Urinary Tract Infection in Cats

Tabby cat all wrapped up in a blanket

Created: 6/8/2021 Updated: 2/16/2024 - Shelley Simmons

Health & Wellbeing

Urinary tract infections can be less common in cats as they are more likely to suffer with urinary tract disorders. Generally, a UTI occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra and into the bladder. Some animals can develop bladder stones in conjunction with a UTI.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a term used to describe disorders that can cause issues with the bladder and the urethra.

Cat outside looking up at the sky

Symptoms of a UTI or FLUTD 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

  • Behaviour changes

  • Over grooming

Straining or 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 of FLUTD in cats

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.

  • Obesity

  • Anatomical abnormalities

Ginger cat cleaning itself

Nutrition for cats with FLUTD

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

Cats who have been diagnosed with any form of crystals, stones or any blockage should follow Veterinary advice on the most appropriate diet. They will require a clinical diet to help dissolve or prevent crystals from forming.

Obesity and FLUTD

Cats who need to lose weight but have no crystals or stones may be required to lose weight to reduce chances of recurring FLUTD issues. OSCAR Neutered diet is lower in calories, higher in protein and contains specific mineral and trace elemnets with added cranberry to promote urinary health and may be suitable for your cat.

Stress and FLUTD

Cats who have developed certain FLUTD issues that don’t require a clinical diet may also benefit from OSCAR Neutered Cat Or Oscar Senior Rich in Chicken with Turkey as they contain specific mineral and trace elemnets with added cranberry to promote urinary health.

Increasing water intake

  • Make sure a fresh clean supply of water is always available, you can encourage an increase in drinking by trying different bowls and fountains.

  • You can slightly flavour water (chicken or tuna) to encourage drinking.

  • Add water to the food to increase intake or add wet food if feeding a dry diet.

Always discuss suitable diets with your Veterinary Practice.

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. Provide water in a safe and secure place away from other resources.

  • 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, and Beaphar Calming Spot On 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.