All pet owners know how difficult it is see your pet in pain… and diagnosing the source of your pet’s discomfort can lead to even more frustration.
Because our pets are unable to communicate their symptoms we must resort to what we can observe, which often requires trial and error and expensive vet visits. Sometimes the symptoms are subtle, like minor lethargy.
Other times, an illness is apparent with obvious symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. The truth is, even the smallest behavioral changes can indicate a serious problem. When it comes to urinary tract infections, sometimes the first signs are easily missed. But UTIs are not to be taken lightly as they lead to even more severe infections if left untreated.
Urinary tract infections are especially prevalent in felines and caused by bacteria — most commonly E. coli, Staphylococcus, Proteus, Chlamydia, Enterococcus, Klebsiella, Streptococcus, Enterobacter or Pseudomonas — entering the urinary tract, passing through the urethra, and reaching the bladder.
Injury to the urethra, incontinence, stress, and spinal cord problems are also issues that may contribute to the development of a UTI.
While most cases of UTIs in cats are associated with another overlying problem such as feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, or diabetes, it is still possible for cats to suffer from chronic UTIs without pre-existing conditions. The exact cause of these seemingly random infections is unclear, although certain allergies are known to contribute to bladder irritation, resulting in recurrent UTIs.
Male cats are typically more likely to experience urinary tract infections due to their narrower urethras, but female cats are also prone to this uncomfortable and potentially dangerous condition.
As with many illnesses in pets, the symptoms for urinary tract infections range from minor to severe.
If your cat is suffering from a UTI, you may notice that they frequently visit their litter box but urinate very little. It is also common for cats to lose some bladder control and experience cloudy urine, or urine with a strong ammonia odor.
Other symptoms include prolonged squatting in the litterbox, vocalizing pain while attempting to urinate, licking around the urinary opening, and urinating in inappropriate places. Less indicative symptoms may include lethargy, vomiting, a distended stomach, and increased water consumption.
As with many illnesses, the key to avoiding the difficulty and frustration that come with a feline UTI is prevention.
This condition is often recurrent, but there are some simple ways cat owners can keep their pet from suffering from chronic UTI pain. While cats with pre-existing conditions that lead to UTIs are naturally at a pre-disposition, all cats should have access to clean water, and easy-to-access, clean litter boxes.
Keep a close eye on your cat’s weight, as heavy cats are more prone to health issues, and give your cat canned food that will provide more protein and moisture. Maintain a regular feeding routine and avoid situations that may create stress and anxiety.
If you suspect that your cat is suffering from a UTI, there are measures you can take to treat the infection at home. Please note that these remedies are intended for mild infections in which the cat is not crying out in pain, is still able to pass urine, and seems to be experiencing only mild discomfort.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Due to the acidity of apple cider vinegar, introducing it to your cat’s diet may prevent and eliminate the presence of harmful bacteria. Add ½ teaspoon of vinegar with 1 teaspoon chicken broth to your cat’s canned food each day.
If your cat is currently suffering from UTI, the use of apple cider vinegar should alleviate their symptoms within a few days. If symptoms do not improve, consult a veterinarian.
A key component in treating recurrent urinary tract infections is to make sure the animal is hydrated. To ensure your cat is consuming enough fluids, introduce as much moisture into their diet as possible. An effective way to do this is to offer your cat bone broth.
Not only will this provide the hydration they need, but will also supply beneficial nutrients that will help fight the infection.
This absorbable sugar comes in loose powder or capsule form, and is best administered by being added to canned food. D-Mannose is highly effective when treating and preventing urinary tract infections as it has antimicrobial properties.
When this sugar is present in the cat’s urine, the harmful bacteria that normally clings to the urethra and lining of the bladder instead clings to the D-Mannose and is excreted with the urine.
When to See a Vet
While these at-home remedies may be effective for minor infections, remember that UTIs can be life-threatening if left untreated. If your cat is in great pain, unable to urinate, or passing bloody urine, see a vet immediately.
Veterinarians will often prescribe antibiotics for feline UTIs and it is important to remember that you must complete the full dose prescribed, even after the symptoms have subsided. Failing to do so can cause recurrent urinary tract infections with bacteria that is more resistant to treatment.
Jayson is a writer from Phoenix, Arizona who loves pets! He is a proud owner of a beautiful kitty and wants to share the joy of pet ownership with others. He hopes to encourage people to keep their pets happy and healthy year-round.