It is always distressing to spot the first signs of a urinary infection in our cats, especially if they appear out of the blue. Known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), the symptoms can include pain and bleeding when passing urine, going to the toilet more or less often and a change in behaviour, for example high levels of anxiety and not using the litter tray.
According to Cats Protection, FLUTD is not a single condition but the umbrella term for infections of the bladder and urethra (though not usually the kidneys). Triggers can range from bacterial or viral infections to urinary stones, stress and even cancer of the urethra and/or bladder and kidney disease. Worryingly for owners, the charity says that in 70 per cent of cases, no underlying cause can be identified so a diagnosis of idiopathic (or spontaneous) FLUTD will usually be given.
What are the symptoms of FLUTD?
Like any illness, it is important to catch it early before it causes too much damage. FLUTD can cause obstructions to our cats, which means they will not be able to purge waste products and may even poison themselves. Spotting a cat urinary tract infection is relatively easy, according to the RSPCA, as you normally see your kitty behaving differently and/or showing signs of discomfort.
The common signs for FLUTD are:
- Regular attempts to urinate
- Difficulty urinating or painful urination
- Bloody urine
- General irritation
- Lack of appetite
- Urinating outside of the litter box
- Depression and lethargy
How can I treat my cat’s urinary infection?
As FLUTD covers a wide range of conditions, it is important to book an appointment with the vet straightaway. Left untreated, your kitty could experience extreme discomfort or even kidney failure. Diagnosis normally involves a urine and/or blood sample however the vet may also recommend an x-ray or ultrasound if stones are suspected or a biopsy in the case of cancer.
Bacterial infections are relatively straightforward to treat with antibiotics, while stones may call for a combination of medication and changes to a cat’s diet and exercise regime. If stress is a factor, speak to your vet about what could be behind it, for instance a new baby or pet in the family. He or she may suggest rotating their toys to keep them entertained or prescribe anti-anxiety medication.
Whatever the cause of your cat’s urinary problems, always seek medical help to get a diagnosis. Don’t be tempted to treat the condition yourself, even if you have successfully done so before and remember it is always easier to treat when you catch it early.
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