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Urinary tract infection in cats

In cats under 10 years of age, urinary tract infections are relatively uncommon. It is more common in older cats but it is still rare, especially when compared to other causes that may be behind a cat's urinary symptoms. However, urinary tract infections do occur in cats and if a urinary tract infection is suspected, it is important to go to the vet so that the cat can be properly examined and receive appropriate treatment.

A urinary tract infection in cats occurs when bacteria have the opportunity to attach to the urinary tract, usually via ascending infection. The urinary bladder is normally sterile so there should be no bacteria in it. If bacteria get in, an infection can occur, the bladder wall can become inflamed which can be painful in cats, especially when they try to urinate.

Urinary tract infection is more uncommon in male cats but can occur more often in female cats. It is not always the case that if bacteria get into the bladder that they cause an infection, usually the cat's local defence system is quite good at to deal with the bacteria before they take hold and an infection develops but if you suspect your cat has a urinary tract infection, the cat should be taken to the vet for an examination.

In the case of a urinary tract infection in cats, the symptoms are similar to other urinary complaints they may have. The cat will go to the box more often than usual and try to urinate even though little or nothing comes out. Sometimes they may urinate outside the box or in other places around the house and it is not uncommon for them to pee all the time, partly because of the urinary urgency they are experiencing. It is often painful for the cat to urinate and there may sometimes be blood when urinating. Another thing to be aware of is that the urine may smell bad. At times, the general condition may be impaired, the cat may develop a fever, eat less well and show symptoms of abdominal pain.

To see if the cat has a urinary tract infection, a urine sample needs to be taken and analysed. At the vet's, a urine sample is taken either via a catheter or a puncture through the abdomen into the bladder, the latter often done by ultrasound. The sample is then analysed and cultured, especially if bacteria are found in a so-called urine sediment, so that any bacteria are found and you can find out what type is growing and what type of antibiotic to use for the cat according to the resistance test.

In case of urinary tract infection in cats, they are treated with a course of antibiotics but if the cat should get repeated urinary tract infections, it is important that the underlying cause is investigated as a recurrent infection may be due to other diseases, such as urinary stones, kidney problems or tumours.

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