Urinary tract infection or UTI is very common in cats. The culprit behind it is often FLUTD or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, which is a blanket name that covers many clinical symptoms with more than one possible cause. It is impossible to find the root of the problem and know how to treat UTI in cats without veterinary help. Therefore, your cat should visit one as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you can help your cat feel less uneasy by learning how to treat UTI at home. There are a couple of ways to help relieve the pain and prevent blockage of the urethra with home remedies. These are by no means a substitute for veterinary care, they but might help both you and your cat feel better before the necessary visit.
In this article, we will cover usual symptoms of UTI, possible causes, and home remedies. We will also tell you about risk factors and what to keep in mind to prevent this condition from happening. Some cats are more prone to catching this disease than others, so if your feline is in the risk group, you might want to keep a close eye on his or her behavior.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
Early signs of UTI are not hard to recognize, especially if you have an indoor cat. If you are suspecting that your outdoor cat has UTI, it would be wise to keep him/her indoors for a couple of days and keep track of his/her behavior, just to make sure. After all, being outside with this infection might rapidly worsen the cat’s condition.
Here is a list of common UTI symptoms that are easy to spot:
Inability to urinate or only passing a small amount of urine. The bladder inflammation or feline idiopathic cystitis is usually the cause of UTI in cats. The inflammation of the lower urinary tract can lead to difficulties when trying to pass urine. It can even lead to the formation of stones in the bladder or the urethral plug, stopping the flow of urine altogether. This is a life-threatening condition that usually affects male cats.
Bloody or cloudy urine. Dark urine or blood is always a clear sign of UTI and should be addressed immediately. Bloody urine is a symptom that is more common in females than in males.
Loss of bladder control, dribbling urine. Your cat might be in so much pain that he/she completely lost control of the bladder.
Increased frequency of urination or visits to the litter box. Because the amount of urine passed in each attempt is little to none, you might find your cat visiting the litter box much more frequently than usual.
Straining and/or crying out in pain when trying to pass urine. This is a very clear sign that your cat has UTI. Bladder infections are very painful and frustrating.
Prolonged squatting in the litter box. Just as we’ve mentioned above, the urine flow is obstructed in cats with UTI. Therefore, you might find your cat sitting in the litterbox for a long time trying to urinate with no success.
Fear/avoidance of litter box and soiling in inappropriate places. Some cats stop using the litter box altogether. We are not sure of the reason—maybe because your cat associates the litter box with pain.
Constant licking of the urinal opening. You might also find your cat licking the urinal opening in an attempt to soothe the pain.
A strong odor of ammonia in urine. Because the urine does not have a healthy flora, the smell is different. While this is not a decisive factor of UTI on its own, it is probably wise to keep an eye on your cat’s behavior if you smell something funny.
Lethargy. UTI symptoms are very painful and exhausting. Your cat might feel very tired and scared.
Vomiting. This symptom is a sign of a medical emergency. The waste products that need to get out of your cat’s body through urination are trapped in the body because of a blockage. Hence, they begin to leech into other parts of the body, leading to lethargy and vomiting, and eventually death.
Increased water consumption. Your cat is probably trying to help themselves by drinking more water. While this is instinctively logical, if there is a full blockage, extra water might worsen the situation.
Hard, distended abdomen. The amount of urine trapped in your cat’s bladder might lead to bloating and tension. The bladder might even rupture due to pressure! Make sure to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
See Also: How to Tell If Your Cat is Sick
Urinary Tract Infection Causes
While it is impossible to know exactly what caused the UTI without having a vet run urine and blood tests, x-ray, or ultrasound imaging, we can tell you some reasons why this happens in the first place. Of course, it is crucial to get the right diagnosis from a professional.
#1: Stones, Crystals, or Debris Accumulation in the Bladder or Urethra
The condition is formally known as Urolithiasis. This is the most common cause of UTI. Male cats are much more prone to this condition than females, and senior cats are at a bigger risk that the young ones.
There are two kinds of crystals that can form in the bladder, and which type develops largely depends on your cat’s urine pH. A low pH is associated with calcium oxalate crystals, while a higher pH can cause struvite crystals.
#2: Urethral Plug
This condition is connected to the previous one. Debris from the bladder accumulate in the urethra and form a plug. This is the most dangerous cause of UTI since it can cause death in less than 72 hours if left untreated. It is most common in males since they have a longer urethra.
#3: Bladder Inflammation or Infection
This condition is usually caused by a bacterial infection. It is rare and easily treatable with antibiotics, but a urino-analysis test must be done by the vet to make sure the right kind and amount of antibiotics are chosen. You should never give human antibiotics to your cat without consulting your vet.
#4: Injury to, or Tumor in, the Urinary Tract
If the problem causing UTI is of “mechanical” nature, meaning your kitty has a tumor, it should be easily discovered through ultrasound imaging. The good news is that this is solvable. The bad news is that your cat might need surgery.
Believe it or not, a stressful environment can be reflected in this way. You should find a way to reduce stress and make your cat feel more relaxed in your home.
#6: Spinal Cord Problems and Congenital Abnormality
This condition is extremely rare. If your cat has problems with the spine, it might so happen that some internal organs are suffering displacement or torsion.
A congenital abnormality is usually genetic. In this case, there is really not much you can do on your own, and you should definitely consult a veterinarian.
Treating UTI at Home
Want to know how to treat cat UTI at home? We are going to list some useful remedies that can help relieve pain and ease the symptoms of UTI. All of these are easily available and affordable, meaning that you can start treating your cat right away until you can take them to the vet.
#1: Apple Cider Vinegar
This treats struvite crystals in the bladder. Struvite crystals can be treated by a slightly acidic diet. Use this remedy only if you know which type of crystal your cat has since a slightly acidic diet can worsen the condition of a cat that has calcium oxalate crystals in his or her bladder. Mix raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into your cat’s food.
#2: Extra Water Intake
It helps with flushing out bacteria and sand. Make sure that your cat drinks enough water if you are suspecting UTI.
Some cats, like desert breeds, don’t have a habit of drinking enough water since they get most of it through food. Other cats are just fussy about stale water that sits in the bowl forever.
Try to oxidize the water by putting a small water pump in the bowl. Most cats love this, and it makes it more fun for them. Also change the water regularly and make sure to have more than one water bowl available.
See Also: DIY Cat Water Fountain
#3: Supplementing Food with D-Mannose
It helps with bacterial infections. D-Mannose is a tasteless sugar that doesn’t affect blood sugar or pH levels and is safe for diabetic cats as well as for pregnant or nursing cats.
The bacteria causing the infection will bind to the D-mannose and get flushed out of the body through urination. The recommended dose is ¼ to ½ teaspoon mixed with one tablespoon of water, added to your cat’s food or water.
#4: Cranberry Juice
It helps with struvite crystals in the bladder. Cranberry juice acidifies the urine and helps dissolve the crystals. Of course, the juice should be all natural and unsweetened.
Cats usually don’t like the taste so make sure to mask it well with your cat’s favorite food. The dose of ¼ teaspoon a day should be enough.
#5: Wet Food
It helps with water intake. Some cats are not big on drinking water. If your cat usually eats dry kibble, this can create a problem. A cat that is prone to UTI should switch to a wet food diet altogether.
Make sure to check the food label since many manufacturers add artificial color and taste enhancers, which may cause more bladder problems.
See Also: How to Make Homemade Cat Food
#6: Cod Liver Oil
It helps with dissolving crystals and fighting bacteria. This oil is a powerful antibiotic. It also prevents the formation of urine crystals and stones. What’s more, it can help reduce the unpleasant smell of urine.
#7: Bone Broth
It helps to increase the water intake and strengthen the bladder. This is our go-to solution for cats that are very stubborn when it comes to not drinking enough water. Bone broth is very appetizing and full of nutrients. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin which fight inflammation and protect the bladder’s lining, along with anti-inflammatory amino acids that can make your cat feel better.
Note that the broth should not have any salt, onion, or garlic added. Salt is what got your cat in this situation in the first place, and onion and garlic are toxic to cats. If you can, it’s best to make it yourself.
Serve the broth with food or offer your cat a bowl of warm broth—he or she will definitely love it.
It helps strengthen the bladder. The bladder produces a layer of mucus-like material that acts like a bandage to protect the lining from noxious substances in urine.
When a cat has UTI, this layer becomes thinner, exposing the bladder lining to irritation. Glucosamine can help to replenish this layer and make the treatment take effect faster.
#9: Food Additives and Specialized Medicinal Foods
There are readily available over-the-counter additives that are made for treating UTI, such as urinary acidifiers or kidney and bladder formulas that contain cranberry juice extract, glucosamine, and other helpful substances.
Some cat food manufacturers even make medicinal food lines that contain all necessary supplements for eliminating stones and crystals from urine. Make sure to consult your vet before using any of these, though.
This is, of course, only to be used after consulting your vet. Since bacterial infections are rare, the only way to know if antibiotics are needed is that your vet runs some tests.
Even if the UTI is caused by bacteria, the particular strain in your cat’s system might be resistant to certain types of antibiotics. After the therapy is prescribed, make sure to follow it through. If you don’t, an easily preventable bacterial infection can quickly get out of control and spread.
#11: Reduce Stress
Most cases of feline urinary tract diseases are diagnosed as feline idiopathic cystitis—a condition with is strongly linked to stress. This means that reducing stress in your home can actually help fight this condition in the long run.
Here are some useful tricks you can use to help your cat feel more relaxed.
Use a synthetic cat pheromone on your cat’s bedding or her favorite resting places. This helps calm the cat.
Feed your cat at the same time every day. This is important because cats are slaves to habit. Their internal clock is impeccable, too.
Keep the litter box clean at all times and don’t move it around. Find a nice, peaceful corner where your cat can have some privacy and keep it there.
Have regular playtimes, at the same time every day. These don’t have to be long playing sessions—15 minutes before bedtime or just after you get up is quite enough. This helps your cat relieve tension, get some exercise, and bond with you.
Provide vertical spaces for your cat. A small shelf or a way to climb on the kitchen cupboards can make all the difference. This gives your cat a sense of security and a way to have some peaceful time. This is especially important if you have other pets or small children in the household.
See Also: DIY Cat Shelves
We hope this article helped you understand UTI better. This is a very common, but serious condition that can lead to a fatal outcome if left untreated. It is also very painful for the cat, so make sure to take your beloved pet to the vet as soon as possible.
We know that visits to the vet can be costly, but most veterinarians are happy to help you come up with a payment plan that won’t make a huge dent in your budget.
If your cat has a history of this disease, the home remedies we listed above can greatly help when used as a prevention or treatment for very early symptoms. Just make sure always to consult your veterinarian so you can rest assured that you are doing the right thing for your beloved kitty.
Has your cat been diagnosed with UTI? What solution did the vet suggest? Do you have any tips and tricks you can share with fellow cat owners here? Please do so in the comments section! Before you go, do check out our article on how to tell if a cat has a fever to promote a healthy and long life for your cat!