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What are Urinary Tract Infections?

Sometimes, urinary tract conditions can be associated with other diseases, including chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. However, in many cases, there doesn’t seem to be an underlying cause at all – in this case, the technical diagnosis would be “feline idiopathic cystitis” (FIC).

Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, is the umbrella term for urinary tract conditions in cats.  A feline urinary tract infection (UTI) is typically characterized by painful and difficult urination. Urinary tract infections in cats can range from severe to fatal, so it is important that you consult a vet right away if you suspect your cat is suffering from a UTI.

Urinary Tract Infections Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Cats are notorious for hiding their symptoms from their owners. But if you suspect your cat may have a UTI, it is imperative that you don’t ignore it. If your cat is exhibiting any these symptoms, consult a vet immediately. An ignored UTI can lead to a urethral blockage, which can be fatal.

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Yowling while urinating
  • Frequent grooming of the genitals
  • Excessive urinating with little or no urine
  • Swollen penis
  • Gritty particles on the penis
  • Bloody urine
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Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

The cause of UTI in cats can be difficult to pinpoint, particularly if the cat does not suffer from any type of bladder or kidney disease. This means that the bladder is inflamed, but there is no easily identifiable reason as to why. About 65% of cats who suffer from UTI and other urinary tract conditions are diagnosed with FIC.

Despite that, there are suspected causes of FIC:

  • Defects in the lining of the bladder
  • Inflammation of neurogenic structures in the bladder wall
  • Stress levels and abnormal reactions to stress

However, urinary tract infections in cats are often associated with other diseases of the bladder:

  • Urolithiasis: stones present in the bladder
  • Urethral obstruction: blockage of the urethra in male cats-- a severe condition

  • Bacterial infections: typically uncommon, usually prevalent in older cats
  • Neoplasia: tumor present in the bladder or urethra
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Diagnosis of Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Cystocentesis

Your vet may collect a sample of your cat’s urine by taking a urine culture. This is called cystocentesis. This process will involve inserting a needle directly into the bladder to collect an uncontaminated sample of urine. In order to reach an accurate diagnosis, the urine must be free from contaminants found in the environment.

The urine will then be placed in a lab and left for 48 hours in order for the cultures to grow. This way, the vet can see the specific type of bacteria present in your cat’s urine, which will aid with diagnosis and treatment.

Basic Urinalysis

The urinalysis will reveal the amount of blood present in the urine, as well as the urine’s pH balance, glucose, and protein levels. The vet will then analyze the urine using a microscope, looking for bacteria and uroliths, or stones in the urinary tract.

X-Ray

Your vet may perform an X-Ray on your cat in addition to the urine culture and urinalysis. Any crystals or stones in the bladder will show up on an X-Ray.

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Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

The most important part of treating a UTI is increasing your cat’s water intake. For general cases of FLUTD, treatment will vary based on the cause of the infection.

Urolithiasis

Surgery is often required to remove stones from the bladder. A change in diet may help dissolve certain types of bladder stones. If this is possible, your vet will prescribe a special diet that will help break up the stones and keep them from coming back.

Urethral Plugs

Urethral plugs must be removed right away, as they can cause kidney failure in as little as 2-3 days. In this case, your cat will be administered anesthetic and the vet will remove the blockage. This procedure will be painful and will make urination even more difficult, so your cat may be kept overnight or even for a few days.  Serious cases may require a catheter or the use of intravenous fluids. Your vet may also prescribe painkillers and a special diet to help prevent blockages from coming back.

Bacterial Infection

This type of infection, which is rare in cats, usually clears up easily with the use of antibiotics or other antibacterial drugs. The vet will determine which type of drug to prescribe based on the type of bacteria present in the urine.

Neoplasia (Tumors)

Unfortunately, by the time symptoms start to appear, neoplasia will likely already be at an advanced stage, making removal of the tumor impossible. Fortunately, though, this disease is quite rare in cats, and usually affects older cats. Chemotherapy treatment can help manage the tumor’s size. Your vet may also prescribe NSAID pain relievers, which can reduce tumor inflammation and help fight the cancer. 

FIC

Drugs may not help much when it comes to treating FIC. The primary way to relieve symptoms of FIC is by increasing your cat’s water intake. Switch dry food to wet, canned food. You will also want to ensure that your cat is not under high amounts of stress.

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Recovery of Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Your cat’s recovery will depend on the underlying cause of the infection. Generally, cats will start to show improvement within 2-3 days of treatment, if the case is not serious.

Always follow your vet’s treatment instructions. Be sure to provide clean water at all times. Encourage drinking where you can and ensure that litter boxes are clean. This can help reduce your cat’s stress and may speed up recovery.

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Urinary Tract Infections Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Urinary Tract Infections Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Boomer

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American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Abdomen Pain
Fever

My 3 year old cat started acting lethargic, refused to eat or drink, had a fever, and was being extra careful walking and jumping. We took him to the vet and he has a UTI. He was given a shot of long acting antibiotic, an nsaid, and sent us home with two more nsaids for the next two days. She said he should be back to normal today, however, he is still acting like he doesn’t feel good and has been hiding under the kitchen sink all day. Should we be worried or give the medicine more time to work?

Sept. 24, 2018

Boomer's Owner

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Sooty

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Domestic cat

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16 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Head Tremors

Cat has urinary tract infection and vet gave intravenous antibiotics and 10 days later did a culture which showed the infection had gone. The vet wants to do another urine culture in 10 days time. Just wondering why another culture is necessary.

Sept. 12, 2018

Sooty's Owner

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Cali

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Calico

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Frequent Urination

My cat seemed to have a UTI. I brought her in the Dr. couldn’t take a urine sample but gave her amoxicillin. She’s been on it for three days but is still peeing little quarter sized pees. She doesn’t seem to be in pain. But she does go in the box frequent but not as frequent. Should I take her back in for tests after the medication is finished or should I take her back in tomorrow? I don’t want the medicine to mess up testing?

Sept. 5, 2018

Cali's Owner

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Ajax

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pinkish Urine

My cat is about 8 years old and in the last 1.5 years she keeps developing UTIs. I have taken her to the vet multiple times and they give her antibiotics and pain relief which helps but a few months pass and it comes back again. She has a pinkish urine and strains to pee/takes a long time but she is peeing which is a relief it’s not blocked. We got a few extra tests done last time and everything was quite normal so I don’t know why she keeps developing them. She does live with 2 Male cats but she seems to keep to herself most of time. Do you think they could be causing her stress. I’ve tried different diets aswell, always comes back. Is there any else I can do to prevent her from getting them. I hate seeing her in pain.

Sept. 4, 2018

Ajax's Owner

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Cinnamon Bun (CB)

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domestic short hair

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anxious
Little Elimination
Eliminating Outside Of Litter Box
Frequent Trips To Litter Box
Enflamed Bladder

My cat CB (female) started to use the litter box more and more frequently, with little urination. Looking back now, I realize this coincided with a switch in food (Iams to Halo). She eats BW wet food alongside this. She developed what my previous vet diagnosed as a UTI not long after this, just after moving several states to stay with my father for a month while I left the country. Vet gave me antibiotics (mixed wrong), which they rectified a week later, but it seemed like she had developed a habit of cycling to each litter box—this time urinating a normal (or what I thought was normal) amount. I’m in the process of moving, and between houses, we are staying at my father’s again. She seems to have developed another UTI, and is again peeing very little in the litter box, as well as outside of it. A new vet gave her antibiotics and a steroid (both injections), and nothing has changed in a little over a week. I’ve also switched her food again to Hill’s Science Diet UTI as of four days ago. I’m not sure what to do. The next step is to go to the vet again to do a urine sample for crystals, but I’m also hoping this food will eliminate or at least lessen the formation of these potential crystals. All in all, she’s a happy cat. She doesn’t yowl, there is no blood in the urine, just small amounts and often outside of the litter box. She plays, purrs, and is internally motivated so playing *with* her is sometimes less rewarding that giving her the means to entertain herself. She was an adopted stray very young and seems to be far more nervous than her littermate, BB, who has experienced no health issues outside of a tapeworm once. I’m worried this is just a high anxiety cat that won’t improve, or that she is simply choosing to eliminate wherever she pleases, with or without the litter box. I don’t want to remove her, as she is bonded with BB, and for fear that whoever takes her will return her given her urinary issues, or worse that she will be euthanized. I’m desperate for answers.

Aug. 30, 2018

Cinnamon Bun (CB)'s Owner

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Aubry

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Maine Coon

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My 7 year old female barn cat has had blood in her urine for a few months. About 6 weeks ago her appetite declined. We have had her urine tested and the vet put her on an antibiotic, but it didn't clear up the blood. He put her on a second, more powerful antibiotic and it did help for about a week, but the blood has returned. Her appetite is now good and she acts fine, but the blood is still there. Her urine looks like red wine. The vet also did a culture and sensitivity test on my cat's urine (needle into the bladder) and the culture was negative. The blood is still in her urine. Xrays show no bladder stones. The vet says an ultrasound would be the next option, but that it is possible that even that test will not show anything. My understand that some things just can't be explained, but I want to be sure I am doing all I can for her. She is a great barn cat. What would you suggest?

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Brie Brie

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Grey Tiger

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Licking At Genitals
Not Drinking
Peeing Outside Box

I took my cat in for a uti a week ago, the vet gave her a 2 week antibiotic...she is still peeing outside of box but doesn’t seem as frequent... doesn’t seem to be drinking as much as before antibiotics....we are leaving on vacation early Thursday morning for a week... should I take her in one more time tomorrow or can we wait until next week when we get back?

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Simon

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American Short Hair

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Urinating
Difficulty Urinating,Drops Only

Simon is a neutered 8 yr old cat. He had a UTI+crystals upon UA.We took him to the Vet.got antibiotic inj.and pain meds buprenorphine and now on prescription diet. He is playful however has been peeing outside litter box as earlier. His blood in urine has resolved but content of urine is still in drops. frequency has reduced.Today is third day.Should we be worried about blockage still? Thanks

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Rosie

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Brown tabby

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Marking Furniture

My cat Rosie comes in my room and starts kicking around the bed backwards like dogs do and I didn't like that got her off the bed and the 2nd time she pissed on my bed I took the blanket off asap kept her out of the room then 10 mins later she peed on my ottoman and several spots on my chair and I'm blown by this and I am deaf and no transportation and everything is 2 hours away I don't know what to make of this and worried it could be UTI she is over weight and have a friend bringing a kitten to the house and plays with me I'm not sure if it's stress or anger or UTII'm stuck ans freaking out now

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Abby

dog-breed-icon

Himalayan

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Can'T Urinate
Can'T Urinate Blood In Urine

I have an 8 year old female himalayan. Last year she had UTI and again this year she has it again. She is an indoor cat only. I dont know why she keeps having these? Took her to urgent care they took xray nothing abnormal was found. Giving her metronidazole and also waiting on pain med. I feel so bad for her.

Urinary Tract Infections Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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