How to Treat a Cat UTI and Other Urinary Issues

9/20/2018
Through medical intervention, the right diet, and an improved lifestyle, you and your vet can work together to treat your cat's urinary problems. Learn about how in this article.
Adult cat lying down on an examination table being checked over by a vet.

It's common for cats to have urinary issues, but luckily these can be treated very effectively through a combination of lifestyle changes and diet. If you've noticed your cat's behavior around urinating has changed recently, the first step is to visit your vet.

Your vet and your cat's urinary problems

When you attend your appointment with your vet, they'll do a thorough examination and ask you about the symptoms your cat is exhibiting. This might include straining to urinate, urinating in smaller volumes than normal or failing to urinate at all, exhibiting discomfort when urinating and urine which has a pinkish color (indicating the presence of blood).

If your vet identifies that your cat has an infection, they will treat this with antibacterial agents. Urinary problems due to infection, such as cystitis, are uncommon in cats but your vet will be able to rule this out.

Your vet may find that your cat is suffering from a "stone." This is the build up of specific minerals in your cat's urine, which normally it would be able to process and flush out through urination. These minerals crystallize to form a stone, much like kidney stones in humans. These can irritate and inflame your cat's urinary organs, causing pain. Depending on the diagnosis and clinical situation, your vet will surgically remove the stone, and chemically analyze it. By doing this, they can find out its exact composition; this is essential, as different types of stone require different treatments. Your vet may also recommend a specially designed diet to effectively dissolve urinary stones.

Treating urinary problems in your cat, particularly if they are idiopathic—that is, without an identifiable cause—is a long-term commitment which your vet will be able to support you with.

Adult cat lying down on an examination table being checked over by a vet.

Home Remedies for Cat UTIs and Other Urinary Problems

After an initial consultation, your vet may advise you to change some aspects of your cat’s lifestyle to help maintain urinary health. This may include helping your cat lose weight or increase their activity levels.

Cats who drink and pee less frequently are also at higher risk of bladder stones, so your vet may suggest strategies, including diet, to increase water intake.

Cats can also suffer from bladder problems due to stress at home. This includes stress from fragrances, noises in the home, and inadequate resources, like feeding stations and litter boxes. Significant lifestyle changes may also result in anxiety, such as adoption, introducing a new pet into the household, and moving into a new house.

Your veterinarian may suggest the following to reduce this stress:

  • Making sure your cat has permanent, easy, and safe access to large, clean litter boxes.
  • Limiting the interaction between cats in your home who don’t get along.
  • Modifying your environment to better meet the behavioral needs of the cat.
  • Anti-anxiety medication, pheromone diffusers or therapeutic food.

Learn more about supporting your cat's urinary health through environmental enrichment in Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere?

Urinary Tract Cat Food to Support Urinary Health

Your cat’s diet can play an effective role in supporting their bladder health by promoting a healthy urine pH and limiting the number of minerals that have the potential to crystallize and cause bladder stones. Their food should also be highly digestible and provide all essential nutrients in necessary amounts to support general health.

Wet foods can be useful as they contain a high percentage of water, therefore encouraging your cat to pee more frequently and flush out their system. However, if your cat prefers dry food, you can encourage them to drink more water by using running water sources (like fountains), filling the water bowl to the brim so it’s easy to access, and avoiding placing the bowl next to busy locations, litter trays or food areas. You can even offer ‘flavored’ waters, such as water drained from a can of tuna, or water drained from defrosted, cooked prawns.

If you are using flavored water sources, be sure to ask your vet if they are compatible with any therapeutic diet that may have been recommended to you, and always make sure that plain, unflavored water is available, and that all sources of water are kept clean and fresh.

It’s crucial to consult your vet before beginning at-home support of your cat’s bladder health, just in case there is a more pressing issue that needs medical attention. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of action and support you at each step.

Learn more about supporting your cat's bladder health.

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