Cats are known to be independent, but they still rely on their humans to notice when something’s wrong with them to get the care they need. One of those things is noticing when your cat is using the litter box more often than normal. This can indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI) in your cat, and may require veterinary attention.
Read on to learn more about the causes and signs of a UTI, how to treat it, and how much it may cost at the veterinarian.
What Causes a Cat UTI?
If you’re wondering, “How do cats get UTIs?,” you’re not alone. UTIs are caused by bacteria that originates in either the gastrointestinal tract or the reproductive tract, and they’re considered an uncommon health issue in cats.1 UTIs typically affect senior cats and can be indicative of another underlying health issue like pancreatitis or diabetes.2
UTI Symptoms in Cats
While UTIs are uncommon in cats, urinary issues in general are common and can show similar symptoms.3 A vet’s diagnosis will confirm whether your cat is experiencing a true UTI or a urinary tract disorder like feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), but there are a few signs you can look out for:1
- Frequent trips to the litter box
- Urinating outside of the litter box
- Straining to urinate
- Painful urination
- Bladder stones
- Bloody urine
These symptoms look different depending on your cat’s individual behaviors, as well as the age and sex of your cat. Female and male cat UTI symptoms look similar, but female cats have shorter urethras than males. This means that female cats may be more likely to suffer from UTIs as a result.
Unfortunately, UTIs in male cats can be fatal within just a few hours, so it’s crucial to treat it as an emergency and get your cat veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms.4
Diagnosing a Cat UTI
UTIs and FLUTDs often have similar symptoms, so it’s best to bring your cat to the vet to get a diagnosis and identify the issue before it gets worse. Your vet will typically collect a urine sample through cystocentesis, which is drawn with a needle directly from the bladder to avoid contamination.4 With the sample, they can conduct a urinalysis. A urinalysis will help determine the concentration of your cat’s urine, the amount of waste and blood present in the urine, as well as other factors that can lead to a UTI diagnosis.3
After the urinalysis, your vet will spin the sample to separate and test the debris. This will help them identify the presence of bacteria and urine crystals that can be indicative of a UTI.3 Once your vet identifies the bacteria that’s to blame, they’ll be able to determine how to treat your cat’s UTI.
If your cat is diagnosed with a UTI, your vet will likely prescribe two medications: an antibiotic to treat the infection and pain medicine to help your cat manage the infection more comfortably as they recover.3 Your vet may also recommend a canned food or bland diet to prevent any stress on their urinary tract.4 Most cats will recover in about a week, but others may experience recurring UTIs after their first diagnosis. If this happens, your vet may recommend preventative measures.4
How to prevent future cat UTIs
There are no home remedies that are a cure-all for cat UTIs, but your vet may have recommendations to help lower your cat’s chances of getting a UTI in the future. Depending on your cat’s age, diet, and overall health, your vet may recommend dietary changes or increased exercise.
Cat UTI Costs and How Pet Insurance Can Help
From diagnosis to treatment, a UTI can be a costly trip to the vet for your cat. Depending on the severity of your cat’s condition, the cost for a diagnosis and treatment for a basic infection vary widely from $150 to thousands of dollars.5 Your cat may need additional care if they have blockages from bladder stones or other underlying conditions, which significantly adds to the overall cost.5
If you have a senior cat or a cat with underlying health concerns, cat insurance may be a worthwhile investment before a UTI becomes a pre-existing condition. Unexpected expenses can be hard on your wallet, but MetLife Pet Insurance can help alleviate the cost of covered expenses like hospitalizations and surgeries associated with illnesses.6 Get your free quote to learn more.
We Can Help Cover Vet Bills While You Focus on Your Cat’s Care
1 “Cat Urinary Tract Infections: Causes & Recovery,” Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital
2 “How To Recognize Your Cat May Have A Urinary Tract Infection,” Blue Cross Veterinary Hospital
3 ”Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Cats,” VCA Animal Hospitals
4 “UTIs in Cats (Urinary Tract Infections in Cats),” PetMD
5 “What’s the Price of Cat Urinary Treatment? (Costs in 2023),” Excited Cats
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