Urinary Obstructions and Infections in Cats

Written on May 08, 2013 by Annalisa Prahl, DVM, DACVIM Hospital: Bulger Veterinary Hospital

cats are familyDid you know that there are 74 million cats in homes right here in the United States? Cats have been sharing our lives for 10,000 years.  Many of us cannot imagine our lives without them and consider them one of the family.

Urinary Tract Obstructions in Male Cats

Since cats are part of our families it is important to be aware of common feline ailments.  If you share a home with a male cat, keeping tabs on his urinary health is essential.  Male cats are at increased risk of obstruction of their lower urinary tract.  Male cats with this life threatening condition can become quiet, entering their litter box and posturing to urinate multiple times with no results.  They may stop eating and start to vomit.  Cats with urinary tract obstructions can develop temporary or permanent kidney damage and dangerous heart rhythm changes.

The most common causes of urinary obstructions in male cats are due to urinary tract stones or urethral mucus plugs.  Immediate intervention is necessary to relieve the obstruction.  This usually requires placement of a urinary catheter, followed by intravenous fluids. If the obstruction is due to a stone, then surgery may be required to remove the stone.

With prompt treatment cats can fully recover from this condition but remain at risk for a relapse. To avoid a urinary obstruction in your cat, provide bowls of water in different locations throughout your home and use different types of bowls, as well as a pet drinking fountain. Feeding canned food is also an excellent way to increase your cat’s water intake.

Urinary Tract Infections in Female Cats

Older female cats with other diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes are at risk for developing bacterial urinary tract infections. It is very rare for male cats to develop urinary tract infections due to their anatomy. Male cats are more likely to develop urinary obstructions, females are more likely to develop urinary infections.

Cats with urinary tract infections will enter their litter box and urinate small amounts of urine frequently and strain to urinate. Female cats may also choose to urinate in inappropriate places around the home.  To diagnose a urinary tract infection your veterinarian will perform a urinalysis and may culture the urine.  Most urinary tract infections will respond to appropriate antibiotics.  Because many cats with urinary tract infections have underlying diseases, your cat may require periodic evaluation of the urine to monitor for new infections.

Useful Links

Feline Idiopathic Lower Urinary Tract Disease in Cats – PetMD

IVG Newsletter – Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis

American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine



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