When your feline friend stops using the litter box and instead decides to do their business on your favorite rug, it can be quite frustrating, but truth is, your cat might actually be trying to tell you that they could be suffering from a urinary tract infection. Just like humans, cats can develop urinary tract infections. The difference is, they don’t have the ability to tell us what is ailing them. That’s why they rely on us to get them the help they need when they need it.
A urinary tract infection, or UTI, starts when bacteria enter the urethra and decide to set up camp in the bladder, making a sterile environment contaminated and infected.
Common signs of urinary tract infections in cats include:
- Frequent urination
- Straining to urinate
- Not using the litter box
- Blood in urine
- Painful urination or vocalizing when trying to urinate
- Licking of the genitals
- More odorous than usual urine
What to do if your cat shows signs of a urinary tract infection
The first thing you should do if you observe any symptoms of a UTI is call your veterinarian. Be prepared to give a detailed history including your cat’s lifestyle, the type of food they eat, if they are exhibiting an increase in water consumption and any environmental changes to your cat’s life. Sudden environmental changes can also cause inappropriate urination. Even something as small as a change in laundry detergent can do this.
When you schedule your cat’s appointment, try to keep them from using the litter box before their appointment.
The reason being is that the veterinarian will want to obtain a urine sample to diagnose a UTI. This is done by taking the sample directly from the bladder (so that it is sterile and is not contaminated by bacteria in a box) and the urine is then sent out to the lab. Most veterinary hospitals can do the analysis in house, so they have results within an hour. The urine is put on a test strip that changes colors if the urine is positive for certain flags like glucose and white blood cells. The sample is also looked at to see what the concentration is and under a microscope for red and white blood cells and bacteria. If present, it is stained to find what kind of bacteria it is.
More than likely, your feline friend will leave the clinic with a goody bag with antibiotics and pain medication for the UTI.
It is extremely important that you ensure to finish the antibiotics as directed.
Ensure they are drinking plenty of water as well. Once finished with the antibiotic course, your veterinarian will want to recheck your cat’s urine to ensure the UTI has cleared up. If not, your veterinarian may want to send out a sample for a culture and sensitivity test, which looks to see what antibiotics will work and what the bacteria are resistant to.
If your cat is starting to urinate inappropriately or seems to have some trouble trying to go number one in the urine box, don’t ignore them! They are trying to tell you something is not right. Urinary tract infections are just as frustrating and uncomfortable for them as they are for us.