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Understanding urinary tract issues in cats

header image of a ginger cat

Cats can experience urinary tract issues which can lead to house soiling. This is the top reason older cats are surrendered to the Humane Society of Utah. In addition, cats that develop urinary tract infections can sometimes suffer from endocrine diseases, including hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus. 

Often the former guardians are unaware of the urinary tract issues, and it isn’t until they are in our care that they find out. Luckily, some families are willing to reunite with their beloved feline friends once they are informed and a treatment plan has been implemented. 

The most common symptoms of urinary tract infection in cats include: 

  • urinating small amounts more frequently
  • straining to urinate
  • pain or discomfort when urinating
  • not urinating at all
  • urinating around the house (outside the litter box)
  • passing urine tinged with blood (pinkish color urine) 
  • sudden-onset fear of the litter box
  • lethargy
  • vomiting 

If your feline friend is exhibiting any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Here are our tips for maintaining your cat’s urinary health

cat drinking out of a fountain

Increasing your cat’s water intake is one of the most important steps toward keeping their urinary tract healthy. Keeping your cat well-hydrated means they will urinate more frequently which will flush out toxins and maintain healthy kidney function. In addition, a higher urine water content dilutes the toxins, minerals, and urinary irritants that can lead to problems like crystals and urinary stones.

Our first tip is always to provide fresh water. Cats often prefer fresh or running water, which is why you often see them trying to drink straight from the faucet. Many cat bowls today come with a fountain option. 

Second, incorporate wet food into your cat’s diet. Wet food holds more moisture than dry and easily adds water to a cat’s intake.  

Third, if your cat has had previous urinary health problems, they will likely benefit from a urinary diet. These formulas contain specific amounts of minerals, protein, and bladder protectants to help maintain a healthy urinary tract. Urinary diets have restricted amounts of minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium which can contribute to urinary crystals and stone formation. 

Talk with your veterinarian if you think your cat may benefit from a urinary diet. These prescription bags of food often cost about the same as most high-end cat food brands.

Fourth, avoid stressful environments for your feline friend. Cats are sensitive to environmental stressors, which have been linked to inappropriate elimination and feline UTIs. Eliminating simple stressors and providing an escape when your cat is fearful or anxious can keep her urinary tract healthy. 

Cat in a litter box

Lastly, keep your cat’s litter box clean daily and avoid harsh-smelling litters that are heavily scented. These types of cat litter may smell better to us but are often offensive to our feline friends.  

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