Urinary Tract Infections in Cats: Diagnosis and Treatment
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common health problem in cats. They can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract and multiply.
Symptoms of UTIs in Cats
The most common symptoms of UTIs in cats include:
- Straining to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Urinating small amounts of urine
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Blood in the urine
- Licking around the genitals
- Pain or discomfort when urinating
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, you must immediately take them to the veterinarian. UTIs can be severe, especially in male cats, whose urethras are narrower than females’ and can become blocked.
Diagnosis of UTIs in Cats
Your veterinarian will begin by physically examining your cat and asking you about their medical history. They will then likely collect a urine sample for testing. Cystocentesis may do this, which involves inserting a needle into the bladder through the abdominal wall.
The urine sample will be tested for the presence of bacteria, white blood cells, and red blood cells. White and red blood cells in the urine can indicate infection. The urine sample may also be cultured to identify the specific type of bacteria causing the infection.
In some cases, your veterinarian may also recommend other tests, such as an X-ray or ultrasound of the urinary tract, to rule out other causes of the cat’s symptoms, such as bladder stones or tumors.
Treatment of UTIs in Cats
The most common treatment for UTIs in cats is antibiotics. The antibiotic treatment type and duration will depend on the severity of the infection and the type of bacteria causing it.
In some cases, your veterinarian may also recommend other treatments, such as:
- Pain medication: To help relieve the cat’s discomfort.
- Urinary acidifiers: To make the cat’s urine more acidic and less hospitable to bacteria.
- Fluid therapy: To help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.
- Diet change: A prescription diet designed to help reduce the risk of urinary tract problems.
The prognosis for Cats with UTIs
The prognosis for cats with UTIs is generally good, especially if the infection is diagnosed and treated early. However, following your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and completing the entire course of antibiotics, even if your cat starts to feel better sooner, is essential.
Prevention of UTIs in Cats
There are several things you can do to help prevent UTIs in your cat, including:
- Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water. This will help to dilute their urine and flush out bacteria.
- Feed your cat a high-quality diet. Avoid feeding your cat dry food, as this can lead to concentrated urine, which is more likely to develop into a UTI.
- Keep your cat’s litter box clean. Scoop the litter box at least once a day and completely change the litter every week.
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your cat’s urinary health.
Additional Information on UTIs in Cats
Risk Factors for UTIs in Cats
Confident cats are at an increased risk of developing UTIs, including:
- Male cats: Male cats have narrower urethras than female cats, making it more difficult for them to pass urine and leading to blockages.
- Senior cats: As cats age, their immune systems weaken, making them more susceptible to infections.
- Cats with obesity: Obese cats are more likely to develop diabetes, which can increase their risk of UTIs.
- Cats with other medical conditions: UTIs can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as bladder stones, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Complications of UTIs in Cats
If UTIs are not treated promptly, they can lead to severe complications, such as:
- Pyelonephritis: An infection of the kidneys.
- Urethral blockage: A blockage of the urethra that can prevent the cat from urinating.
- Sepsis: A life-threatening condition that can spread throughout the body.
How to Administer Antibiotics to Your Cat
If your veterinarian prescribes antibiotics for your cat, it is essential to give them as directed.