Cat urinary tract infections: what they are and how to treat them

Cats can suffer from urinary tract infections: but how do they develop and is there a way to avoid them? Here’s what to do to treat and prevent them.

Unfortunately, the cat can often be the victim of infections that affect the urinary tract: they are indicated by a single abbreviation, FLUTD, or diseases of the lower urinary tract of the cat. We will see the symptoms and how they manifest themselves, what are the possible triggering causes and what are the remedies that can be adopted when a cat is affected by these pathologies.

The urinary tract of the cat: what they are

The part of the cat’s body that has the function of eliminating water and all waste products is that of the urinary tract. The engine of this section of the body are the two kidneys, which have the task of filtering and purifying the blood. The water to be expelled passes through the kidneys, also called ureters, and reaches the bladder, which collects urine. When the fluid is expelled the bladder contracts and empties, and the water from the urethra flows out of the body.

The urinary tract is subject to three major infections, which almost all have the same symptoms. Unfortunately they are very common in felines and certainly annoying: this high percentage of possibility of developing these infections is due to the fact that felines, unlike dogs, drink little water and therefore their urine is more concentrated.

The three aforementioned diseases affecting the urinary tract are: urolithiasis or urinary stones, nephritis or inflation of the kidneys and cystitis or inflammation of the bladder. Since the symptoms are almost the same, it will be up to the veterinarian to understand which infection it is through a precise diagnosis, which we will mention later.

Urinary tract infections in cats: most common causes

Bacteria can easily attack the urinary tract and defeat them once it does not absolutely avert a possible next attack. Over time, crystals may develop in the bladder, i.e. sand and stones that irritate it and compromise its normal function. It is a painful pathology for all cats and, at times, lethal for the males of the species: the reason is that since their urethra is narrower, it can easily become completely blocked due to the crystals. But here are the main reasons for the occurrence of these infections in cats.

Stress in cats

A nervous and stressed cat can have problems with the urinary tract and in particular develop stones: if we exclude the nutrition and hydration factor, the cause that remains is precisely the nervous one. Any change, even a move with a cat or a trip or even the arrival of a newborn in the family, can irritate and stress our four-legged friend: they do not like changes and they have negative effects on their immune system. How to resolve the situation if the cause is stress? Simply paying attention to his behavior: we avoid stressing him with too many caresses, and let’s put him in a state of total tranquility. For example, we place the litter box where he wants (often he prefers the open ones), so that he feels safe and without pressure.

Age of the cat

An older cat is more likely to develop urinary tract infections: this is because the normal functioning of the liver and bladder changes with age. Cats over 7 years of age are at greater risk than a younger cat. The latter in fact generally produces a more concentrated urine, which acts as a natural disinfectant against bacteria.

If we see traces of blood in the urine of a young cat it is likely that the problem is due to stones, which irritate the walls of the bladder. Older cats, on the other hand, produce less concentrated urine, a sign of poor kidney function. This therefore favors bacterial proliferation of the urinary tract. The important thing is to fix the problem before the bacteria reach the kidneys.

Hydration of the cat

It is important for the feline to drink a lot so that the water dilutes the urine and makes the waste and chemicals produced by the bacteria less aggressive. Diluting the urine and drinking a lot prevents irritation of the bladder walls and reduces the risk of inflammation and dryness. Drinking from different bowls, with low sides, will stimulate him to drink, or let him have a small fountain available if he prefers running water. If you don’t like tap water, you will be forced to buy bottled mineral water.

Feeding the cat

Its diet must also be balanced and balanced: in fact, it can be used as an additional means of supplying liquids to the feline. Better to switch from dry to wet food. In its diet it is also good to insert currant tablets or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to make the urine more acidic. The tablets should be administered in 250 mg tablets 2 times a day, while the vitamin C in 250 mg tablets 1 time a day: but before proceeding we always ask our veterinarian for advice.

Cat urinary tract infections: what they are

The infections that afflict the cat’s urinary tract are very painful and annoying and, if not caught in time, can have serious consequences. Here are the main infections and how to recognize them based on their symptoms.


It is an inflammation of the kidneys and can be caused by a bacterial infection of the bloodstream. It can spread from the gums after trauma or injury caused by direct contact with other cats. Even infection can travel back from the bladder to the kidneys.

Symptoms of Nephritis

The signs to watch out for are: when the cat drinks too much, is exhausted and has a fever, it loses weight and consequently appears sluggish and inappetent.


When it comes to inflammation of the bladder, it is called cystitis and is the most serious pathology among the FLUTDs. Bacteria often do not cause cystitis, but it is the crystals in the urine and bladder stones that cause this infection. Stress is also a major factor in the onset of cystitis. And when it is not possible to establish a cause, we speak of idiopathic cystitis.

Symptoms of cystitis

They are: difficulty and pain in urinating. The cat twitches its snout and meows as if to cry, refuses to use its litter box and is frightened at the very idea of ​​using it. It can become a recurring problem, so it’s best to talk to your vet right away. Or on the contrary, the cat can urinate a lot and often, there may be traces of blood in the urine and the cat may not use the litter box. If the cat tries hard but only a few drops of urine come out, he could suffer from a blockage of the urinary tract, very dangerous and to be checked immediately.

Stones in the urinary tract

In struvite, stones form under alkaline conditions, but there are others that proliferate under acidic conditions, such as oxalate. In particular, Burmese are at greater risk of developing this type of stone. When harmful substances are present in the urine, the bladder defends itself by protecting its walls with a sort of mucus that acts as a protective film. In the presence of an infection this glycosaminoglycan layer becomes thinner and the walls consequently more exposed to risks. When a cat suffers from a urinary tract infection, the layer becomes thinner, thus exposing the bladder walls to possible irritation.

To enrich this layer and maintain it often, there are over-the -counter medicines on the market that contain glucosamine and tryptophan in capsules. They are also used to treat arthritis in dogs, but have bladder inflammation among the effects.

Diagnosis of urinary tract infections

In a first phase the veterinarian will proceed with the urinalysis to exclude the presence of crystals, blood or bacteria. They will be conducted with particular strips that analyze the pH of the liquid: if the pH is too basic there is a risk of sand and stones. A bacteriological test will help the veterinarian understand what type of bacterium it is and which are the most suitable antibiotics to treat it.

If the analysis does not give satisfactory results, it will be appropriate to proceed with blood tests, which help to check the functionality of the kidneys, or an Echo and Radio of the bladder: the latter will confirm the presence of stones.

Treatment of urinary tract infections

The objective of the treatment, following the analyzes, will be to eliminate the bacteria. To make them disappear completely, it will be necessary to modify the diet to change the pH and chemical composition of the urine. Surgery may be required to remove the crystals in the urethra. In the most important cases it is the case of adopting an antibiotic remedy, naturally on medical prescription.

Warning: it is important to complete the antibiotic course completely. if the infection is only partially cured, there is a risk of eliminating the symptoms but not the bacteria which, still present, can cause a long-term infection and put the cat’s health at risk.

The antibiotics chosen are penicillins, such as amoxicillin, clavulinic acid, cephalosporin or sulfonamide. To regulate the cat’s urination, spasmolytic medicines are often recommended. Excellent results can already be achieved by replacing dry food with moist foods, which help hydrate the cat. Let’s not forget that the cat likes to drink little from the bowl so it will be able to take liquids substantially from the food it eats.

How to prevent cat urinary tract infections

To stimulate the cat to urinate it is necessary to make sure that the place where the litter box is placed is to his liking. It must be easily accessible, well cleaned and tidy otherwise the cat may refuse to use it, especially if there are other cats in the house who use it. In fact, it is advisable to always have an extra litter and bowl at home compared to the number of animals living together. Make fresh water available to the animal and use wet food.

Be careful that our cat does not lead a too sedentary life: let’s spend more time with him and stimulate him to do physical activity. In this way, the risk of obesity is also avoided: our cats, unlike their ancestors, have developed a great laziness and sedentary lifestyle that led them to eat more, with less effort in getting food and doing little movement.

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