Symptoms and Treatment of Bladder Infections in Cats

A bladder infection is unpleasant and uncomfortable in humans, and it's just as bad for a cat. The worst part about trying to fight an infection like this in your pet is that they can't tell you what's wrong! It can take some examining by a veterinarian to figure out what the problem is, but once you figure out the symptoms and treatment of bladder infections in cats your cat can start to feel better.

Little Siberian Breed Cat Sitting in Litter Box
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Feline UTI

A feline urinary tract infection, or UTI, is fairly uncommon, says VCA Hospitals. A feline UTI can be caused by bacteria that migrates up the urethra. Some cats will develop bladder stones, with or without a UTI. An infection of the lower urinary tract is called FLUTD, or feline lower urinary tract disease. Hills Pet says that FLUTD in cats is one of the most common reasons cats are taken to the vet.

Changes in urination

Cats with a bladder infection may have obvious trouble releasing their urine. They may go pee in the bathtub rather than the litter box, because the tub is cold and smooth. They may spray the wall, or they may go in your basket of clean laundry.

One of the first signs that something might be wrong with your pet is that she is not urinating in her usual way. Hills Pet says that she may stop using the litter box altogether. When this happens, it's obviously a problem as you might find them going to the bathroom in places where they shouldn't! Of course, she may just not like her litter box, but there's also a good chance that it's a sign of an infection.

Symptoms of feline UTI

VCA Hospitals says you may see your cat squatting to pee several times with nothing coming out. They may cry out in distress when going, or you may see blood in their urine. You may also notice that they are licking their genitals more than usual.

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If a cat has an obstruction in their urethra, like a stone that has not passed, they may have similar symptoms. If there is a blockage, little to no urine will come out and they will show signs of distress. But in this case it is not an infection.This type of obstruction is more common in male cats than females and it is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary treatment.

Diagnosing bladder infection in cats

The American Veterinary Medical Association says that it can be difficult to diagnose a FLUTD or bladder infection. Describing your cat's symptoms should prompt your vet to do a physical examination. They may run a test on the urine to check the pH balance and look for a concentration of crystals.

Causes of urinary infections

The Doc & Phoebe's veterinary blog says that feline UTIs can happen to any cat, whether they are male or female. Typically though, cats that are middle-aged, neutered, overweight, are not very active, and typically don't go outside are the ones most prone to these types of infections. In approximately 60% to 70% of cats with FLUTD, a specific cause for the UTI can not be identified.

If a cause can't be found, the infection is said to be idiopathic and it's called feline idiopathic cystitis or FIC. While FIC is very common, bacterial bladder infections in cats are relatively rare. Doc & Phoebe says in younger cats only 1% to 3% of feline UTIs are caused by bacteria. When a cat reaches more than 10 years of age, that number grows to around 10%.

Stress can also be a cause of UTIs in cats. If you have recently brought a new pet into the household or moved to a new house, this could stress your cat out. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that having more than one cat in the household or having a routine that abruptly changes may also increase the risk that a cat will develop FLUTD.

Tabby cat sitting in a litter box and look to the camera.
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Treating bladder infections in cats

The Merck Veterinary Manual says that a feline UTI that is not treated can result in lower urinary tract dysfunction, urolithiasis (bladder stones), prostatitis (inflamed prostate gland), infertility, septicemia (blood infection), and pyelonephritis (infected kidneys) with scarring and eventual kidney failure. Treatment usually involves some kind of antibiotic.