The urinary system is an organ system that is comprised of the kidneys, two ureters, bladder and the urethra. This system manages the production, storage and elimination of urine in a mammal. The fluid status in the body determines the rate at which the kidney will need to function and the production of urine. The urine is passed through a pair of thick-walled tubes called ureters and reaches the bladder. The bladder is a hollow muscular organ, shaped like a balloon. It stores urine.
The end point of the urinary tract is the urethra. It emerges from the end of the penis in males and between the clitoris and vagina in females. This is the part of the urinary tract system from where urine is eliminated from the body. In common parlance, the urinary tract is understood as the tract that extends from the urethra only up to the bladder and referred to as lower urinary tract. This is so because the ureters are rarely affected due to a urinary infection. The kidneys on the other hand can be affected due to causes other than urinary infection and are covered under a medical stream called nephropathy.
Although urine contains a variety of liquids, salts and waste products, it is normally sterile and does not have bacteria in it. When bacteria get into the bladder or kidney and multiply in the urine, they cause urinary tract infections in cats. In cats urinary infections are not as common as they are in dogs. However, the incidence of urinary infection in cats is increasing. The most common form of feline urinary tract infection is cystitis, usually known as bladder infection.
The most prominent symptoms of urinary infection in cats include:
Frequent urination often out of the litter pan. This should not be confused with spraying that cats indulge in to mark territory.
Discomfort or pain during urination.
The cat strains to urinate but is unable to empty its bladder.
Blood in urine, normally a sign of prevalence of bladder stones or tumor or severe urinary infection.
Cloudy or foul smelling urine.
Sometimes increased thirst.
Feline urinary incontinence, an inability to hold urine or involuntary urination.
These symptoms of feline urinary infection can surface accompanied or unaccompanied with inflammation. Bladder infections are highly localized and rarely produce any symptoms of infection. This means that there is no fever and no loss of appetite. Even the blood tests do not reveal any prevalence of infection.
The urine in the bladder is sterile but the genital area from where the urine is expelled is usually abundantly filled with pathogenic bacteria. The urinary tract gets infected when bacteria from here travel upwards and are able to defeat the natural defenses of the urinary system like the forward urine flow, the bladder lining and inhospitable urine chemicals. The female urethra is much smaller than the male organ, which makes female cats more prone to urinary infections.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
Abnormal cat behavior is usually associated with psychological stress as cats are highly emotional creatures that react to environmental changes very quickly. At the same time odd behaviors can also result from an underlying disorder or infection. For example, if your cat suddenly develops a dislike for her litter box and urinates at odd places, more likely than not it is the first sign of an infection in the lower urinary tract.
High frequency and difficulty in urination are the most prominent signs of feline urinary infection. The cat feels the urge but is not able to empty the bladder and is able to pass out only small amounts at a time, usually accompanied with severe pain. It perceives the litter box to be the cause of discomfort and starts avoiding it.
Urinary tract infections can also be caused by bladder stones that obstruct the urinary passage. This leads to feline urinary incontinence problems – a situation where the bladder is full but the obstruction does not let the urine pass easily. However, the urine somehow finds its way through the obstruction and leaks out involuntarily causing incontinence.
As an owner there are three steps that you should take to rule out urinary tract infection in cats.
Check the cat’s urine on the floor and look for signs of crystals or blood in it.
Try to feel the bladder through the stomach. If the bladder is full, the pet is sure to shriek or flinch with pain.
Get the pet evaluated from a veterinarian to be doubly sure.
There can be other reasons behind the symptoms and a complete check up will reveal all and lead to a proper mode of treatment that should be followed. Urinary infections respond very well to antibiotics. However, if there is a prevalence of bladder stones, the veterinarian may suggest dietary modifications in the diet or surgery. You have another treatment option in herbs and herbal antibiotics. Alternative medicines like homeopathy also have some very effective remedies for urinary tract infection.
Urinary tract infection in dogs is more common than in cats. Recurrence of bladder infection and stones is also seen more prevalent in dogs than in cats. Despite this, if your cat has once been diagnosed for infection in the lower urinary tract, it is advisable to take precautions with simple home care measures.
- Make sure you feed your cat with a diet that is not conducive to formation of bladder stones. If struvite stones are of concern, the diet should promote formation of acidic urine.
- Provide enough clean water at all times.
- Put more than one litter box. If you have more than one cat in the house, put one extra litter box.
- Feed small meals more frequently.
- Get the cat’s urine examined on a regular basis.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
Urinary tract infection is a name given to a group of symptoms that occur due to inflammation, irritation or obstruction of the urinary tract. It is usually related to the lower urinary tract that is comprised of the urinary bladder, urethra and penile urethra. Although the kidneys that produce urine are part of the urinary system, they are usually considered to be a part of another field of medicine and are dealt with separately.
Feline urinary infection can affect any of the organs along the urinary tract. Bladder infection and cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder) are among the most common diseases of the lower feline urinary tract. Infection is mostly bacterial in nature but inflammation can occur without infection too. Treatment of the urinary tract infection in cats normally depends upon the underlying cause and the severity of the infection.
A simple infection is usually treated with an antibiotic course. A urinalysis is done to determine the bacterium that has caused the infection. This helps in choosing the correct antibiotic that should be administered to fight the harmful bacteria. Although the symptoms start to show some results in two days, it is recommended that the full course of antibiotics be completed. This is necessary to ensure complete removal of the bacteria and to avoid a recurrence of the disease. To be doubly sure that the infection has been totally eradicated, a urine sample is cultured again after five days of completing the treatment.
There is a strong correlation between bladder stones and urinary infection. Sometimes bladder stones form due to excessive mineral deposits in the urine, which leads to inflammation and eventually an infection of the bladder. Just as stones can also cause urinary infection, they can also be a result of urinary infection. Certain types of stones can only be removed through surgery while some can be dissolved by changing the diet of the cat.
Even when infection has been clearly identified and is being treated, a pet owner should be observant about signs of blood in the urine. Such a symptom can indicate the prevalence of a tumor in the bladder. Bladder tumors that grow in the neck of the bladder often get infected and blood in the urine is also a strong indication of a cancer that may be developing inside.
The matter of urinary tract infection does not end here. In cases where the immune system of the cat has been adversely affected, there are chances that the urinary infection may ascend into the kidneys. If a kidney infection is suspected, the antibiotic course may last for four to six weeks. If the results of urinalysis show a bladder infection, there is an alternative to prescription drugs. Alternative medicine is considered to be more effective than conventional drugs. You can choose between herbal antibiotics and homeopathic remedies, both of which are based on natural substances and devoid of side effects.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
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Urinary tract infection in cats and dogs is a serious problem, often leading to serious repercussions if not treated in time. There is, however, a different approach to the entire matter of pet-UTI, as more and more veterinarians are adopting a holistic approach and using herbal and homeopathic bladder infection treatment for canines and cats to resist infection and correct imbalances in the body that allow bacteria to thrive.
When it comes to home remedies, you naturally want to know more about them in order to lend a helping hand to your cat to avoid the trauma of having to go through UTI.
You can help your pet in many ways by taking recourse to the following simple methods.
Pain Relief: Among remedies in homeopathic bladder treatment for canines and cats, cantharis is used for pain relief. It is very useful for pets who are straining to urinate. Dosages of two to three pellets twice or thrice a day, which will be easily absorbed by the pet’s mucous membranes, will relieve pain.
Control Infection: Cranberry juice, that is, pure cranberry juice and not formulations that contain synthetic elements, controls infection by stopping bacteria from adhering to the surface of the bladder and also acidifies the urine.
Increase Body Strength: Vitamin C is a natural anti inflammatory and strengthens the lining of the bladder. Depending upon the weight of your pet, you can administer a dose of 250mg to 500mg twice a day. However, vitamin C is known to cause diarrhea and it is important to arrive at the correct dosage by trial and error so that you know how much your pet’s bowels can tolerate.
Stick to Chemical Free Diet: Many commercial pet foods contain harmful chemical additives, preservatives, and artificial colors that weaken the pet’s immune system. Instead, home cooked food is the best to reduce the risk of body imbalances and minimize the chance of infection.
Fluids: To ensure that your cat’s bladder is emptied regularly in order to flush out bacteria, it is imperative that your pet has sufficient quantity of fluids. However, you cannot force your pet to drink. The better way is to resort to moist foods and dipping dry foods in some water or chicken broth.
Clean Water: Chemicals in some drinking waters make animals avoid drinking, which in turn, results in thickening of urine. Thickened urine hinders regular emptying of the bladder. This makes them more prone to developing UTI. Filtered water or spring water will go a long way in encouraging your pet to urinate and reduce the risk of urinary tract infection in cats and dogs.
In addition, simple methods like providing your cat adequate opportunities to urinate will ensure that his bladder gets emptied at regular intervals; it will encourage your pet to urinate and that is an integral part of its health. Moreover, females that have been spayed early tend to develop loose tissue that lets urine pool around the urethra. The female urethra is small which makes it easier for bacteria to travel up to the bladder quickly. Wiping your cat’s bottom frequently will help in tackling this situation effectively.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
Lower urinary tract infections in cats may be obstructive or non-obstructive.
Obstructive infections are caused when crystals comprised of minerals bind together. These minerals are those that are not absorbed by the digestive system. Small crystalline stones form in the urethral passage and prevent the free flow of urine. Since the urine is being produced by the kidneys it accumulates in the bladder due to the blockage. An accumulation of urine causes numerous symptoms that include feline urinary incontinence.
The treatment of obstructive infections depends largely upon the status of the disease.
Some types of stones are amenable to medical dissolution. In such cases, medication or special diets help in clearing the occlusion.
Where medical dissolution is not possible, an effort is made to flush out the stone with diuretics and by increasing the intake of fluids. Antibiotics are administered for treating the accompanying UTI.
Major obstructions may require catheterization, which involves inserting a catheter through the urethra for dislodging the stone and emptying the bladder. The catheter may be left in place for several days for better results.
Sometimes the obstruction can be life threatening. In such cases the stones may need to be removed surgically.
Male cats that are prone to recurrent bladder stones and the consequent blockage may require surgical enlargement of the urethra.
Non-obstructive urinary tract infection in cats can be caused due to various reasons and the treatment modalities are also different for each.
A small bladder can be one of the reasons for Non-obstructive urinary tract infection. Though seen in a small minority of cats, it is characterized by an urge to urinate with very little or no urine actually passing out. The treatment principles in such a case are similar to those used for obtrusive infections, albeit without the need to remove the obstruction.
Sometimes, the cause of a urinary infection can be unknown (idiopathic). Idiopathic Interstitial Cystitis is the most common type of urinary tract infection in dogs and cats. It is generally believed that it is a reaction of the immune system that causes painful inflammatory lesions in the bladder. Cats with idiopathic UTI are normally wrongly diagnosed as having behavioral problems since the urinalysis usually does not reflect any infection. The treatment in such instances is done by increasing fluid intake. There are suggestions that antidepressants may relieve bladder inflammation and the pain associated with the condition. There is no authentic data to support this at this stage.
The veterinary use of some other therapies approved for humans is still not fully verified and only supported by anecdotal evidence. Normally non-obstructive lower urinary tract infection in cats tends to remit and recur on its own in most of the cats regardless of medical intervention.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson,