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What is Bacterial Kidney Infection?

Infections of the urinary system in cats are most often the result of bacteria entering the body. Bacteria usually enter the cat’s body through the urethra and then travel to the bladder. In some cases, the bacteria causes infection in the bladder, known as Bacterial Cystitis. The infection can move on to the kidneys and cause infection there, known as pyelonephritis. Factors that increase the risk of a urinary infection include problems with urine flow, sugar in the urine, advanced age, overly dilute urine, a compromised immune system, or comorbidity of other diseases. As cats age, kidney concerns become more common.

Bacterial Kidney Infection Average Cost

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Symptoms of Bacterial Kidney Infection in Cats

In many cases, a cat does not exhibit symptoms until the infection is advanced. The greatest risk factor for kidney infection in your cat is that your cat will experience  kidney failure. A change in your cat’s urination habits may be a red flag for some type of kidney problem. If your cat seems to be spending too much time in the litter box or has urine accidents outside of the litter box, a urinary tract infection may be to blame. Symptoms to be aware of include: 

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive urination or difficulty urinating 
  • Blood in urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Discolored Urine
  • Abdominal or lower back pain
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Causes of Bacterial Kidney Infection in Cats

Your veterinarian may not be able to pinpoint a specific cause of your cat’s kidney bacterial infection. In general, elderly cats and very young kittens are the most susceptible due to weakened or compromised immune systems. Other causes of pyelonephritis may include:

  • Stones in the kidney or ureter that prevent urine from flowing normally
  • Birth defects in young kittens, such as ectopic ureter (ureter bypasses the bladder and enters the urethra from outside the bladder wall)
  • Ureteral movement
  • A restriction in the blood supply to the kidneys or flap valves between the kidneys and ureter
  • An infection in the blood that spreads into the urinary tract/kidneys
  • Blockages in the urinary tract can cause sepsis (bacterial infection of the blood) or urosepsis (infection of blood from decomposed urine being forced into blood stream)
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Diagnosis of Bacterial Kidney Infection in Cats

Pyelonephritis is hard to diagnose and difficult to treat. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination and run a series of blood tests to diagnose the bacterial infection. The blood work will include a chemical profile and blood count as well as testing levels of potassium and phosphorus. Urine tests will also be run and will include urinalysis, bacterial culture testing and an electrolyte panel. In severe cases, contrast x-rays or ultrasound may be required. Other procedures in severe cases may include urine cultures obtained from the renal pelvis of your cat or a renal biopsy as a last resort. If your cat has kidney stones, an incision into the kidney may be needed to acquire some of the mineral content of the stone for analysis.

Be prepared to share with your veterinarian the symptoms you have observed and approximately how long that you have noticed the symptoms. Do not delay contacting your veterinarian as the bacterial infection can lead to kidney failure if not promptly treated. A bacterial kidney infection can cause permanent damage or can be fatal without proper treatment.

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Treatment of Bacterial Kidney Infection in Cats

Bacterial infections of the urinary tract need to be properly treated. Your cat can develop a resistance to antibiotics which can lead to infection that cannot be cleared up. Untreated bacterial infections in the bladder can lead to the more serious condition of kidney infection.

Treatment of kidney bacterial infection in your cat usually requires a long term antibiotic regime for four to six weeks. If you cat has become dehydrated, IV fluids may be required. Surgery may be required is there is an obstruction in the urinary tract. If your cat has kidney stones, they may need to be surgically removed or dissolved through shockwave treatments. Kidney stones can sometimes be alleviated through diet.

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Recovery of Bacterial Kidney Infection in Cats

Full recovery of kidney function is possible, depending on the amount of damage to the kidneys. Your veterinarian will perform follow-up urinalysis and cultures after treatment has begun and at the end of the antibiotic regimen. A special diet that is low in protein and low in phosphorus may be recommended. Due to the frequent occurrence of kidney problems in older cats, regular blood and urine screenings are recommended after your cat reaches 7 years of age. 

Be sure to administer medications as prescribed by your veterinarian and keep all follow-up appointments. Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian with any questions or concerns. Call your veterinarian’s office if your cat does not appear to be responding to the treatment, continues to be lethargic or is not eating or drinking. 

For home management, provide multiple litter boxes in your home. A rule of thumb is one more litter box than the number of cats you have in your home. Encourage your cat to drink water and provide water sources throughout your home. Giving your cat canned food can increase his water intake. Prescription diet food may contain essential fatty acids and antioxidants to help maintain a healthy urinary tract.

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Bacterial Kidney Infection Average Cost

From 540 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,200

Average Cost

$400

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Bacterial Kidney Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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Emrys

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Straining To Urinate

Hi! My cat was diagnosed with a UTI on Monday and we were sent home with antibiotics and muscle relaxers. He initially seemed to be getting better with little to know straining. He has had 5 doses of both the antibiotic and muscle relaxers but he seems to be dping worse (more painful sounding meows, increased frequency again to LB with only tiny droplets,). Do i take him back in or wait one more day for his antibiotics to kick in?

May 17, 2018

Emrys' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Urinary infections in lame cats can cause urinary blockages, unfortunately. If Emrys is straining to urinate, crying, and passing only small amounts of urine, this is an emergency, and he should be seen right away to make sure that he is not experiencing a blockage. I hope that he is okay.

May 17, 2018

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Waffles

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American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

20 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Urinary Tract Infection

I took my (elderly) cat to the emergency vet 8 days ago because she was seeming thinner, straining to pee (and frequently), some of the urine was red-tinged, she was excessively grooming her genitals, and was meowing a lot. They did a urinalysis and the next day (~24 hours later), they confirmed it was a UTI, prescribed clavamox, and ordered a culture to make sure clavamox was the correct antibiotic. She's now 1/2 done with 2 weeks of antibiotics and seems to be doing better - no more straining to pee frequently, no more peeing in inappropriate places, and she even seems to have put on a little weight. Her behaviors even seem better. But it turns out the lab never did the culture. Is there any reason to do it now, when we'd get the results back when she's almost done with the two week antibiotic course, or is it better to just wait to the end to do another urinalysis to see if that cleared it up? Also, they never did blood work to see if it went to her kidneys, but if it did, would the urinalysis at the end still show signs of an infection or is a metabolic panel still necessary because the infection is no longer in her urinary tract?

May 14, 2018

Waffles' Owner

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0 Recommendations

At this point, it may be worth waiting for the course of antibiotics to end and then doing urinalysis to see if there are any signs of infection; improvement is a good sign, but we still see improvement in cases where the infection is only suppressed but not cured. Given Waffles age, I would finish this course of antibiotics and then revisit your Veterinarian for another urinalysis and if there is still an infection proceed with the culture and sensitivity testing. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 15, 2018

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Bill

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tabby

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10 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Urinating Outside Litterbox

why is My kitten of 10months old who is getting over a kidney infection is not using litterbox that is clean Litterbox. It wants to use the floor outside his box. He has had a kidney infection and on an antibiotic for 21 days. Has been seen by my vet 2 times. It has lose stool and urineates on the floor

April 28, 2018

Bill's Owner


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1 Recommendations

Urinating outside of the litter tray may be a behavioural issue and not an actual medical issue; it is possible that Bill is associating the litter tray with pain or discomfort so is reluctant to use the litter tray. You should place him in the tray when he tries to urinate to try to get him to learn to do it there. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 29, 2018

Bill will not drink water out of a water bowl that is attached to his food bowl. He will drink out of a separate bowl though. Why does he do that behavior?

April 29, 2018

Bill's Owner

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Paulina

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Brown tabby cat

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12 Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My cat Paulina has been peeing blood, not eating, and she has lost a ton of weight. She used to drink tons of water but now she just hangs her head over the bowl and doesn't drink any at all. We took her to the vet and they did a blood test and perscribed some medicine. After a few days they determined she had a kidney infection. Paulina is 12 years old, and the treatment is said to be around $800 and we have already payed $500 to find out what it was and for some medication. The vet recommends that we choose either the treatment or to put her down because she is in pain ... what do you think would be the best option? I really want to treat her but because she is old we are debating if it is worth it

Jan. 6, 2018

Paulina's Owner


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0 Recommendations

This is a decision which you need to make yourself, I haven’t examined Paulina so I cannot determine the severity of her condition; your Veterinarian would have given you are options and you need to make a decision based on how you feel about it and what you feel (more importantly) is best for Paulina. These decisions are never easy, but you should discuss with your Veterinarian about their opinion on quality of life after treatment or if based on Paulina’s condition further treatment is required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 7, 2018

I'm experiencing this same thing now and I literally saved her life here at home. I ordered amoxicillin for fish and started her on those 2x day. but most importantly I saved her life by having a little dropper like with baby medicine and fed her chicken soup broth several times daily,as well as water forcefully if need be. but that's not all. I also did this with pedia lite for babies to keep them hydrated. I also bought cranberry tablets that I melted and mashed up with water and also have her some of that 2x a day too. it's takes lots of time, I mean lots but it's worth saving your kitties life without going to a vet or if you can't afford it. I saved her from death by doing this and 3 weeks later she jumping around and playing again now. also offer as much wet food and tuna often till they begin to eat. it took my baby 6 days till she would eat again, she lost all her weight and lots of hair. but they can be saved at home if you are dedicated and have the time to do it.

April 22, 2018

Sarah M.


Also she has been perscribed tramadol and zeniquin

Jan. 6, 2018

Paulina's Owner

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Nicholas

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American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

19 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

My cat has recently been diagnosed with Kidney disease and was doing good on a supplement my vet prescribed. Then in the last month he got a very dark red coloring near his nipple area and between the pads of his feet and would swell up in different parts of his body. He even had some patches that looked dark purple in color. He's quiet and doesnt like to move around too much. His blood tests came back normal and my vet put him on an anti-inflammatory and it lowered the swelling but that's it(been 4 days) He's not in pain and can still jump and walk. I'm stumped...any ideas what it could be?

Nov. 26, 2017

Nicholas' Owner

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0 Recommendations

Four days is still early in the treatment of inflammation and you should give it at least seven or ten days before drawing a conclusion, especially if you are seeing some improvement. The swelling may not be related to the kidney issues and since it is on the lower side of the body may be attributable to an allergen or something Nicholas walked in. I would give the antiinflammatory time to work and see what happens over the next week or so. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 26, 2017

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Kitty

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Crossed

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst
Lack Of Appetite

so my cat had reduced appetite for some time and we took her to the vet. the vet suggested a blood test. The first test her creatinine level was 2. Then i took a second test after 3 days and the level was 4.8. Then i also took a 3rd test where the level was elevated to 9.6 and BUN and SDMA were also abnormally high. She was drinking water. The Vet sugested we do the Sub Q for 3 days twice daily. Her condition is better now. However she had difficulty in eating. I then checked her teeth to find out that she has a huge boil with a decaying tooth. Please tell if this would have triggered the abnormal raise in levels.

dog-name-icon

Boots

dog-breed-icon

American Short Hair

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Vomiting, Diarrhea,

My cat passed away almost two years ago. I never did find out what she had because I had her euthanized. My cat wasn't doing well two to two and a half months of me noticing her losing weight. She would vomit 3 to 4 times a day and the same goes for diaherrea for the final month she was alive. I took her to the vet 3 times during the month. The first time she had an infection and her thyroid was high. So they prescribed meds. The second time I took her the vet her thyroid was good but she still had an infection. Her temperature was good also. The third time I took her to the vet she didn't look so good so the vet quit running tests and basically gave me no choice but to have my cat euthanized. She lost so much weight that I could feel her spine during the last two months of her life. She had blood in her fecal matter too when they ran tests on it the first time I took her to the vet. The meds they gave her the first time made her fecal matter hard and it was black. I also noticed that my cat was constipated 9 to 10 months before she got really sick to the point she had blood in her fecal matter. So the same vet treated her for mega colon without running any tests.

Bacterial Kidney Infection Average Cost

From 540 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,200

Average Cost

$400

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