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