Urinary tract infections are common in cats. Whether the infection is a matter of immediate concern or not depends upon the physical symptoms. UTI in cats is caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract via the urethra and reaching the bladder. The most common bacteria known to cause these infections include Pseudomonas, Streptococcus, Chlamydia, Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and E. coli.
Spinal cord complications, injury to the urethra, and emotional or environmental stress may also lead to urinary tract infections. While most UTIs in cats are linked with other existing conditions like diabetes or leukemia virus, it is still possible for your cat to get chronic UTIs without pre-existing conditions.
While it’s hard to be certain about the exact cause of UTI in cats, some allergies are known to contribute to bladder aggravation, leading to perennial UTIs. Male cats have a high chance of getting UTIs due to their narrower urethras. That said, female cats are not immune to this potentially life-threatening infection either.
Feline Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
Feline urinary tract infection affects the cat’s bladder and urethra. Cats suffering from this infection have increased frequency in urination, difficulties when urinating, and blood in the urine. Cats may also urinate outside the litter box, lick themselves excessively, and prefer cold, smooth surfaces like a bathtub. The cats’ urine is likely to be cloudy and reek of strong ammonia.
The infection is prevalent in middle-aged cats, overweight cats that feed on dry food, cats that use an indoor litter box, sudden changes in the daily routine, reduced activity levels, cats that get little or no outdoor access are all triggers for the infection. Cats in multi-cat households are also at risk.
The primary symptoms of feline urinary tract infection are:
- Straining to urinate
- Increased attempts to urinate
- Urinating little amounts
- Blood in the urine
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Crying out while urinating
- Excessive licking of the genital areas
Not so obvious symptoms may include unusual dehydration, vomiting, bloated stomach, and lethargy.
How long can a cat UTI go untreated?
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) should be treated immediately instead of hoping it will go away on its own. If left untreated for more than a day or two, cats may suffer a partial or complete obstruction of the urethra. If the urethra is obstructed, your cat will have difficulties urinating or won’t be able to urinate at all. This can further lead to a ruptured bladder or kidney failure which is potentially fatal.
Can a UTI kill a cat?
Urinary tract infection in cats is one of the top reasons for emergency vet visits, as things can escalate rather quickly. If your cat is able to pass urine or in other words, there is no obstruction in the bladder then it doesn’t have to be fatal. However, if your cat stops using the litter box or is unable to urinate, you can be fairly sure that your cat has a urinary blockage. Blocked urinary tracts can kill a cat, relatively quickly. In either case, get immediate medical attention.
How Can I Treat My Cats' UTI Naturally?
As a cat owner, you know how heartbreaking it is to see your cat suffering. Since cat UTI symptoms are not always obvious, we are forced to act based on what we can see. Diagnosis normally needs trial and error and frequent vet visits. Mostly an illness will be revealed through common symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting. However, in the case of UTIs, the early signs can be easily over looked.
If you suspect that your cat has UTI, there are several measures you can take to treat the infection at home. However, this generic advice is not intended to be a substitute to your vet’s advice regarding the condition. The natural home remedies are only ideal for mild-infections, in which the cat is still able to pass urine, not crying out in pain, and appears to be having only mild discomfort. Remedies for cat UTI treatment at home include:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature but when it enters the gut, it alkalizes the body. Adding it to your cat’s food may eliminate and prevent the recurrence of harmful bacteria. Add half a teaspoon of vinegar with one teaspoon chicken broth to your cat’s canned food every day. If your cat has a UTI infection at present, the addition of apple cider vinegar should relieve their symptoms within a few days. If the symptoms persist, visit a vet.
Ensuring your cat stays hydrated is crucial in treating recurrent UTIs. To achieve this, encourage your cat to drink water frequently or increase the water content in their food. An efficient way to do this is to give your cat bone broth. Bone broth will not only ensure your cat stays hydrated but will also give beneficial nutrients that will help suppress the infection. Other good options are boiled fish or chicken soaking in broth.
D-Mannose for cats is a wholly absorbable sugar available in powder or capsule form. It helps in treating Urinary tract infections in cats safely and relatively quickly by flushing out the bacteria. It helps maintain normal urine pH in cats, improve bladder health and normalize the function of urinary tract in cats. D-mannose with its anti-microbial properties is highly beneficial in cat UTI prevention and also treating UTI in cats.
When D-Mannose is present in your cat’s urine, the harmful bacteria that usually sticks to the urethra and lining of the bladder instead sticks to the sugar and is excreted with the urine. It is best administered by adding it to your cat’s food. Some cat owners have reported that their cats didn’t drink the water that had D-Mannose added to it.
When should I take my cat to the vet for UTI?
Cat owners often wonder if they should take their cat to a vet or will cat UTI go away on its own. While these natural home remedies may work for mild infections, remember that urinary tract infections can be life-threatening if not treated. If your cat cannot urinate, passing bloody urine, or in severe pain, visit a vet immediately.
Cat UTI treatment will vary depending on the cat’s situation. A vet will normally prescribe antibiotics for UTIs. It is crucial to mention that you must complete the full dose prescribed even when you notice the symptoms have been alleviated. Ignoring such can bring about recurrent tract infections with a bacterium that has a high resistance to treatment.
With proper treatment, urinary tract infections will usually subside within a week. However, they can recur, so it’s best to look out for the symptoms and act quickly to prevent another infection.
How do vets check for urinary tract infection in cats?
Your vet may perform a complete medical examination involving bladder palpitation to see if it’s full. They will then carry out several diagnostic tests to test your cat’s urine. Depending upon the severity of the infection, your vet may also prescribe cat UTI antibiotics or recommend a change in diet.
How to prevent UTI in cats?
- Consider getting a specific type of cat food to prevent UTI.
- Add more canned food to your cat’s diet to maintain high levels of hydration. You may consider getting a cat fountain. Cats are amused by running water from the fountain so they may be tempted to drink more water.
- Always keep the litter box clean. Since cats do not like to re-use a dirty litter box, you may consider having an additional litterbox if you are going to be away for a day or two. You can also switch to cat litter that detects UTI. This is a special type of diagnostic cat litter that changes color to alert cat owners if it detects any illnesses in the urine.
- Make sure your cat is not stressed. A 20-minute daily play session can do wonders to your cats’ mental health. Engage them in activities or spend more time with your cat to help overcome their anxiety.
Your cats’ urinary tract infection recovery depends on the severity of the condition and how quickly the cat was treated. For serious bladder obstructions, the recovery period is longer and may require multiple tests over a period of time. Understand the symptoms of urinary tract infections so you can seek medical assistance for your cat as soon as possible. Monitoring your cats’ toilet routine and paying proper attention to your cats’ litterbox habits will help keep them in general good health, eliminating the risk of infections, including UTI.