Why Is My Cat Lying In The Litter Box
If your cat has been lying in the litter box a lot lately, it might point to stress or illness, but its not always a sign of urinary tract issues. In addition to lying in the litter box, cats with UTIs or other urinary problems will strain, lick at their genitals, hide, meow in the box, and look restless.
If your cat is lying in the litter box and also exhibiting these behaviors, theres a good chance that a UTI or other urinary tract issue is to blame.
Among cats with urinary tract problems, this behavior appears to result from a mix of stress and, perhaps, a need to stay in the box just in case something changes. Imagine feeling like you had to urinate for hours but couldnt get everything outwouldnt you stay near the toilet?
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.
Seeking Help From A Veterinarian
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How Do Indoor Cats Get Uti
In cats, the most common symptoms of urinary tract infections include strained urination, reduced urine volume, not urinating at all, pain or discomfort when urinating, blood tinged urine, and urine leaking around the house, outside of the litter box.
Urinary tract infections are uncommon in cats. Urinary tract infections are uncommon in cats only 1-3% will develop symptoms. Ureititis should not be confused with other conditions such as crystals in the urine. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria in cats. An antibiotic is usually used to treat a urinary tract infection in a cat. An acute infection is usually treated with antibiotics in a short period of time. A chronic infection usually necessitates more testing to identify the specific type of bacteria that causes it.
A cat usually recovers within seven to ten days of being diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. If you have cats with UTIs, cranberry juice or cranberry products are not recommended as a treatment. If you change the pH of your cats urine, which cranberry is commonly used to do, crystals and stones may form. When an animal exhibits symptoms of a mild UTI, its immune system may fight them off on its own.
Is It Really A Urinary Tract Infection
Although urinary tract infections are often easy to spot, other conditions can have similar symptoms. Bladder stones, for example, can cause your cat to develop blood in the urine, straining, and inappropriate urination. Conditions that make your cat urinate more frequently, such as diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease, can also result in inappropriate urination and frequent trips to the litter box. Litter box management issues, such as a box that is dirty or hard to access, can also lead to inappropriate urination.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease also known as sterile cystitis, chronic interstitial cystitis, or Pandora syndrome is another common condition that can cause symptoms almost identical to a urinary tract infection. Cats with FLUTD often experience recurrent bouts of inflammation within the urinary bladder, resulting in symptoms such as blood in the urine, inappropriate urination, and frequent urination. The difference between FLUTD and a UTI is that a cat with FLUTD does not have an infection there are no bacteria or other organisms present in the urine and treatment with antibiotics is unlikely to be beneficial.
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Treating Utis In Cats
Antibiotics will be prescribed to kill the bacteria in the bladder and symptomatic treatment may also be necessary to ease a cat’s discomfort. This usually includes pain medications. Probiotics may also be recommended to restore a healthy population of bacteria in the gut after the antibiotics since beneficial bacteria may also be wiped out by a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
The choice of antibiotic should be guided by the culture and sensitivity results, however, ease of administration, such as pills vs. liquid vs. injection, may also play a role in addition to any underlying conditions your cat may have.
Are There Any Home Remedies For Cat Utis
Unfortunately, there is no good way to treat your cats UTI at home. Particularly in this instance, where medical issues can quickly lead to behavioral issues like peeing outside of the box, its important to get your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the cause and treatment.
True infections are actually much less common than sterile inflammatory episodes, and these are treated very differently. Additionally, UTIs in male cats can sometimes lead to urinary obstruction, a life-threatening emergency. To avoid costly treatments and frustrating behaviors from developing, seeking veterinary care promptly is ideal.
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How Can I Help My Cat Pee
Bringing your cat to a vet is the single most reliable way to get your cat unblocked and able to pee again. Veterinarians have the tools and know-how to physically clear the blockage and get your cat back on the path to recovery.
A simple procedure could save your cats life. Anything else is a dangerous waste of time.
How To Get A Urine Sample From Your Cat
A sample can be obtained in one of two ways: either a free-catch sample or via a cystocentesis. Your veterinarian will let you know which type of sample they’ll want. Free catch samples are collected when a cat urinates, like normal, into a litter box with a non-absorbent litter like NoSorb or Kit4Cat. Your veterinarian may have these products to send home with you to allow you to collect a sample on your own, or they may recommend keeping your cat at the clinic for a few hours to see if the cat will use them there.
For more at-home urine collection tips, check out How to Collect Your Cats Urine Sample.
If youre using a non-absorbent litter, simply pour off the urine into a clean, dry container . The tricky thing is that these samples are not as sterile , and its hard to know if and when a cat will use the box with a new-to-them litter.
Samples are ideally run within one hour of collection. Older samples, up to six hours old, can be refrigerated while theyre being transported to the veterinarian, but this can cause artifacts and crystals to develop. But the more recent a sample the better! After an hour, crystals can begin to form artificially, even under refrigeration. The older a sample, the less sure your veterinarian can be that these crystals are from your cat’s bladder versus a result of the sample sitting too long before testing.
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What Makes Up The Urinary Tract
To understand which organ is affected by a UTI, lets take a moment for a basic anatomy lesson. The urinary tract can be divided into an upper and lower portion. The upper urinary tract consists of the kidneys and ureters . The lower urinary tract includes the urinary bladder as well as the urethra .
How Common Are Urinary Tract Infections In Pets
Lower urinary tract infections are quite common in dogs. An estimated 14% of dogs will suffer from a UTI at some point in their life. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that climb up the urethra into the bladder. Most of these bacterial species arise from fecal material or due to nearby infections of the skin around the vulva or prepuce in females and males, respectively. Other bacteria that can cause UTIs include Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Proteus, and Klebsiella. Fungal infections of the bladder can also uncommonly occur, and are most likely to develop as a complication of diabetic patients. Such fungal organisms include Candida and Blastomyces. Viral and parasitic UTIs are rare.
In contrast, lower urinary tract infections are uncommon in felines. Instead, if your cat is urinating small amounts, is urinating outside the litterbox, is straining in an attempt to urinate, or has bloody urine, he or she may instead have Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease . FLUTD is occasionally caused by bacterial infections but is primarily due to sterile inflammation without an infectious cause . You can read more about FLUTD in our article here.
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Are Some Cats More Susceptible To Uti
Yes, some cats are predisposed to urinary tract infections.
Cats suffering from other urinary tract issues such as bladder stones are more prone to developing UTI and its recurrence. Therefore, if your cat has bladder stones, you should get them removed surgically or dissolved with medication and restore bladder health.
Similarly, senior catsespecially female catsand diabetic cats are more susceptible to feline urinary tract infections.
Why Cats Are Prone To Urine Crystals And Bladder Stones
Urine crystals and bladder stones form from sediment in the urine, composed of a variety of substances including magnesium, calcium, and/or phosphorus. Special diets that prevent the formation of one kind of crystal can actually cause the other, so it is best to avoid such diets for your cat unless directed by your veterinarian.
A great deal of research has been on-going as to the relationship of diet to urinary tract health, and the thinking has changed over time. Originally it was thought that diets high in magnesium and ash contributed to the problem. Now, more emphasis is being placed on the pH of urine , how dilute the urine is, as well as non-dietary factors.
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What Do Litterboxes Have To Do With Utis
Scooping your cats litterbox daily will help you keep a close eye on your cats urinary habits, making it more likely that you will notice if something changes.
The Indoor Pet Initiative at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine offers some other general litterbox guidelines.
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What Medications Are Used To Treat Feline Utis
For true infections where bacteria is confirmed to be present, your veterinarian will likely prescribe oral antibiotics or a long-lasting antibiotic injection to treat the infection. They may also prescribe anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation in the bladder and discomfort for your cat.
PRO TIP: Did you know that there is one simple step you can take that can increase the effectiveness of your pet’s UTI antibiotic? There is, and it’s as simple as timing. Read more about the best time to give your cat their UTI medication.
For instances of sterile cystitis, also known as Feline Inflammatory Cystitis or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease , where inflammation is present in the absences of infection or crystals, these cats are often treated with a multimodal plan.
In addition to anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation in the bladder, your veterinarian may recommend a combination of several things to manage this complicated disease, which may include:
- Special diet formulated to change pH and decrease inflammation
- Supplements to strengthen the cell layer of the bladder wall
- Reduction of stress
- Increased water/moisture intake with circulating water fountains and all-canned diets.
Prescription Cat Food for UTIs
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Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infection In Cats
When diagnosing a UTI, your veterinarian will begin by taking a complete medical history. The vet may ask about changes in your cats water consumption, frequency of urination, amount of urination, how the urine looks, and any behavioral changes. Your vet will also perform a physical examination to assess the bladder and kidneys, as well as the genitalia and sometimes the rectum. If there is trouble with urination, a neurological exam may be conducted.
Your cats urine and blood will also be tested. Urinalysis is one of the most important and useful tests for diagnosing a UTI. It will look for the presence of certain chemicals or substances in the urine, like sugar, ketones, bilirubin, blood, and protein. A urinalysis is best conducted on a fresh urine sample to prevent inaccurate results.
Based on the findings, additional testing may need to be conducted. In particular, a urine culture may be performed to confirm the presence of an infection and to determine what type of bacteria are involved. Since it often takes 3 to 5 days to obtain final culture results, your veterinarian will likely start your cat on broad-spectrum antibiotics in the interim. The typical duration of antibiotic therapy is 7 to 14 days.
Predisposing Causes Of A Lower Uti
As discussed previously, your dog or cats body has natural protective factors to aid in the prevention of a bladder infection. However, certain disorders can impair these natural defenses, making your pet more susceptible to developing a UTI. Concurrent disorders or other issues that can predispose your pet to a bladder infection include:
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Natural Home Remedies For Cat Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection in cats is very uncomfortable and, if left untreated, could lead to complete obstruction of the urethra and could even lead to rupturing of the bladder and failure of the kidney, which could be fatal. Therefore, you should be very careful and observant of your cats behavior. If she is showing the above-discussed signs of feline urinary tract infection, you should make a vet appointment, and until then, you could help her with the following home remedies for urinary tract infection in cats.
When Is A Cat Uti An Emergency
If you are noticing that your cat is struggling to produce urine, your cat cant pee, or is straining to urinate and there is no urine coming out, this is a true emergency especially if your cat is male.
This can be a sign of a urethral obstruction which can lead to severe health conditions and even death if not addressed right away by your veterinarian.
If your cat is blocked, this means your cat cannot pee and can lead to acute kidney failure and as mentioned, a painful death if not addressed.
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Transitioning Your Cat To A Raw Meat Diet
If you want your cats urinary system to function properly, feed him a diet that is as close to his natural diet as possible. A raw meat diet is the best option for your pet, and most holistic pet stores or progressive vets can assist you in transitioning to this style of feeding. It is true that only dry food can cause your cat to develop urinary problems, so imitating this diet by feeding your cat wet or even raw food can help keep this from happening.
What Else Should You Know About Utis In Cats
Fortunately, urinary tract infections arent contagious to other cats in the household! However, as a preventative measure, there is never any harm in having good litter box husbandry.
This means scooping the litter at least once a day to keep it fresh , and aiming to fully wash down the litter box once a month. If the litter box is over a year old, consider getting a new one as another way to keep things clean and fresh.
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