Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a disease that should worry any cat owner. UTI, like in humans, becomes painful when it progresses, and can damage the kidneys.
UTI occurs when bacteria “colonize” areas in the urinary tract when these should be sterile or clean, says vetSTREET in “How to Prevent and Treat Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs and Cats.”
“Normally, the bodies of dogs and cats naturally help prevent bacteria from adhering to and multiplying in the urinary tract. A UTI develops when something compromises your pet’s natural defense mechanisms, allowing bacteria that normally live around the urethral opening (for example) to ascend up the urethra and into the urinary bladder, “ vetSTREET said.
“UTIs can be painful for both cats and dogs. Fortunately, prompt veterinary treatment can frequently relieve your pet’s discomfort.
The good news is ”there have been many medical and nutritional advances made to help resolve urinary tract disease,” PetMD said.
It is important to help owners understand UTI to keep cats safe and well: how to detect it at the early stage, the medical intervention, and how to PREVENT the illness.
This is more important because the most common reason a cat is abandoned in shelters is due to urinary issues, said PetMD in “5 Signs Your Cat Has Urinary Tract Disease.”
Sadder still is the fact the cats are euthanized or put to sleep when they are not adopted.
Symptoms of UTI in cats
Early detection is, of course, very important. Here are the symptoms from PetMD:
1. Your cat strains when urinating.
Feline idiopathic cystitis, or bladder inflammation, is the most common cause of lower urinary tract disease in cats, PetMD said.
“This inflammation, in turn, can lead to straining when urinating. It can eventually even lead to more severe and emergency type of situations like the formation of stones in the bladder or the formation of a urethral plug, which is a life-threatening condition that causes the cat (almost always male) to become ‘blocked’ (i.e., unable to urinate),” PetMD added.
2. Your cat attempts to urinate frequently.
Cats with UTI often urinate more frequently. There is little to no little water/urine coming out.
“This is obviously very frustrating and also dangerous for the cat because when a cat is blocked, they are unable to rid themselves of bodily toxic waste products through their urine, “ PetMD said.
3. Your cat is in pain when urinating
When the cat is in too much pain, he or she will start to lick the penile or vaginal area or even the abdominal area.
This is the cat’s way of trying to ease the pain or soothe themselves.
The cat can also be more irritable than usual.
4. There is blood in the urine.
Always check the litter box and your cat’s urine (and poop for other diseases).
“Cats with urinary tract disease will often have urine which is blood-tinged or discolored. Females are at greater risk for urinary tract infections that lead to blood in the urine than are males,” PetMD said.
5. Your cat urinates outside the litter box.
Urinating outside the litter box is not always a medical issue, PetMD says, but it is a cause for concern if combined with the symptoms mentioned earlier.
What to do
Please bring your cat to the veterinarian immediately when you see any of these symptoms.
PetMD said: “you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately, especially if your cat is male or has stopped urinating altogether (possibly due to being blocked).”
The following will be done:
1. Urine analysis
2. Blood test
3. Possible x-ray
4. Possible abdominal ultrasound
These tests will help the vet come up with a proper diagnosis for the proper medical treatment.
The vet will give your cat medication and may even prescribe a special diet or prescription diet like urinary or renal care food if your cat has feline urinary tract disease or FLUTD.
Please follow the instructions strictly to prevent progression of the disease into a kidney problem or worse, a kidney failure.
How to prevent UTI in cats
“Prevention is the best cure, “ stressed vetSTREET.
“Your veterinarian can provide specific guidelines to help your dog or cat stay healthier and reduce the risk of UTIs in the future,” vetSTREET said.
Here are tips from vetSTREET to prevent UTI in cats (and dogs):
1. Give plenty of water. Pets like their water clean and fresh just like humans. Do change the water every 2 hours.
2. Talk to your vet regarding your pet’s diet and make some changes as recommended.
3. Provide easy access to your cat’s litterbox and keep it clean. Additional litterboxes for a multi-cat household is ideal so that all cats will have access to a litter box. Clean the litter box always.
4. If your pet is a dog, exercise and walk him or her to encourage your pet to urinate.
5. Keep your pet’s environment clean.
6. Maintain the appropriate weight for your pet to keep your pet healthy.
7. Pay close attention to changes in your pet’s daily routine and urinary habits, which may require you to bring him or her to the vet.
“Catching a urinary tract problem early will help alleviate pain and may prevent an easily treated infection from becoming an even more serious health concern, “ vetSTREET stressed.