For the love of your pet: When you cat can't 'go'

By Shana Bohac
Jan. 2, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

My cat was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. How can I prevent this from happening again?

Feline lower urinary tract disease is a disease that results from inflammation of the bladder and/or the urethra. It may occur because of partial or complete obstruction of the urinary tract. Complete urinary tract obstructions or blockages are life-threatening and require immediate treatment. This condition is usually because of the presence of small crystals in the urine.

The exact cause of feline lower urinary tract disease is unknown and may be because of several different causes. Age, sex, obesity, diet, stress and urine pH all contribute to the development of the disease. During stressful periods, the immune system may be weakened, allowing bacteria to grow quickly.

Signs that you may see include spending long periods squatting and possibly straining to urinate, continuously digging holes and acting like they need to urinate, passing only small amounts of urine, frequent attempts to urinate, vocalization during urination, blood-tinged urine and/or urination outside of the litter box. If your pet is completely blocked, you may also see lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, painful abdomen and/or swollen lower abdomen.

Treatment of feline lower urinary tract disease includes analysis of urine. This is required to actually confirm a diagnosis of the disease. Your veterinarian will look for white blood cells, blood, glucose, protein and other things in the urine. A cat with feline lower urinary tract disease will typically have white blood cells and possibly even blood in its urine. In some cases, X-rays and blood work may be performed. X-rays will check for stones in the bladder or urethra, which require surgical removal.

Antibiotics are a key treatment if a true infection is found. If your cat is producing crystals, then a prescription diet to reduce crystal formation may be suggested.

Your pet's urine will need to be rechecked occasionally to make sure the diet is still effectively eliminating the crystal. Your cat may need to be on this diet for life if it is continuing to work. If the bladder is blocked, the urethra may need to be flushed out with a catheter and the urine allowed to drain out. Intravenous fluids are typically given followed by hospitalization and observation.

There are some steps that you can take to reduce the occurrence of lower urinary tract problems. You can feed small meals on a frequent basis as well as provide clean, fresh water at all times. It is also very important to keep the litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house. You will also want to keep litter boxes clean. If you have more than one cat in the household. you will need to provide an adequate number of litter boxes.

Dr. Shana Bohac has a veterinary practice at Hill crest Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to



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