Urinary tract infections are among the most common health conditions that our feline friends can develop. Unfortunately, since cats aren’t the best when it comes to showing symptoms of any disease, pet parents can have a hard time telling if their cats have a UTI or not.
In today’s article, we look at the classic signs that can indicate if your cat has developed a urinary tract infection, what you should do about it, how it is diagnosed and treated, and if there are any home remedies for curing this health problem.
Signs Your Cat May Have a UTI
Difficult and frequent urination
UTIs can have several different causes. Sometimes, they can be caused by a typical bacterial infection as a result of you not being able to change your pet’s litter frequently.
Other times, a UTI can be a secondary symptom of bladder stones. Sharp stones can irritate the mucous membrane on the inside of the urinary bladder and therefore cause an opening for the bacteria that are otherwise normally present in the cat’s urine.
All cats that have a UTI have a difficult time peeing normally. Some cats can be in pain and cry while using the litter box. Others can go and try to use the litter box several times over the span of an hour or two, which should give you a clue that something is wrong.
Since cats don’t drink a lot of water in general, they shouldn’t pee more than 2 or 3 times a day. If you see an increase in the frequency of urination, go to an animal hospital or see your vet, as some UTIs (especially those accompanied by blockages) can be life-threatening.
Blood in the urine
Very small amounts of blood in your cat’s pee might not be so easily noticeable, especially since they can get mixed with the rest of the urine. However, if the health problem is quite severe, the urine will have an intense orange to red colour.
Most UTIs aren’t necessarily associated with hematuria, but if your cat also has bladder stones, bloody urine is going to be a discernible symptom.
Peeing outside the litter box
While this is not a specific symptom of urinary tract infections, it can be quite common in cats that are exhibiting other signs, too.
In pets that are typically happy to use their litter box and that never have ‘accidents’ in your home, you can easily tell that something is wrong if they’ve started to pee outside the litter box.
Naturally, this can also happen if you suddenly change your pet’s litter. Most cats tend to get used to a specific type, and if you switch to an eco-friendly one made of tofu or corn, for example, you will have to mix it gradually into the old one.
Increased grooming of the urinary opening
If they feel pain in that body area, some cats are going to try to soothe themselves by over-grooming their nether region.
This symptom is particularly common in intact male cats that have a UTI as a result of a blockage -- they will try to clean their urinary opening as best as possible. The constant licking can cause secondary issues such as local dermatitis.
General signs of malaise
Cats that have a UTI and that have received no treatment for it are going to be slightly more withdrawn than usual.
They might sleep more if they develop a fever, and they will also prefer cold surfaces such as the porcelain or marble tiles you might have in the kitchen or bathroom. They’ll rest their bellies on the cold floor in an attempt to decrease the higher temperature they have in that body region.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When you bring your cat to the vet for a check-up, if the vet suspects a urinary tract infection, the first test they will perform will be a urinalysis. You might have to collect the urine from the litter box and bring it to the animal hospital for the test.
A urinalysis can provide important information regarding the presence of blood, glucose, protein, ketones, and bilirubin in your cat’s urine.
Also, the vet will recommend an antibiogram so that they can discover the specific antibiotic that the bacteria that has caused the UTI is sensitive to.
The treatment depends on the exact cause of the UTI. If it’s not a complicated health issue that also calls for a procedure such as surgery (for the removal of the bladder stones), your cat will be treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, and supportive therapy (IV fluids).
Are some cats more predisposed to developing UTIs?
Cats that have diabetes, are unneutered, or have a history of bladder stones are those that might suffer from recurring infections of the urinary tract.
Older cats that already have other chronic health problems can easily develop UTIs as a result of a compromised immune system. For this reason, we advise you to take your cat to the vet clinic for at least 2-3 check-ups every year if he/she is older than 6 or 7 years of age.
Are there any home remedies for UTIs in cats?
You might have come across some online sources recommending apple cider vinegar or cranberry juice, but the truth is that cats are extremely difficult when it comes to smells or tastes. The acid in cranberry juice or apple cider vinegar is not going to make any cat want to drink the water you’ve added them to.
However, one of the most important tasks that a pet parent has when it comes to preventing UTIs is to ensure that their cat is properly hydrated..
Many cats prefer pouches instead of dry food, so you can use this information to your advantage and simply change your pet’s diet.
Other cats can do well with bone broth instead of water, especially if you give it to them slightly warm. Bone broth is rich in collagen and omega fatty acids, as well as vitamins (A and K) and minerals (iron, manganese, selenium, or zinc), so not only is it tasty and keeps your cat well hydrated, but also very nutritious.
Plus, few cats refuse drinking bone broth since they are, after all, obligate carnivores, so they enjoy the taste of meat and bone marrow.
Ensuring that your cat drinks enough is a way of ‘flushing out’ any excess bacteria that might have built up in your cat’s bladder.