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September 7, 2022 |0 min read

Can Stress Cause UTIS In Cats?

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Stress in cats can often lead to a number of health concerns, including a urinary tract infection. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (or FLUTD) refers to several  ailments that affect a cat's bladder or urethra, such as bladder stones, urethral blockages, idiopathic cystitis, UTIs, and more.

Read on to learn more about urinary tract issues in cats, as well as how you can prevent them and seek treatment if your cat is showing signs of a potential health problem.

What Are Common Causes of FLUTD and UTIs in Cats?

FLUTD in cats can often be a stress-induced ailment. Stress can wreak havoc on a feline's emotional and physical health, sometimes leading to serious cat health concerns that must be treated right away by a veterinarian. Other common causes for FLUTD in cats may include dehydration, improper diet, or other health conditions such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, congenital defects, and more. Among the most common types of FLUTD is something called feline idiopathic cystitis, or a bladder infection with an unknown cause. This is typically the most common type of FLUTD for cats under the age of 10.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in cats are quite uncommon  compared to other types of FLUTD. A feline UTI is more common in senior cats when bacteria or other infectious entities such as parasites, fungus, or a virus enters the urethra and causes an infection.

With stress being one of the most common causes of a cat urinary tract infection , it's important to look  for common signs indicating your cat might be stressed.

What are the Signs of Stress in Cats?

Familiarizing yourself with your cat's routines and typical behaviors will make it easier to notice when something is amiss. That way, you can take action to help reduce their stress or seek veterinary care when needed. Take notice of changes in your cat's behavior, such as:

  • Changes in litter box habits — Your cat may suddenly visit the litter box more or less frequently than usual, relieve itself outside the litter box, or strain while in the litter box.
  • Changes in appetite — You may notice your cat eating more than usual or refusing to eat altogether.
  • Over-grooming — Your cat may be excessively licking a certain area of its body that could be bothering them. 

What Are the Symptoms of Cat UTIs?

If you suspect your cat may have a UTI, look out for these common symptoms and take your feline friend to the vet as soon as possible:

  • Urinating frequently and in small amounts
  • Excessively licking their abdomen or genital area
  • Signs of pain or difficulty urinating, such as crying or straining in the litter box
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Blood in the urine

Can Changing Kitty Litter Brands Cause a Cat UTI?

Cat owners know that their feline friends can be quite particular regarding  their likes and dislikes. Whether it's the brand of their food, treats, or litter, a sudden change can often be rejected by a picky cat, or even lead to them becoming stressed or anxious over the unexpected change. Since stress can contribute to a UTI for your kitty, it is possible that switching the brand or type of their litter too quickly could lead to negative health effects for your cat.

Because of this, it's typically a good rule of thumb to gradually transition the litter by mixing in the new product with the previous brand your cat is already familiar with over time, until you eventually phase out the old for the new. This gives your cat time to adjust and get used to the new brand slowly, and reduces the chances of the change becoming a stressful event for them.

How to Prevent UTIs in Cats

To ensure your cat's health and well-being, try these methods to help prevent the risk of your cat developing a UTI or another urinary tract issue.

#1: Focus on Stress Reduction for Your Cat

Stress reduction is an important factor for the health of every cat. Make sure necessities like food, water, and litter boxes are easily accessible. Enrich your cat's environment by supplying plenty of toys and puzzles for mental stimulation, as well as window perches and cat trees so they can observe their surroundings from above. Making time in your day to play with your cat and give them plenty of love and attention also goes a long way in helping your cat feel comfortable and less stressed.

#2: Monitor Your Cat's Habits and Behaviors

Knowing what is and isn't normal for your cat's behavior is key to monitoring their general health and noticing abnormal behavior quickly.

Using a product like PrettyLitter can make it even easier to catch abnormalities in your cat's urinary health immediately. The color-changing technology can alert you to potential health issues so that you can seek the treatment your cat needs right away. For instance, the litter will turn blue if your cat's pH balance indicates a possible UTI, or red if there is a possibility of crystals in the urine or another type of FLUTD.

#4: Pay Attention to Litter Box Logistics

If your cat has been exhibiting abnormal litter box behavior, it’s possible  the litter box itself may be causing them stress.

Litter boxes should be in a low-traffic but easily accessible area. If you have multiple cats in your home, you should aim to have at least one litter box per cat plus one extra to ensure there are ample resources available for your kitties.

Be sure the litter box is kept clean, with solids scooped out at least once per day. Doing this can also help ensure you spot any abnormalities in your cat's bathroom habits right away so you can get them to the vet quickly when necessary.

The type of litter you supply for your cats is equally important. Some cats may be picky with the particular type or texture of a brand they've grown accustomed to, and many cats are sensitive to scented litter. It's important to choose a litter your cat likes and transition them to a new brand slowly to make sure the litter box doesn't become an area that triggers stress for your cat.

#5: Make Sure Your Cat Stays Hydrated

To avoid dehydration, which can make cats more susceptible to forming crystals in the urine or even lead to a cat UTI, ensure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water throughout your home. This can mean adding extra water dishes in different areas of the house, or providing a water fountain since some cats prefer to drink from a running water source.

Don't forget that water content can be added via your cat's diet as well. If your cat typically eats dry kibble, you can try adding wet meal toppers or start offering some wet cat food. Lickable purée cat treats offer another method of keeping your cat hydrated through their diet while rewarding your feline friends with an irresistibly delicious treat.

How to Treat Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If you notice any changes to your cat's behavior, including symptoms of stress or a suspected urinary tract issue, don't hesitate to take them to the vet right away. Your veterinarian can conduct an exam including urinalysis to arrive at a proper diagnosis and help determine the cause of your cat's symptoms. Because there are many different causes for the various types of conditions that fall under the umbrella of FLUTD, treatment paths will vary depending on your cat's specific needs. A feline UTI may be treated with a simple antibiotic, but other conditions like bladder stones or a urethral obstruction may require surgery.

However, common at-home treatments may include stress reduction or dietary adjustments to further help your cat heal and avoid future urinary tract issues.

Summary

Urinary tract issues such as UTIs or FLUTD can be a serious health concern in cats, and action should be taken immediately to get them the proper veterinary care they need. Preventative measures can be taken at home to avoid future risks to your cat's urinary health, including stress reduction, adjusting their diet and increasing water intake, and making sure your current litter box setup is meeting your cat's needs.

For a convenient way to monitor your cat's health, try PrettyLitter. Color-changing crystals alert you to potential health issues, so you can catch them early on and ensure the well-being of your furry friends!

 

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Sources:

  1. "Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease." American Veterinary Medical Association.
  2. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease
  3. "Cat Urinary Tract Problems and Infections." Fetch by Web MD. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-urinary-tract-problems
  4. "UTIs in Cats." Pet MD. https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/urinary/utis-cats-urinary-tract-infections-cats
  5. "Does Your Stressed Cat Really Have a Dangerous Urinary Issue?" Pet MD. https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/nutrition/slideshows/does-stressed-cat-have-urinary-issue
  6. "What Is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?" Healthy Paws. https://blog.healthypawspetinsurance.com/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease
  7. "Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)." International Cat Care. https://icatcare.org/advice/feline-idiopathic-cystitis-fic/




Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

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