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Why Do Cats Get Urinary Tract Infections

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Feline Idiopathic Cystitis And Stress

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Cats – Dr. Justine Lee

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is the final category under the FLUTD umbrella of conditions. FIC is essentially what is left behind after infection, urinary crystals, bladder stones, and tumors, have all been ruled out as causes.

FIC is also sometimes called Pandora Syndrome, because its underlying causes have been found to be multifactorial, but largely associated with environmental stressors. The stresses we may not even consider stressful ourselves. This can include interactions with other pets in the home, a home environment that is overstimulating or one that is too understimulating.

Not every cat will develop signs of FIC during times of stress. It is thought that these cats that are poorly wired to handle stress have responses different from other cats in their nervous and hormonal systems, that leads to inflammation in the bladder wall. When the bladder wall becomes leaky, urine can penetrate the tissues, causing further inflammation and pain.

Written bySmall Doorâs medical experts

Bacterial urinary tract infections are a fairly common condition among cats. While UTIs are usually relatively easy to diagnose and cure, they can develop into a more serious condition if left untreated. Urinary tract infections can occur in both young and old cats.

In This Article

Urinary Health Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian

  • What may be causing my cats accidents? What are the short-term and long-term treatment options?
  • Be sure to ask if infrequent or non-patterned accidents may be a sign of a more serious problem.
  • Ask if the problem is behavioral, environmental or medical.
  • Ask how nutrition and water consumption may be affecting your cats health.
  • Should nutrition be a part of my cats treatment regimen? Would you recommend a Hills® Prescription Diet® cat food for my cats bladder health?
  • What if I have multiple cats? Can I feed them all the same cat food?
  • How can nutrition help? What is the benefit of feeding therapeutic nutrition versus administering pills?
  • What are the pros and cons of using nutrition to help manage my cats urinary health?
  • Which form of cat food is better for urinary issues, kibble or wet? Why?
  • If you feed your cat a mixture of kibble and wet food, ask which therapeutic formulas can be mixed.
  • How long will I need to feed the recommended food to my cat?
  • Ask how feeding a therapeutic cat food can help promote long-term urinary health for my cat?
  • What is the best way to reach you or your hospital if I have questions?
  • Ask if you need a follow-up appointment.
  • Ask if a reminder email or notice will be sent.
  • How Is A Uti Treated

    Your vet will most likely prescribe a general antibiotic right away. After the tests are evaluated and she has a better idea of the problem, a more specific, tailored antibiotic will be prescribed. Youll also be encouraged to do whatever you can to increase your cats water intake, such as making sure to have fresh, cool water available, have warm chicken broth for them to drink, and switch to feeding them wet food instead of dry kibble.

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    What Are The Causes Of Flutd


    One possible cause of FLUTD is the formation of urinary stones, also called uroliths, in the bladder and/or urethra. These are collections of minerals that form in the urinary tract of cats. X-rays or ultrasound are usually needed to diagnose urinary stones. The most commonly seen uroliths are calcium oxalate and struvite . While a special, stone-dissolving diet can be prescribed to dissolve struvite stones, calcium oxalate stones need to be removed surgically. If the diet fails, or if the stones form again, then surgery may also be necessary for struvite stones. In female cats, it may also be possible for a veterinarian to help a cat pass stones by flushing its bladder with sterile fluids or remove small stones directly from the bladder using a cystoscope when the cat is under anesthesia. A veterinarian may then recommend medication or dietary changes after surgery to help prevent recurrence.

    Urinary infection

    Infection of your cats urinary tract with bacteria, fungi, parasites or possibly even viruses can cause signs of FLUTD. Although bacterial infections are more common than fungal, parasitic or viral infections, they are still relatively uncommon in cats. If an infection is found, your veterinarian will probably look for another disease or problem that may have put your cat at risk of infection. For example, uroliths and diabetes can increase the risk of urinary tract infection.

    Urethral obstruction

    Feline idiopathic cystitis

    Other causes

    Treating Utis In Cats

    Urinary Tract Disease 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.

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    Recovery And Management Of Flutd

    Though improvement of symptoms can occur within days, it is common for FLUTD to come back, so active management will be a lifelong commitment. Medications may only be used long-term in severe cases. Cats that respond well to prescription diets should stay on them indefinitely. You will work with your veterinarian to adjust treatment accordingly.

    Sudden changes in your cats environment make it much more likely for symptoms to return. You will need to try to anticipate stressful situations for your cat, such as moving or adding new pets or family members to the household.

    While many cats with FLUTD can live a long and happy life, it is not uncommon for treatment to fail. Unfortunately, euthanasia may be considered for cats with pain and anxiety that cannot be controlled.

    Can Apple Cider Vinegar Cure Uti In Cats

    Apple cider vinegar is an excellent remedy option for urinary tract infections in cats. It can be used to create proper pH balance in your cats urine and maintain it, which works to get rid of bacteria. Reduced bacteria will allow your cats urinary tract to naturally heal and stay healthy afterward.

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    Things You Can Do Yourself

    To help ease symptoms of a urinary tract infection :

    • takeparacetamolup to 4 times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature for people with a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
    • you can give childrenliquid paracetamol
    • rest and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day
    • avoid having sex

    Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent UTIs from happening, which may help. However, theres no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat a UTI if the infection has already started.

    Are Weak Legs A Cat Uti Symptom

    what are the causes and signs of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Infection (FLUTD) in cats?

    Urinary tract infections and other forms of urinary tract disease will not paralyze or weaken your cats legs. However, some cats may take on an odd gait or hold their bodies differently due to the pain of FLUTD.

    If the disease is left untreated for a day or more, your cat may feel extremely fatigued and might not be able to walk normally.

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    My Veterinarian Sent A Sample Of Urine To A Laboratory For What She Called A Culture And Sensitivity Test What Is This

    All urinary tract infections are NOT created equal! Even though the most common organism to cause UTIs in cats is Escherichia coli , there are several other organisms that may be involved. The only way to identify which specific bacteria is causing the UTI, is to grow it in a laboratory. At the same time, the laboratory can also test which antibiotic is best suited to treat the infection.

    “The only way to identify which specific bacteria is causing the UTI, is to grow it in a laboratory.”

    Often, a veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic that is among the most commonly used for treating UTIs in order to try to provide immediate relief to the cat. They may also prescribe pain medications , and may recommend a diet change.

    Once the culture and sensitivity results are received, an appropriate antibiotic will be prescribed. After the course of antibiotics is given, it is important to recheck the urinalysis to confirm that the infection is resolved. If it is not, then it will be important to look for other issues that may contribute to a persistent UTI.

    Concerns And Causes Of Urinary Tract Issues

    Contrary to popular belief, 99 percent of cats that show signs of urinary tract issues do not have an actual infection. In an otherwise healthy feline, UTIs are rare. This is because they naturally have very concentrated urine that does not support bacterial growth. Most cats are, instead, suffering from bladder wall inflammation, also known as cystitis or interstitialOf, forming, or occupying interstices . cystitis. The most common cause of cystitis in your feline is stress. Examples of causes for feline stress include illness, pain, an owner who goes on vacation, boarding, change of litter or food and introduction of a new pet into the house. Cystitis is very painful, and your cat may begin to associate the litter box with pain. This can lead to litter box aversion, causing your cat to start urinating in other places. Left unchecked, inflammation can progress to a UTI, urinary crystals and even bladder stones due to a pH imbalance.

    Urinary crystalsExcretion of crystals in the urine. can be the cause of urethral obstruction, which is a condition in which the urethra becomes completely occluded and your pet is unable to pass any urine at all. Urethral obstruction occurs most commonly in neutered male cats but can happen in any cat with urinary tract issues. Urethral obstruction is considered an emergency, so any cat exhibiting signs of this problem should be seen by a veterinarian quickly so issues can be addressed before they become life-threatening.

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    Cat Urinary Tract Infections

    True urinary tract infections in cats are very rare. Instead, in cats, we see a range of conditions which can cause cystitis, referred to as feline lower urinary tract disease .

    FLUTD is any disorder affecting the bladder or urethra of cats. It is common, affecting approximately 1-3% of cats each year. Both male and female cats can be affected. Male cats are more prone to obstructions by crystals or plugs, due to their long narrow urethra.

    What Causes Feline Urinary Tract Disease

    What is Urinary Tract Infection in Cats, Symptoms and Treatment

    FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since there are multiple causes and contributing factors to this disease. Crystals, stones or debris can gradually build up in your cat’s urethra – the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cats body – or bladder.

    There are other common causes of lower urinary tract issues which may be:

    • Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
    • Spinal cord issues
    • Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
    • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection
    • Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
    • Congenital abnormalities
    • Emotional or environmental stressors

    If a cat has little to no access to outdoors, eats a dry food diet or does not get enough physical activity, as well as being a middle-aged cat then are far more likely to be diagnosed with FLUTD, although cats of any age can get the condition. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since their narrower urethras are more likely to become blocked.

    Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households or sudden changes to their everyday routine can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.

    Typically FLUTD is only a symptom of other more serious conditions and so it is imperative to have your cat properly diagnosed. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.

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    Reducing Other Risk Factors

  • 1Choose an unscented, non-clumping litter. Litters that are scented and that clump for scooping may also increase your cats risk of developing a UTI, as your cat may be put off by them and urinate less frequently. To eliminate this risk factor, replace your cats litter with an unscented, non-clumping litter.XResearch source
  • Keep the amount of litter to only 1 inch to 2 inches . Cats that get UTIs prefer smooth surfaces, such as tile and bathtubs, so you may even want to keep a litter box with no litter in it at all to ensure that your cat will use its box.
  • Make sure to keep the litter boxes clean by scooping them daily and doing a complete litter box change every week. This will help to reduce the bacteria in the box and encourage your cat to use the box as well. During your weekly litter change, clean your litter box with mild soap and water rather than any harsh chemicals that might repel your cat.
  • 2Place multiple litter boxes in your home. Cats that are prone to UTIs may need urinate frequently, and it is important to make sure that they have plenty of options, or they might go on the floor or your furniture. You should have 1 more litter box than the total number of cats in your home.
  • For example, if you have 3 cats, then you should have 4 litter boxes in your home.
  • Place the litter boxes in quiet corners of your home to ensure that your cat will not be disturbed while it uses the box.XResearch source
  • Use ball toys to give your cat something to chase.
  • How Do Veterinarians Diagnose A Cat Uti

    To diagnose a cat UTI, the vet will start with a general physical exam and then focus on the cats symptoms. The vet will ask questions to gather as much information as possible.

    Once it is suspected that a cat may have a UTI, the vet will collect a urine samplefor a urinalysis and urine culture. Other diagnostic tests the vet may recommend are abdominal ultrasound and x-rays.

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    Antimicrobial Treatment Of Pyelonephritis

    If pyelonephritis is suspected ,4), and empirical treatment is needed, antimicrobials with a good efficacy against Gram-negative bacteria are recommended. The treatment must be adjusted according to susceptibility test results. Evidence-based recommendations on treatment duration are lacking, and while treatment durations of 46 weeks previously were considered reasonable, shorter periods of treatment have been reported to be effective in humans,91 and the 2019 ISCAID guidelines recommend 1014 days in veterinary patients.12 Repeated cultures during the treatment period are no longer automatically warranted, but should be considered in cases of incomplete clinical response, while cultures 12 weeks post-treatment are recommended for all cases.12 As for recurrent/complicated cystitis, consideration must be given to the clinical relevance of possible positive cultures post-treatment. Differentiation between sub-clinical bacteriuria and persistent infections may be challenging and reasons for potential persistence must be thoroughly investigated.12

    Severe necrosuppurative pyelonephritis. Haematoxylin and eosin stain of a histological section of the renal papilla of the same cat as in Figure 1, showing severe inflammation with multiple neutrophils and bacterial colonies bar = 50 m. Courtesy of Dr Monir Majzoub-Altweck, Institute of Veterinary Pathology, LMU Munich

    What Causes Utis In Cats

    What Causes Cats To Get Urinary Tract Infections

    In general, urinary tract infections develop when the urethra becomes contaminated with bacteria that normally colonize the rectum and surrounding area. Once in the urethra, the bacteria migrate upstream and take up residence in the bladder.

    The presence of mineralized bladder stones or crystals in the urine may also be a cause of UTIs. Because the crystals are hard and irritating to the bladder, theres a greater risk for infection.

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    How To Prevent Cat Urinary Tract Infections

    There is always a chance, and sometimes a good chance, that your cat’s UTI or other lower urinary tract problem will recur. Some recommendations to help prevent recurrences of UTIs and other issues are relatively inexpensive. You can start by taking steps to keep your cat healthy. In addition, your veterinarian may suggest some options like these:

    Adjust your cat’s diet. Feed measured, high-quality meals on a regular basis and keep your cat at a healthy weight. With your vet’s recommendation, consider a change to a specialized diet for urinary conditions or a switch to wet food . Here are tips from the American Association of Feline Practitioners covering best practices for healthy feeding.

    Manage your cat’s water. Keep bowls clean and fresh at all times. More water intake can lower urine concentration, making it more difficult for debris and microorganisms to clump and multiply. You may also consider getting a drinking fountain since many cats are drawn to flowing water.

    Calm your cat. Avoid major changes in household routine, and watch for ways to reduce your cat’s stress and anxiety. Consider making some changes in your home to enrich your cat’s life. Learn more about your cats’ senses and ways veterinarians think cats get stressedwhich can manifest itself in the form of illness.

    Talk to your vet about the best preventive care and UTI treatments for your cat.

    The Causes Of Urinary Issues In Cats

    A cats urinary system can have inflammation, or suffer from a build-up of minerals in the bladder. These minerals can eventually crystallize and then build and join to form stones, which can irritate the urinary system and block the passage of urine. Older cats with frequent urination can also suffer from chronic kidney disease or other systemic illnesses.

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