If your cat has been urinating frequently, urinating outside the litter box, dribbling urine, or meowing in pain during urination, he or she probably has a urinary tract infection, or UTI. In order to keep the problem from getting worse (the infection can spread into the kidneys and become life-threatening), it's important to seek the proper treatment for your cat – and also to take action to prevent subsequent UTIs.
How are UTIs treated?
If you suspect your cat has a UTI, you must take him or her to the vet. Your vet will conduct an analysis of the urine in order to determine which species of bacteria is causing the infection. E. coli and various staph species are common, but there are other bacteria that can cause a UTI, too. Based on the type of bacteria detected, your vet will recommend an antibiotic. Typically, this will be administered orally. You'll need to feed it to your cat on a daily basis (or perhaps twice per day, depending on the antibiotic.)
If the UTI is more severe, your vet might administer IV antibiotics to your cat initially. Then, you will need to follow up with oral antibiotics at home. It's important, whether IV antibiotics are used or not, to continue giving the oral antibiotics for as long as your vet recommends. Stopping treatment early, even if your cat appears to be better, may cause the infection to return.
How do you prevent future UTIs?
Cats often develop UTIs because they are not getting enough fluid. There are a few ways you can increase their fluid intake to help prevent future infections:
- Switch from a dry cat food to a wet one
- Moisten your cat's dry food with a little water or chicken broth before feeding
- Ensuring your cat has a water dish he or she enjoys drinking from. Many cats will drink more from a constantly running, fountain-style bowl.
Sometimes, cats become susceptible to UTIs because they are consuming too much sugar. The sugar alters the pH balance of the urinary tract, making it more hospitable to bacteria. Make sure the food you're feeding your cat is low in carbohydrates. There are foods made specifically for cats who are prone to UTIs, and these are likely good choices. Talk to your vet if you're not sure which food to purchase. Also, avoid feeding your cat milk. The lactose sugar it contains is also appealing to the bacteria that cause UTIs.
To learn more, contact an animal hospital like 1st Pet Veterinary Centers.