What is Urinary Disease in Cats?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
There are no specific breeds of cats predisposed to urinary diseases. However, male cats are more prone to developing urinary tract blockages and related complications than female cats.
When Bella, an energetic and curious Russian Blue cat, began showing signs of discomfort while using the litter box and making frequent trips to it, her owner, Mark, knew something was amiss. Concerned for Bella’s health, he took her to their trusted veterinarian for an examination. After conducting a series of tests, the veterinarian Bella diagnosed Bella with urinary disease, a condition that can affect cats of all breeds and ages.
Urinary disease is a condition where there is not enough urine output. This may be due to kidney problems, bladder stones, or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cats are prone to developing these conditions due to their anatomy. Their kidneys are low in the abdomen, making them vulnerable to damage from infections and stones.
In addition, their urine sample has a higher concentration of bacteria than human urine. This means that cats are more susceptible to UTIs and bacterial infections.
Types of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
Urolithiasis generally accounts for around 10-15% of cases of FLUTD. They are small solid masses that form inside the cat’s urinary system. Most commonly, they occur in the kidneys. However, they may also develop in the bladder, urethra, or penis.
These stones are usually made of calcium oxalate, phosphate, uric acid, or struvite. Some cats are born with rocks, while others acquire them later in life.
Cystitis occurs when bacteria enter the bladder and multiply. This causes inflammation and irritation of the bladder lining. Cystitis is often accompanied by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
This condition occurs most frequently in young female cats.
- Bladder Tumors
Bladder tumors are benign growths that grow within the walls of the bladder. They are rare in cats but can cause severe symptoms such as hematuria (bloody urine).
They are typically found in older male cats.
- Kidney Failure
Kidneys play a vital role in maintaining proper fluid balance in the body. Therefore, they need to function correctly t filter waste products effectively.
When the kidneys fail, wastes accumulate in the bloodstream. As a result, patients become dehydrated and weak. In addition, their skin becomes dry and scaly, and they suffer muscle wasting.
- Idiopathic cystitis (FIC)
This is another type of urinary disorder that occurs in cats. FIC is not associated with bacterial infections. Instead, it is thought to be due to genetic factors and environmental triggers.
- Feline urological syndrome (FUS)
It is another type of urinary disease in cats. FUS occurs when the bladder becomes infected or inflamed.
Another type of urinary stone in cats is renal failure. Renal failure happens when the kidneys stop working correctly. It may be due to kidney stones, infection, cancer, or trauma.
- Other Conditions
Other urinary tract diseases include pyelonephritis, renal abscesses, and feline diabetes mellitus. These conditions are uncommon in cats, but they should be considered in any case of unexplained illness.
What Causes FLUTD in Cats?
There are many causes of urinary issues in cats. The most common cause is kidney failure due to chronic renal insufficiency (CRI). CRI occurs when the kidneys stop working correctly. This happens because the body doesn’t produce enough urine to flush out waste products, toxins, and extra water.
Other causes include bladder stones, infections, tumors, and trauma. Bladder stones are minor minerals that form inside the cat’s bladder. They form when bacteria feed off the urethra, causing crystals to build up inside the cat’s urinary tract. This causes inflammation and irritation, leading to infection and, eventually, stone formation. They can be painful and may require surgery to remove them.
Cats’ most common urinary disease is feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). This condition causes frequent urination and sometimes incontinence. In addition, it’s usually associated with obesity and diabetes mellitus.
- Infections usually occur after a cat swallows bacteria or external parasites. Bacteria then multiply and enter the cat’s bladder through the urethra. If left untreated, they can spread throughout the urinary tract and lead to cystitis.
- Tumors are noncancerous growths affecting any part of the urinary tract. Most commonly, they appear on the surface of the bladder. They can be removed surgically if caught early.
- Trauma is another common cause of UTI. For example, a cat may injure itself during play or accidentally swallow something sharp. Injuries like this can damage the bladder’s lining and allow bacteria into the urinary tract.
If your pet develops any of these conditions, contact your veterinarian immediately. They can help diagnose the problem and recommend treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Health Problem in Cats
Signs of disease vary depending on the type of infection. Some infections cause no symptoms, while others may be painful or bloody.
If your cat has been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI), there are several ways to treat it. First, your veterinarian should prescribe antibiotics and recommend dietary changes to help prevent future recurrences.
Here are some signs of a UTI in cats:
- Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urination
- Straining when urinating
- Fecal incontinence
- Licking genitals
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
Diagnosis of Urinary Disease in Cats
To diagnose your cat’s UTI, your vet will examine your pet’s eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, skin, hair, paws, gums and teeth, abdomen, genitalia, rectum, and anal area.
- They will also weigh the cat and measure its height. Your vet will also check urine samples for signs of infection.
- Your vet will also order urinalysis tests to detect bacteria in your cat’s urine. Urinalysis involves collecting urine samples from your cat and testing them for evidence of bacterial growth.
- A fecal analysis is another diagnostic tool used to confirm a UTI. Feces contain bacteria that can indicate whether your cat can develop a UTI.
- Radiography is another diagnostic tool veterinarians use to confirm cat UTI. Radiography uses x-rays to create images of internal organs.
- Ultrasounds are used to evaluate kidney function and detect abnormalities in the kidneys, such as stones, tumors, cysts, and other problems. Ultrasounds are especially useful in detecting renal calculi (kidney stones) in cats.
- Biopsies are performed to remove tissue samples from specific body areas to aid in diagnosing diseases. Biopsies may be performed during surgery or via needle puncture.
- In addition to examining your cat, your vet will perform bloodwork to rule out other conditions that cause symptoms similar to those seen in cats with UTIs. These conditions include diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, liver failure, pancreatitis, and malnutrition.
Your vet will likely recommend treatment based on urinalysis, fecal analysis, radiography, ultrasound, and biopsy results. In addition, treatment may involve antibiotics, pain medications, fluids, and nutritional supplements.
Treatment for FLUTD in Cats
Cats with the urinary disease need treatment. For example, they may be sick and require medication. Or they may already be receiving treatment but still have problems.
If your cat needs medical care, there are many options available. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend the right treatment plan for your cat based on their condition.
- Medications often treat feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD). Drugs may be administered orally or injected directly into the bladder. Although some side effects may occur, they’re usually effective at treating FLUTD.
- Dietary modifications can help your cat reduce the amount of urine produced by the cat. This includes feeding diets containing fewer protein sources, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
- Surgical procedures are sometimes necessary when medical treatment fails. These surgeries involve removing parts of the bladder or urethra. Veterinarians typically perform surgical procedures.
- Holistic therapies are alternative methods of treating urinary problems in cats. These therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, nutritional supplements, and herbal remedies.
Prevention of FLUTD
Urinary disease in cats is preventable. However, untreated UTIs can lead to kidney damage, chronic infection, and death. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent UTIs in cats. These include keeping the litter box clean, feeding a healthy diet, and providing plenty of fresh water.
To help keep your cat’s urine free of harmful bacteria, try these tips:
- Keep the litter box clean. Cleaning the litter box daily helps remove any debris that may harbor bacteria.
- Feed a healthy diet. Ensure your cat eats a balanced diet of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and omega-fatty acids. This includes canned food, dry kibble, raw meat, and cooked bones.
- Provide ample fresh water. Your cat needs at least 10 cups of fresh water per day.
Cats that drink too much water can become dehydrated, which increases their risk of developing UTIs. To avoid this problem, monitor your cat’s drinking habits and adjust its water intake accordingly.
Also, be aware that some medications used to treat UTIs in cats can cause diarrhea. So, if your cat develops diarrhea after taking antibiotics, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Finally, remember that prevention is better than cure. In addition, preventative medicine is often cheaper and safer than treating illnesses once they’ve occurred.
Frequently Asked Questions
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