UTIs Are Rubbish for Your Cat, Too | How to Treat Cat UTIs · The Wildest

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UTIs Are Rubbish For Your Cat, Too

Here’s how to help them get relief

by Oneal Bogan, DVM
15 January 2024
White Persian cat on a blue background
SL photo / Adobe Stock

You might know the feeling of a urinary tract infection (UTI) firsthand: the burning, the straining, the attempting to pee to no avail. Even if you haven’t had one yourself (firstly, lucky you), the chances are you’ve heard someone somewhere complain about it. So, if your cat gets a UTI, you can probably feel their pain – but you may not know how to spot the signs in the first place.

Now’s a good time to learn: UTIs are one of the most commonly treated problems at a vet clinic. As both a vet and a cat parent, I can assure you that you’ll likely be dealing with this one day, and, much like cats themselves, UTI cases in cats can be complicated. The urinary tract is a complex and sensitive system, composed of various regions that can lead to the overproduction of bacteria in the urine.

In cats, there’s often more than one cause and each perpetrator needs to be dealt with in order for the infection to resolve. Below, I’ll break down why cats get UTIs, how to identify one and how you can help your kitty get some sweet relief.

Causes of UTIs in cats

Kidney disease

For normal urine production, cats first need functional kidneys. Kidneys are sensitive organs and can be damaged by high blood pressure, low oxygen, toxins and chronic ageing changes. If the kidneys aren’t functioning to their full potential, the concentration of the urine decreases – and bacteria have a field day, because they can thrive in diluted urine much more easily than in concentrated urine.


Moving along the urinary tract, we have the urinary bladder, which can also be the culprit for the urinary tract infection. The urinary bladder is basically a balloon, but a sensitive one. When cats become stressed, their urinary bladder can become inflamed and thickened, causing a condition called feline lower urinary tract disorder (FLUTD). 


Diet is another potential cause of a UTI. Certain diets can cause the urine to become too alkaline, again allowing bacteria to flourish because the acid levels in the urine are so low. Moving down, we have the urethra. The urethra can be a route for bacteria to travel up to the bladder – yet another cause of a UTI. Cats can’t catch a break.

Cat UTI symptoms

The symptoms of a cat UTI are not unlike your own: frequent urination, straining to pee and blood in urine. Weeing in places other than the litter box, staying in the litter box for much longer than usual and frequently weeing only tiny amounts (or worse, keeps trying to do a wee and can’t) are all classic signs of a cat UTI. Your cat may also cry out when peeing, and/or you may notice blood in their pee. Even without those advanced symptoms, a UTI should not be ignored. The sooner you take your cat to the vet, the sooner treatment can be started.

How to treat cat UTIs

In general, treatment is aimed at clearing the infection and is also focused on any other parts of the urinary tract that may be causing the bacteria to overproduce. For example, if there are urinary stones, a diet change may be recommended to dissolve the stones or surgery may be the best option for your cat to remove the stones more quickly. If your cat has FLUTD, environmental changes to reduce stress can help.

There are also several calming diets and products that promote a healthy urinary tract that may be recommended by your vet. Your vet may want to test kidney function, check X-rays for stones and check the urine for infection. Remember, the infection could involve the entire urinary tract, so just checking the urine for infection is only one step. 

Our final word on feline UTIs is this: it’s complicated. After all, we’re dealing with a whole system in the body, not a single organ. There could be many causes of a UTI, but most treatments are effective and will quickly help your cat feel much better. Hopefully you’ll be one of the lucky ones, and your cat will never have a malfunctioning urinary tract – but if you happen to find yourself in that situation, you’ll be able to come to their rescue.

Oneal Bogan, DVM

Oneal Bogan, DVM, is a mixed animal veterinarian from Colorado. Dr. Bogan loves the variety of animals she gets to work with. She owns her own mobile practice which provides at-home care to large and small animals. Dr. Bogan also works at a local small animal clinic. In her free time, Dr. Bogan loves to hike, ride horses, and read. She also loves writing and hopes her advice helps all pets live a happy, healthy life.

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