Believe it or not, your cat’s potty breaks can tell you a lot about their overall health. As you’re cleaning the litter box, you can examine their stools, urine production, and urine frequency to get a good gauge on whether or not something is wrong or if everything is just business as usual. With a health monitoring litter, this can make the guessing game that much easier when trying to identify if something is wrong.
One of the things you can quickly determine when looking at your cat’s urinary behaviors is whether or not they have a urinary tract infection or UTI. Let’s look at what a cat UTI is, the symptoms to watch out for, what you should do if you suspect your cat has a UTI, as well as some home remedies that can help.
What is a Cat UTI?
A cat UTI occurs when bacteria travels up the urethra and finds itself in the bladder. When this happens, a bacterial infection occurs.
Symptoms of a Cat UTI
Although a urinary infection in cats can be a dangerous concern, the good news is that there are some telling signs that are easy to spot.
The most common signs or a cat experiencing a urinary disorder include:
- Going in and out of the litter box frequently
- Only being able to urinate a small amount
- Howling or crying while urinating
- Excessively licking their genitals
- Blood in the urine
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating outside of the litterbox/in inappropriate places
- Frequent or prolonged attempts to urinate
Cat UTIs vs Other Urinary Disorders
One important thing to note about cat UTIs is that they’re relatively uncommon, but unfortunately, other urinary disorders are pretty common. If you suspect your cat has a UTI, talk to your vet right away because it could be another urinary issue.
One of the most common urinary issues that plague our kitties is urinary crystals. There are two types of crystals, struvite and oxalate. Both of these crystals are caused when there is an imbalance in a cat’s urinary pH. These tiny, microscopic crystals can irritate the inside of the bladder and urethra, making it difficult for your cat to urinate. These urinary issues can lead to serious medical conditions such as bladder or kidney stones or urinary blockage, which can be fatal.
Another urinary issue in addition to a feline UTI is feline idiopathic cystitis or FIC. FIC presents itself in a similar way as crystals or a UTI, but there is no root cause of the problem. Vets agree that some common causes could be stress, dehydration, a small urethra, or inflammation in the bladder, but there’s no way to know for sure without ruling out other causes (such as an infection). This urinary issue can also become extremely serious if your kitty is unable to urinate.
All of these urinary conditions are more likely to affect a male cat because their urethra is much smaller than in female cats. Some vets describe a female cat’s urethra as about the same diameter as a milkshake straw and a male cat’s urethra as the diameter or a coffee stirrer. But, female cats can still have these urinary problems.
What to do if Your Cat is Having Urinary Issues
If you suspect that your cat has a urinary condition like the ones described above, take them to the vet immediately because these issues can turn into a bigger problem, such as a urinary blockage.
Your vet will run a few important diagnostics to determine if your cat has a UTI or another issue. The first is to do a urine culture to see if there are any bacteria, such as e. Coli, responsible. They will also run a urinalysis to test your cat’s urinary pH and to look for blood in the urine. These tests will help determine the root cause if there is one. The cause could be an infection, crystals, or inflammation.
Depending on the cause, your vet may recommend antibiotics if there is an infection or urinary tract problem. If there is another issue, such as crystals, they may recommend putting your cat on a special prescription diet specifically formulated for urinary health. These cat foods are designed to create an inhospitable environment for both types of crystals.
For an immediate solution to the problem, they may also recommend pain meds if your cat is crying while trying to urinate and some antispasmodic medications to help if there is inflammation in the bladder.
Home Remedies for Cat UTIs and Other Urinary Issues
If you notice that your cat is having trouble urinating and suspect that they have a UTI, take them to the vet to make sure nothing else is wrong (such as kidney issues). This professional recourse is the safest bet.
That being said, there are a few home remedies you can try to help alleviate a UTI or prevent urinary problems from popping up in the first place.
If your cat is also experiencing vomiting as a sign or symptom of their UTI, take a look at our article on home remedies for cat vomiting to help alleviate your cat’s pain!
Increased Water Intake
The best thing you can do to improve your kitty’s health is to make sure they are getting enough water. As they say, “the solution to pollution is dilution,” meaning that if there is something messing with your cat’s urinary health (crystals, bacteria, etc.), flushing it out with water is a safe bet.
Cats generally don’t drink enough water, but we can help them by including wet food in their diet and making water bowls accessible at all times. Also, make sure their water bowls are always clean and full of fresh water. Some pet owners avoid using plastic water bowls as these can irritate sensitive kitties.
The next home remedy is to reduce stress if possible. Stress is a contributing factor to many urinary issues, including FIC. To reduce the stress in your home, make sure you provide plenty of places for your cat to jump or hide (cats love various levels), play with them, and limit stressful events like moving the furniture, having too many guests over, or getting another pet.
While prescription diets don’t treat bacterial infections like UTIs, they help promote a healthy urinary environment and reduce the risk of the other conditions we mentioned, including both struvite and oxalate crystals and feline idiopathic cystitis.
A Clean Litterbox
If your cat is experiencing a feline UTI, you want to make sure their litter box is always super clean, so they feel comfortable going. If you live in a multiple-cat household, you should also make sure you have one more litterbox than you have cats. For example, if you have two cats, you should have three litterboxes. This ensures that each kitty always has a clean, quiet place to go!
Homeopathic UTI Supplements
There are some homeopathic options for treating UTIs in cats once you see the clinical signs of a urinary issue forming. Most of these products contain some variation of cranberry, d-mannose, and other natural supplements. These can come in a liquid you give your cat, as a food topper, or even in treat form.
In addition to supplements specifically designed for UTIs, there are also some supplements you can try to help alleviate your kitty’s bathroom woes.
One remedy vets recommend is a synthetic pheromone diffuser. These diffusers emit the same pheromones that cats do naturally to calm down. Therefore, they have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and bad behavior.
You can also try CBD to calm your kitty, although, talk to your doctor before trying one. You’ll want to make sure you get a CBD tincture that doesn’t contain any THC.
Lastly, some vets recommend Cosequin, which is usually a supplement to treat joint pain and arthritis. But, some experts have seen a correlation between Cosequin and reduced bladder inflammation.
Cat UTIs are not fun to deal with for you or your four-legged friend, but knowing the signs and symptoms can help you detect a UTI as soon as possible and begin treatment. If your cat does have a UTI, your vet will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics to rid the lower urinary tract of infection.
In addition to UTIs, there are other, more common urinary issues that can affect cats, including urinary crystals and FIC. These conditions can be extremely serious and potentially fatal if not addressed quickly. Monitor your kitty’s bathroom breaks to get a good gauge on their health and take note of how often they urinate, how much comes out, whether there is blood in the urine, or if they are straining to urinate.
Don’t think your cat is experiencing a UTI but still know something just isn’t right? Read on to find out about Roundworm vs. Tapeworms in Cats and to find out if your feline is experiencing the effects of a tapeworm in cats.