include a new home, guests, new animals in your home, moving furniture, or even a change of litter box or litter type.
Signs And Diagnosis Of Male Cat Urinary Blockage
The most common sign of what veterinarians call a blocked cat is going to the litter box to urinate, getting into position and having nothing come out. Your cat may also seem uncomfortable or yowl when trying to urinate. If the blockage continues, your cat will develop an electrolyte imbalance, which can result in a depressed or altered mental state, vomiting and a slow heart rate. They may also hide or avoid human contact.
The veterinarian will diagnose your cat based on their medical history, a physical examination, blood and urine tests and, possibly, an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound. If they suspect that your cat has a bladder infection, the vet may submit a urine sample for culture.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Uti In A Cat
The symptoms of cat UTI are:
- Bloody Urine. This is a urinary issue that should be evaluated by a DVM. It is a common symptom of a UTI, but it is not a telltale symptom. Bloody urine can be caused by bladder stones and
- Frequent Urination. Frequent urination is a common symptom of a UTI, especially when accompanied by small amounts of urine. These two together are a sign that cat owners should seek veterinary care immediately as clinical symptoms could continue to worsen.
- Peeing Outside the Litter Box. When a cat urinates outside of the litter box, it might be trying to tell you something. The cat may be doing this because it feels the litter box is dirty or because the bacterial infection in the bladder increases the urgency with which the cat needs to urinate, and they may not make it in time to the litter box.
- Painful Urination. One of the more obvious symptoms of a urinary tract infection is painful urination. Cats will sometimes whimper or make noise when urinating due to pain incurred while peeing. This is caused by crystals or stones that block the urinary tract that is brought on by a UTI.
What Are The Causes Of Flutd
One possible cause of FLUTD is the formation of urinary stones, also called uroliths, in the bladder and/or urethra. These are collections of minerals that form in the urinary tract of cats. X-rays or ultrasound are usually needed to diagnose urinary stones. The most commonly seen uroliths are calcium oxalate and struvite . While a special, stone-dissolving diet can be prescribed to dissolve struvite stones, calcium oxalate stones need to be removed surgically. If the diet fails, or if the stones form again, then surgery may also be necessary for struvite stones. In female cats, it may also be possible for a veterinarian to help a cat pass stones by flushing its bladder with sterile fluids or remove small stones directly from the bladder using a cystoscope when the cat is under anesthesia. A veterinarian may then recommend medication or dietary changes after surgery to help prevent recurrence.
Infection of your cats urinary tract with bacteria, fungi, parasites or possibly even viruses can cause signs of FLUTD. Although bacterial infections are more common than fungal, parasitic or viral infections, they are still relatively uncommon in cats. If an infection is found, your veterinarian will probably look for another disease or problem that may have put your cat at risk of infection. For example, uroliths and diabetes can increase the risk of urinary tract infection.
Feline idiopathic cystitis
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Signs Of A Uti And Other Bladder Problems In Cats
- Difficulty or straining to pass urine – If your cat strains or shows signs of pain, such as meowing while urinating, this could be a sign of a bladder problem.
- Passing small volumes of urine – Your cat urinating more often and/or passing less urine every time they go could indicate a problem.
- Urinating in inappropriate locations – Inappropriate urination, also called periuria, could be a symptom of cat incontinence and bladder problems.
- Passing urine that looks like blood – If you notice pinkish urine indicative of the presence of blood you should contact your vet immediately.
- Crouching longer – If your cat is spending longer peeing than usual this could be a sign of obstruction.
- Behavioral changes – Behavior changes may include a loss of appetite or showing increased signs of pain or irritability, particularly when urinating.
- Excessive grooming – Some cats suffering from a bladder problem will also over-groom their belly and inner thighs.
- Straining unproductively – If your cat cant urinate despite straining, it could be a sign of an obstruction or a urethral plug.