Cat UTI: Everything You Need To Know!

Tabby cat in trees

Did you know that your four-legged friend can experience similar disruptive health conditions to you? Everything from anxiety to arthritis, hip dysplasia to bladder infections. Health issues are an unfortunate fact of life for both humans and animals alike.

If you’ve ever had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), you’ll know just how distressing, uncomfortable, and painful they can be. But when you have one, you’re able to communicate with someone and let people know – however, our poor pets have to count on us to recognize the signs and help them get better.

So, we need to know what to look for so we can get them the help they need as quickly as possible. Today we’re looking at cat UTIs: signs of UTIs in cats and how you can help them recover.

What is a UTI?

Firstly, we need to know what a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is. UTI is the generic term for an infection that’s in the urethra, bladder, or urinary tract. If it isn’t dealt with swiftly, it can make its way up to the kidneys, which can cause more health problems for your kitty as these are vital organs. And, in the worst-case scenario, an untreated UTI can cause complete renal failure.

If a UTI isn’t treated straight away, as well as affecting the kidneys, it can also cause significant cell damage in the body from the invasion of microorganism bacterium.

How does a cat develop a UTI?

White cat yawning

Typically, a UTI develops when bacteria move up the urethra toward the bladder, just the same way we humans contract UTIs.

Healthy urine, which is stored in the bladder, is meant to be sterile. However, if bacteria manage to enter the bladder, the bacteria can grow and multiply, resulting in an infection.

Your cat is more at risk of developing a UTI if they are elderly, have diabetes, are overweight or obese, are incontinent due to excessive water drinking, have a congenital abnormality, or have sustained an injury in the urinary tract.

What Are Cat UTI Symptoms?

There are multiple symptoms that could indicate your cat is suffering from a UTI. They are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination (they be vocal and cry out whilst urinating)
  • Difficult urination (straining)
  • Genital licking/Over-grooming (this can also lead to loss of hair)
  • Noticeably strong urine door
  • Urinating in unusual locations (not outside, not in their litter box)

If being examined by a vet, they will be looking for:

    • A blockage in the urethra, bladder or the urine flow
    • A hardened, thick and contracted bladder wall

    If your cat is experiencing any of the above, it’s vital you get them looked at by a vet as soon as possible to prevent the potential infection worsening or traveling up to the kidneys.

    How does my cat get diagnosed?

    At the veterinary appointment, they will take a urine sample from your cat which will be analyzed. They will be able to determine if there’s a bacterial infection present from the properties of the urine. They will also determine which organism is causing the problem exactly, via the urinalysis, and be able to decide on the most appropriate treatment for your cat.

    Your cat may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory pain relief alongside their antibiotics.

    If the test is negative for a UTI, to rule anything else out, your vet may also order a blood test to identify if their symptoms are a different disease or infection.

    What is the treatment for a UTI?

    If your cat is diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, the most likely treatment route will be antibiotics. Your vet may also request a follow-up appointment to make sure that the infection has gone and hasn’t spread.

    How can I prevent my cat from developing a UTI?

    Tabby cat laying with eyes shut

    Surprisingly, stress is one of the most common UTI triggers in cats. Cat stressors may not be that apparent to owners and can be something as simple as having a guest over, the introduction of a new pet, or changes going on within the home. Keep your cat stress free by investing in interactive toys, a scratch post, places to climb and areas to chill out in under sunlight.

    Cat parents should ensure that their kitty is eating a well-balanced diet so their body has all the nutrients it needs to battle bacteria and germs. A good diet will also support in keeping your cat at a healthy weight – overweight cats are at a higher risk of contracting UTIs.

    You should also encourage your cat to drink lots of water as this helps to keep the kidneys and bladder healthy. Some cats like freshwater, others prefer stale and many cats love running water, so experiment with your cat's taste. You can also try feeding your cat wet food to help increase their water intake.

    If your cat is in a high-risk category for contracting UTIs, your vet may request regular urine tests to make sure any potential infections are dealt with before symptoms can take hold.

    Final thoughts

    The trick with UTIs is to nip them in the bud as soon as possible. If you suspect any UTI symptoms at all, get your furry friend checked over by your vet ASAP.


    Sarah Milton

    Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!

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