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Urinary Tract Infection in Cats

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Created: 08/06/2021 - Shelley Simmons

Health & Wellbeing

Urinary tract infections can be less common in cats as they are more likely to suffer with urinary tract disorders.

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

Generally, a UTI occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra and into the bladder. Urine in the bladder is generally sterile, but once bacteria enter, they can grow and reproduce, causing the UTI. Some animals can develop bladder stones in conjunction with a UTI.

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Symptoms of UTI in cats

  • Attempting to urinate more frequently than usual

  • Having accidents in the home

  • Drinking more than usual

  • Straining to urinate

  • Crying in pain when trying to urinate

  • Dripping urine

  • Frequent licking of genitals

  • Strong odour to the urine

  • Urinating outside or near the litter tray

Straining and passing nothing at all can indicate a blockage of the urinary tract or inflammation of the bladder and is an EMERGENCY and you should contact your Veterinary practice immediately.

Causes and symptoms of UTI in cats

True urinary infections in cats are quite rare. Cats tend to develop a range of conditions that are more likely to cause cystitis, which is referred to as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).

There are many factors associated with FLUTD, here are a few common causes:

  • Urolithiasis (formation of crystals and urinary stones in the bladder.

  • Urethral plugs (common in males due to their long narrow urethra.

  • Idiopathic cystitis – often triggered by stress. This can be caused by changes in routine, multi-cat households, external traumas, new pets or events such as fireworks.

  • Certain diseases such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism can also lead to urinary tract infections especially in older cats.

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Preventing FLUTD in cats

Prevention and treatment of FLUTD includes many factors including stress related and behavioural concerns.

  • Provide fresh drinking water daily. Offering a choice of water stations for cats is ideal and water fountains are very popular. Adding water to their dry food or feeding wet food will help to increase your cat’s water consumption.

  • Clean litter trays. Cats should always have access to a litter tray (even if they prefer to toilet outside) and should have at least one litter tray per cat and one spare. They should be positioned in quiet, safe areas of the house. If you have issues with the cat using the litter tray then you could try choosing a different litter and/or a different style of tray (covered or open, low sided or high sided). Once the cat is comfortable with a tray and litter do not swap and change.

  • Provide enrichment within the house. Providing plenty of toys, interactive feeders and scratching areas enables the cat to express natural behaviours – reducing their stress.

  • Reduce stress. Calming sprays such as Beaphar Calming Spray can help to reduce anxiety in cats. Calming products and treats such as Beaphar Calming Tablets, Beaphar Calming Spot On and True Hemp Calming treats can also offer benefits in reducing stress and anxiety.

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk.