How To Identify And Treat Feline Urinary Tract Infections
Updated: Jul 10
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are fairly uncommon in cats, but it is important to recognize the symptoms and know when to visit the veterinarian, as this condition could potentially be life-threatening. This article will tell you the signs to look for, common home treatments, and how to prevent recurring infections.
Signs My Cat Might Have a UTI
While most UTIs mean another issue is present, such as feline immunodeficiency virus or diabetes, some cats can experience chronic UTIs without an underlying condition. Here are some common signs your cat may display:
Frequently passing small amounts of urine
Straining to urinate
Blood in urine
Crying out or whining while urinating
Urinating outside litter box
Licking their genitals
Stronger than normal urine odor
How To Treat At Home
At-home remedies are for mild cases of UTIs. If your cat cannot urinate or is crying while urinating, do not try an at-home remedy, and instead take your cat to a veterinarian immediately.
Apple Cider Vinegar- Add ½ teaspoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of chicken broth to your cat’s regular food once a day. The acidity should eliminate bacteria, and most owners report symptoms diminishing within several days.
D-Mannose- Add this sugar into your cat’s canned food for best results. D-Mannose is very effective in treating UTIs; the bacteria that clings to the cat’s urethra and bladder lining instead clings to the D-Mannose, and is peed out along with the urine.
Bone Broth- Bone broth is a great way to guarantee your cat is drinking fluids. The broth will offer hydration as well as nutrients that will help your cat fight the infection.
Supplements- You can buy supplements designed for treating UTIs. Most are formulated to improve kidney and bladder function and prevent the formation of urine crystals.
Are UTIs an Emergency?
In some cases the urethra may get plugged with urinary crystals or stones. This means the cat will not be able to urinate at all; this is a life-threatening situation, and you should take your cat to the veterinarian right away. Felines with large stones may need surgical removal. Cats with obstructions of any kind require immediate hospitalization, possibly for several days depending on the severity of the situation.
How Do Vets Test For a UTI?
Your vet will look at a sample of your cat’s urine under a microscope to look for red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria, and crystals. This will assess the severity of the infection and determine your vet’s next course of action. Sometimes vets will do a culture and sensitivity test, where the vet will take a sample of your cat’s urine to identify the bacteria that’s causing the UTI and then select the antibiotic that will be most effective in treating it.
Veterinarians will often prescribe antibiotics for cats with UTIs. It is essential to complete the entire dose your cat has been prescribed, even if symptoms have decreased or disappeared.
How To Prevent Recurring Infections
Some cats are prone to experience UTIs more than others; male cats, older females, cats with bladder stones, and cats with diabetes mellitus are more likely to develop UTIs. There are nutritional formulas and supplements that can help improve your cat’s urinary tract health and decrease the risk that your cat will get an infection. You can also buy both dry and canned food designed to dilute excess minerals (which can cause stones).
Make sure your cat always has access to clean water and try to maintain a regular feeding schedule. Consider modifying your cat’s diet. Dry food is more likely to contribute to UTIs, so you might try switching to canned food. Wet food provides more protein and moisture to your cat’s diet.
Placing multiple litter boxes around your house will also help. Cats with UTIs need to pee often, and it’s important they have several clean ready-to-use options available.
Reducing stressors in your cat’s environment is also proven to reduce the frequency of feline UTIs. Pay attention to what scares or upsets your cat, and look for ways to reduce or remove the interactions your cat has with the objects/situations. Talk to your veterinarian if your cat is particularly anxious, as they may prescribe anxiety medications.
You can also introduce more play-time with your cat. Felines that aren’t physically active are more likely to experience UTIs than active, fit cats.
It is best to discuss your cat’s bladder health and proper UTI treatment with your veterinarian. Home remedies are useful for mild cases, however urinary tract infections can be a result of more serious issues, so scheduling a vet visit can help make sure your cat is in good health.
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Downing , Robin. “Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Cats .” VCA, 2016, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/urinary-tract-infections-utis-in-cats
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-“Cat Urinary Tract Infections.” Petfinder, 28 Nov. 2016, www.petfinder.com/cats/cat-health/cat-urinary-tract-infections-symptoms-diagnosis-prognosis-and-treatment/.
-Melissa Nelson, DVM. “How to Stop Recurring Urinary Tract Infections in Cats.” WikiHow, WikiHow, 4 Dec. 2019, www.wikihow.com/Stop-Recurring-Urinary-Tract-Infections-in-Cats.