How to Treat a Cat's Bladder Infection

By Betty Lewis

In and out. In and out. In and out. It's not your cat keeping you on your toes as you open and close the front door for her, it's her litter box activity. If you notice your kitty making frequent, seemingly pointless trips to her litter box, pay attention: She may have a bladder infection. Treatment depends on the cause, but keeping her hydrated -- and urinating -- is good for her urinary health.

The Signs of Cystitis

When your cat's bladder is inflamed or infected, she has cystitis, one of the conditions of feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD. It's often hard to pin down the cause of cystitis in a cat, though sometimes bacteria around her bottom may move into her urethra and travel to her bladder, causing infection. Besides frequent urination, other symptoms of a bladder infection include cloudy or foul-smelling urine, blood in the urine, urinating outside the litter box, painful urination and excessive licking around the genital area.

Reading Urine for Clues

Bladder infections are painful; they require veterinary treatment. Your vet will run tests including a urinalysis and a bacterial culture of your cat's urine. The urinalysis confirms the presence of blood cells and bacteria in the urine, while the culture identifies the type of bacteria. If this isn't a one-time thing with your cat, the vet will likely want to look at an ultrasound or an X-ray to determine if her troubles are caused by calculi in her bladder. Stress isn't typically a cause of bladder infection, though it can contribute to it from a depressed immune system.

Take All Your Medicine

When the vet determines what type of bacteria is at fault, he'll prescribe antibiotics for your cat, usually for two weeks. A cat often shows improvement within a week. It's important to keep to the medication schedule prescribed by your vet to ensure the bacteria are gone for good. Water intake is important for treating a cat's bladder infection; plenty of water will keep her urinating regularly and her bladder cleaned out.

No Repeats, Please

After your cat recovers from her infection, you can make some adjustments to minimize the chance she has a repeat occurrence. If she has long hair, keep her back end trimmed and clean to decrease the possibility of bacteria migrating into her urinary tract. Do what you can to encourage her to drink water; some cats love to drink from a running faucet while others enjoy a bubbling water fountain that keeps their water fresh, clean and more appealing. Consider making canned food less of a treat and more of a dietary staple. Containing a moisture content between 70 percent and 80 percent compared to kibble's 10 percent, canned food can help keep your cat hydrated. If you think your kitty may be feeling stressed from some life changes -- perhaps she's had a hard time adapting to a change in the house -- consider using something such as a pheromone spray that will help soothe her. A holistic veterinarian may be able to recommend natural supplements to reduce inflammation in your kitty's bladder.