Feline urinary disease has several underlying causes, including:
· Urinary tract infections (UTIs) which are caused by bacteria or microorganisms that cause inflammation and discomfort in the urinary tract. Common symptoms include peeing outside the litter box, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and straining in the litter box (strainguria) without producing anything.
· Bladder stones or crystals can form in the bladder or urethra, causing blockages and inflammation.
· Urethral obstructions (more common in male cats) occur when the urethra becomes blocked, making it difficult or impossible for the cat to urinate.
· Cystitis is a condition where the urinary bladder becomes inflamed and painful generally resulting in straining to urinate or blood in the urine (hematuria). This condition is caused by a variety of factors such as a UTI, stress, and dietary imbalances.
· Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is a condition where the urinary bladder is chronically inflamed creating UTI-like symptoms.
· Tumors in the urinary bladder or kidneys cause urinary tract disease.
There is much debate about what causes feline urinary disease and how to treat it. A popular theory is to avoid the use of antibiotics if a there isn’t a positive bacteria culture, however, this practice can lead to early feline kidney disease suggesting that antibiotic therapy is a useful approach even if a culture is negative. Undetectable microorganisms and bacteria in the kidneys are sometimes missed by culture analysis.
Pain management and steroids are often used to control cystitis reactions.
Stress factors are shown to play a large role in urinary disease in cats. New England Cat Care recommends the following for creating a comfortable environment for your cat:
· Litter boxes should be cleaned twice a day. You need one litter box per cat plus one. For example, if you have one cat you should have two litter boxes. The boxes need to be in the same place, not spread out around your home.
· Adapt litter box location as your cat ages so that they're closer in proximity to where your cat spends most of their time. Older cats have a difficult time going downstairs.
· Provide fresh water in a large bowl twice a day. Water fountains are also favored by most cats.
· Do not feed “cheap” cat food. Invest in high quality food with whole grains and protein sources like chicken. Low quality food encourages urinary bladder disease as they cause pH imbalance in the urinary bladder, which can lead to inflammation and crystals.
· Offer enrichment in your cat’s environment like widow seats, cat trees, toys, and scratching posts. Boredom causes anxiety in cats, which can lead to urinary imbalances due to stress reactions.
· Monitor urinary output. Most cats urinate 2-3 times a day; if you notice the urine clumps getting larger, smaller, more frequent, or less, contact your veterinarian immediately.
· Monitor your cat’s drinking. If your cat is drinking more water than usual, contact your veterinarian.
· Strongly consider adding other pets like other cats and dogs to your household if you have a resident cat(s). While having more pets is fun for you, you need to be mindful about the sudden change in your cat’s life. The stress from new pets can create permanent behavior problems that often manifest as urinary bladder disease.
Always contact your veterinary immediately if your cat is displaying any signs of urinary discomfort. The longer symptoms persist, the more challenging it becomes to control the associated inflammation that causes pain. Furthermore, urinary disease will damage kidney function causing kidney disease. Prevention and quick management of urinary symptoms is the key to fully resolving the problem quickly for your cat.