How do I know if my cat has a urinary tract infection?
January 24, 20236 min read
When your cat is experiencing frequent urination or an increased amount of urine, it may indicate something more serious than just a passing illness. This can be a symptom of kidney disease, infection, or other health conditions.
If you notice your dog acting sick and are concerned about his or her symptoms, take them seriously until proven otherwise. The same goes for your cats!
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help identify the cause of your kitty's frequent trips to the litter box. If you find out what’s causing their repeated visits, you can start treating the problem immediately.
It is very important to determine if your pet has urinary tract infections (UTIs) by checking their urine for color, consistency, and smell. If these are abnormal, then you need to see your veterinarian right away.
Causes of a cat urinary tract infection
Like humans, cats can get bladder infections caused by bacteria getting into the urine. This happens when there is an exposure to a risk factor for infectious disease or through direct contact with another person or animal who has the disease!
Certain things like toys that are too big or little influence how your pet uses the bathroom. If you notice changes in urination frequency, volume, or smell, it may be time to switch up the play materials so your kitty will find something more comfortable.
In some cases, a cat may develop allergies after being exposed to other animals’ waste products. These exposures occur either directly (such as when a kitten meets another young cat) or indirectly (through food contamination).
Symptoms of a cat urinary tract infection
A lot of things can cause your dog or cat to get a UTI, so it is important to be able to identify them.
If you notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite, redness in the anal area or surrounding areas, mucus in the urine, general discomfort, etc., then it is time to take action!
You should always check for signs of dehydration with frequent urination being one of the first indicators. Also, make sure that your animal’s mouth is warm by using a body heat source or having them drink some water. If they are not drinking, try talking to them about it to see if they will let you know they need to go out.
Since cats tend to hide their illnesses better than dogs, checking for any sort of illness may be more difficult unless you actively look for it. Make sure to check all bodily functions (such as pooping) for any changes. Your pet might also feel less like interacting normally with other animals or people, which could be an indicator as well.
It is very hard to tell whether your furry friend has a UTI just from looking at them, but there are ways to determine this. For instance, if they seem unusually thirsty, have them drink a little bit more than normal every few hours to ensure they are getting enough fluid.
Treatment for a cat urinary tract infection
A UTI is usually caused by bacteria in your urine that have crossed over into the bladder.
Some of these bacteria are harmless, but others can cause symptoms and even illness. Fortunately, there are ways to treat most cases naturally.
Here are some tips if your pet has been diagnosed with a simple UTI or a more severe cystitis (an inflammation of the bladder).
Simple UTIs are sometimes called “feline lower urinary tract disease” or FLUTD. More advanced bladders suffer from a more serious condition known as interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) or chronic cystitis.
This happens when repeated infections trigger an excessive immune response within the bladder wall. This often results in mucus being produced and uric acid accumulating in the urine. Both of these changes may contribute to symptoms like those mentioned above.
Treatment for a simple UTI typically includes using antibiotic drops directly onto the affected area several times per day until you notice a reduction in signs and symptoms. Sometimes this requires doing it overnight so your pet does not need to be awake for it!
For IC/BPS, additional treatments include oral antibiotics and botanical medicines like cranberry juice powder or capsules. These work by helping prevent infectious agents from sticking to the surface of the bladder where they could grow and spread.
Prevention of a cat urinary tract infection
Like humans, cats can get UTI’s when they drink water or ingest food or liquid that contains bacteria.
If you notice your cat acting sick or having symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, breathing problems, or other changes to his behavior, take him immediately to the vet.
Your vet will perform a physical examination, ask about any health issues your pet was suffering from before he became ill, and look in their mouth and nose for signs of disease. They may also do tests such as blood work, x-rays, or urinalysis.
The vet will determine if your cat has a simple UTI (urine test positive but no visible signs of illness) or a more serious cystitis (infected bladder). If it is the latter, treatment will include antibiotics.
Diagnosing a cat urinary tract infection
A thorough urinalysis is one of the most important things you can do to identify if your pet has a UTI.
A routine urinalysis looks for specific characteristics that indicate a disease process. Your veterinarian will ask about your dog’s behavior, any pain or symptoms he may be experiencing, as well as whether there are changes in his activity level.
You also might be asked to bring a sample of urine up from the bladder so your vet can check it for signs of inflammation or other abnormalities like bacteria.
Sample tests to determine if a cat has a cat urinary tract infection
The most common way to diagnose a UTI in dogs or cats is with a urine sample, typically taken via urination into a container.
If your dog or cat has symptoms of frequent vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lack of interest in food, and/or fever it may be given an intravenous antibiotic therapy before samples are gathered for testing. This is due to potential stomach irritation from the vomit or diarrhea.
After obtaining a sample, the technician will put some chemicals in the solution and run an analysis. They look to see whether there are bacteria present and what type of bacteria there are. If no bacteria are detected but red blood cells exist then they must have been expelled through bleeding somewhere else in the body so a false negative result can occur.
It is very important to make sure that you do not squeeze the bladder when taking a specimen as this could cause cystitis, which would also produce false results.
Take a prescription antibiotic
There are several different treatments for cat urinary tract infections (UTIs). Because each individual cat is genetically different, there is no magic drug that works for all cats with UTI’s.
However, some antibiotics work better than others in treating specific types of UTI's in certain individuals.
It is very important to begin treatment as soon as possible after your cat is diagnosed with a UTI so that the infection can be cleared and then you can start treatment with the right medication.
A few days will make a difference when starting treatment!
Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell if an oral medicine has actually helped your cat feel or are cured of their UTI until blood tests and urinalysis are done and the symptoms reduce or go away.
Give extra attention to your cat's bowel movement
Like people, cats have different digestive systems. Some are more watery than others as such they do not require much digestion of food.
Cats with urinary tract infections may experience symptoms like frequent urination, blood in urine or feces that seem darker in color, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or appearance, it is important to get their diagnosis and treatment right away.
It is very common for young kittens to develop bladder infection due to lack of specific antibodies. This usually goes away within weeks!
However, if left untreated, this can lead to kidney disease. Fortunately, there are ways to treat UTI in dogs and cats. Many clinics offer a free trial pack which includes the antibiotics needed to cure your pet! Find one here.