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Urinary Tract Infections in Cats (FLUTD/Cat Cystitis)

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What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract disease?

Feline lower urinary tract disease is a broad term for a number of conditions which cause an uncomfortable, sometimes painful infection in a cat’s bladder and/or urethra.

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

There are a number of symptoms that would indicate your pet has a urinary tract infection:-

  • Increased need to urinate
  • Apparent difficultly urinating (straining to urinate)
  • Pain when urinating
  • Urinate in inappropriate places (may spray around the home)
  • Increased thirst
  • Smelly urine
  • Blood in urine

Your cat may cry out when urinating or when grooming the affected area as it will be very sore.

What are the causes of a urinary tract infection?

Cat cystitis is the most common Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).  Concentrated urine, stress and damage to the lining of the bladder can all contribute to your cat developing cystitis.  Due to male cats having longer and narrower urethra, the infection can be complicated by the urethra becoming blocked by proteins and blood. If the cat cannot urinate, the condition becomes life threatening.

Bladder stones are not as common but can cause similar complications by also causing a blockage of the urethra.

Bacterial infections are rare but cats with Kidney disease or diabetes are more prone to infection

What are the risks of a cat getting a urinary tract infection?

FLUTD is most common amongst overweight and middle-aged cats who spend the majority of their time indoors, are less active and only use a litter tray. Neutered cats are found to be more susceptible to FLUTD, as are Persian cats.  As previously mentioned, Male cats are more prone to suffering with urinary tract blockages due to them having longer and narrower urethra.

Diagnosis

Your vet will exam your cat and request details of any symptoms you’ve noticed.  If it is not clear your pet has an infection (such as clear symptoms and/or soreness around the genitals), a urine sample will be taken to determine the cause of the infection. A blood test is also likely to be taken in order to rule out any underlying conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes.

What treatment is there for a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection will usually be treated with antibiotics.  If an initial course is unsuccessful your vet will send a urine sample for urinalysis, the results of which will direct the vet towards the appropriate antibiotics, or combination of antibiotics, to prescribe depending on the type of bacteria involved.

While your cat is recovering from the infection, ensure fresh water is always available, and in several locations to encourage them to drink more. Your vet will advise if it is felt a change of diet will help, such as changing a dry food diet to wet food.

If the infection has been caused by crystals or bladder stones, your cat maybe prescribed drugs to relax the urethra to try and prevent and treat any blockages. If the urethra is already blocked, your vet will deal with it immediately by placing a catheter (tube) into the urethra so that your cat may pass urine. Bladder stones may need to be removed surgically.

Cat Cystitis can be triggered by stress.  If you think stress could have played a part in your pets illness, speak to your vet about the cause and ways to avoid such triggers it in future.

How to prevent a urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections are relatively rare in cats and are usually a one-off occurrence.  In most cases, once treated, your cat should make a quick and full recovery. Only if your cat suffers with a reoccurrence of infection, and if advised by your vet, should it be necessary to give them a special diet.

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