Cat Urinary Tract Infection

A cat urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection of the upper or lower urinary tract. Because it is a particularly painful infection, it is important to know the signs and how it can be treated.

What Causes a Cat Urinary Tract Infection?

The urethra is the tube that allows urine to exit the body. When bacteria enter the urethra, it travels to the bladder and causes infection. Staphylococcus and E. Coli are some of the most common bacteria known to cause a urinary tract infection. Any bacteria that develops can block the normal passage of urine. When the urethra becomes blocked, the natural bacteria’s in your cat’s urine cannot exit, causing infection. Because cats naturally carry debris and bacteria in their urinary tract, they are very susceptible to developing them.

Risk Factors for a Cat Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are common in cats because of the natural bacteria in their urine. However, there are some other factors that pose an elevated risk to your cat. They include:

  • Cats over the age of 10
  • Male cats
  • Diabetic cats
  • Spayed female cats

Symptoms of a Cat Urinary Tract Infection

It is important to note that not all cats will exhibit the same symptoms. And although you will not be able to see it, your cat's bladder will be inflamed. The inflammation can lead to any of the following symptoms:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent attempts to urinate
  • Small amounts of urine upon urination
  • Pain
  • Blood in the urine

Additionally, there are some behavioral symptoms that may be noticed. They include:

  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Urinating in sinks and bathtubs
  • Crying in the litter box
  • Excessively licking genitals

Diagnosis of a Cat Urinary Tract Infection

In order to accurately diagnose a urinary tract infection, a clean, unaffected urine sample will need to be tested. The most difficult part is obtaining a sample that has been untouched by the environment. Natural debris and bacteria in the air can alter the results of the test.

If you can catch your cat as he is urinating, take a small cup to collect the urine. Be sure to seal it off in an air tight manner so that nothing can contaminate it. If you cannot manage to get a sample that way, there is a method called a cystocentesis that can be performed.

A cystocentesis is the insertion of a needle into the abdomen, extending into the bladder. This will allow the collection of a clean urine sample.

Treatment of a Cat Urinary Tract Infection

Treatment of a urinary tract infection usually consists of a 10 to 14 day regimen of antibiotics. In 85% of all cases, antibiotics will cure the urinary tract infection. Since the infection is quite painful, your cat may be given a medication to help alleviate pain.

Maintaining a Healthy Urinary Tract

Although cats are prone to urinary tract infections, there are a few things that you can do to help them maintain a healthy urinary tract. They include:

  • Bacteria’s in the litter box are easily transmitted to the urinary tract.
  • Make sure that your cat stays well hydrated. The less your cat urinates, the fewer bacteria that are leaving their system.
  • Maintain wet food as an important part of their diet. Wet food naturally helps to keep them more hydrated.