Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Urinary Tract Infections in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Urinary Tract Infections in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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 mild to fatal, so it is important that you consult a vet right away if you suspect your cat is suffering from a UTI.

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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 , 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 may be sent to a lab to allow for 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

One 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 sometimes 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. Because your cat will have a urinary catheter after this procedure, your cat will be kept overnight or even for a few days.  Your vet may prescribe painkillers and a special diet to help prevent blockages from coming back.

Bacterial Infection

This type of infection, typically clears up easily with the use of antibiotics. 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 might help manage the tumor’s size. Your vet may also prescribe NSAID pain relievers, which can reduce tumor inflammation. 

FIC

There are many options when it comes to treating FIC. One 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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Worried about the cost of Urinary Tract Infections treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

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.

Urinary tract infections can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your cat has a urinary tract infection or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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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

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Domestic cat

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Twelve Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Wobbly Rear Gait

She seems to have weakness in back legs and walls sort of bow legged

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Cats can develop bone and joint disease as they age, and It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 19, 2020

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Boomer

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American Shorthair

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3 Years

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9 found helpful

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9 found helpful

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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Urinary Tract Infections Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$500

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