Without proper diagnosis and treatment, cat urinary tract infection can threaten the life of an otherwise healthy cat. The disease is hidden, not always easy to spot in its initial stages and rather sneaky. It is only when your pet starts feeling uncomfortable that you begin to notice something is amiss. Learn more about feline UTI, its symptoms and your treatment options.
What is cat UTI?
UTI is a type of infection that affects the lower urinary system of the cat. The disease is usually caused by microorganisms and may lead to a complete or partial blockage of the urethra. Although urinary tract infection can affect all cats, it is usually common among females. Cats who are in a lot of stress are usually the most vulnerable to this disease because of lowered resistance.
Symptoms usually appear in later stages but the observant cat owner may be able to spot it in time. Some of the signs of cat UTI include:
- increased thirst
- blood and/or pus in the urine; if you see small specks of blood or urine with a pinkish tinge, go the the vet immediately
- pain when urinating; your cat may even howl or cry out in pain while passing urine
- incontinence; your cat may urinate just about anywhere
- excessive licking of genitals
- reluctance in using the litter box
Your veterinarian may require a urine sample to test your cat for UTI. Blood samples may also be taken to check for blood count and chemistries. By analyzing the samples, your vet will be able to determine if an infection is indeed present. He or she will also be able to find out if the infection was caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Sometimes, your vet may ask you to use a lab strip that will allow you to test your cat’s urine pH at home.
A physical examination may also be conducted to check your pet for any possible problems, such as trauma, abnormalities in the anatomy or disorders of the digestive and nervous systems. If kidney stones are suspected, the vet may also take x-rays. If the possibility of your pet having stones, polyps or cysts is high, the vet may perform a cystocopy as well.
In case the infection was caused by microorganisms, treatment may consist of antibiotics or antivirals. Anti-parasitic medications may also be given to treat parasites that may have caused the problem. A key method in the treatment is increasing the volume of the urine by allowing the cat to ingest more fluids. This will help dilute the toxins and irritants which will be flushed away through urination. It may also be necessary to feed the cat a high-moisture diet for this purpose.
If your pet has a blockage in the urethra, it may have to be hospitalized for proper observation and treatment. Depending on the severity of the case, your cat may be put on a catheter or undergo surgery to remove any cysts, stones or other growths.
Once a cat has had UTI, there is a high risk that he or she may develop it again, so care must be taken that any possible sources of infection is removed or at least minimized from the environment. Providing clean, fresh water, high quality food and plenty of opportunities for exercise can also help.