Feline Urinary Tract Disease
Because cats have very concentrated urine they are prone to several urinary tract health issues. The most common types of urinary disease in cats are urinary tract infections and stones or crystals. Urinary tract problems in cats can be quite serious and so if your cat is having symptoms he or she should see a veterinarian right away.
Urinary tract disorders in cats usually have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Straining when using the litter
- Making repeated trips to the litter box, but unable to pass urine
- Blood in the urine or color change of urine
- Urinating in places other than the litter box
- Small amounts of urine "leaking" from your cat
- Appetite loss
- Crying when using the litter
- Inability to urinate
- Swollen or distended abdominal area (because of a full bladder)
- Excessive licking of the urogenital area
Feline Urinary Tract Infections
While any cat can develop a urinary tract infection, cats with diabetes are especially susceptible to them. This is because diabetic cats often have very high glucose levels in their urine which allows bacteria to grow. Cats with diabetes usually have excessive, frequent urination.
A cat with a urinary tract infection or stones will often strain to use the litter or make frequent trips to the litter box, but they are unable to use it while they are there, or they only pass a small amount of urine.
Cats that are having urinary tract problems will often start urinating in strange or unusual places. Cats with urinary problems often urinate in the bathtub. The urine usually has blood in it, although you may not be able to see this depending on the severity of the infection.
Detecting blood in your cat's urine can be especially difficult if your cat is still using the litter box properly.
If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of a urinary tract infection, your veterinarian will obtain a urine sample from your cat to check for bacteria or the presence of crystals. If your cat has a urinary tract infection your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics. Baytril is a common antibiotic given for feline urinary tract infections.
Feline Urinary Tract Blockage
Because their urine is so concentrated cats sometimes form stones or crystals in their bladder. Sometimes these stones will pass from the bladder down through the ureters and into the cat's urethra where it gets stuck and causes a blockage. Male cats have a very narrow urethra and so they are more commonly afflicted with this problem than female cats, but female cats can have this problem as well.
A blockage in your cat's urinary tract can be fatal if the cat isn't treated right away.
If your cat has a urinary blockage, your veterinarian will insert a catheter to drain your cat's bladder. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the stones or crystals causing the blockage through surgery.
How to Prevent Crystals and Stones from Forming in Your Cats Urinary Tract
Crystals and stones are less likely to form in urine that is more dilute. This is why encouraging your cat to drink more water is a good idea.
Because canned cat food contains much more water than dry cat food, feeding your cat canned cat food will help to dilute your cats urine.
Crystals in cats' urine is typically of two types: struvite or calcium oxalate crystals. There are special cat foods you can obtain from your veterinarian that will decrease crystal formation. Calcium oxalate crystals form as a result of protein metabolism. Struvite crystals are composed of magnesium phosphate. Foods that help prevent the formation of struvite crystals are Purina UR St/Ox, Royal Canin SO30, and Hills feline c/d.
Your veterinarian can tell you which type of crystals your cat has and what type of food will be best for your cat to prevent crystal formation.