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
Feline urinary infection occurs much more frequently than cat owners would like to believe. Most of the time, the condition is idiopathic in nature, meaning that the infection has no known cause. And therefore symptoms like urinating out of the litter pan are usually assigned to behavioral causes like stress.
In fact, urinary tract infection in cats is more likely to be physiological in nature. It is part of a number of urinary problems including obstruction in the urinary passage and bladder inflammation commonly known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. It can be extremely painful to the cat as it strains to urinate but is unable to. Cat owners can be of great help if they know the reasons behind the condition and make sure that they follow some basic rules of caring for the pet.
To understand your pet better, you must understand that there is a natural reason why cats do not consume a lot of water. The evolution factor plays an important role in how animals meet their needs for maintaining life. Cats originated in desert areas and derived most of their requirement of water from food. The prey they hunted gave them enough water to sustain life. And this is the manner in which cats developed a natural aversion to drinking water separately on their own. Lack of water intake is, therefore, one of the major reasons behind the increased incidence of feline urinary tract infection.
While specific treatment depends upon the lab reports of urinalysis and other imaging investigations, you can try to prevent the condition by keeping the health of your cat’s urinary tract in proper condition.
- Water is of utmost importance
- Mix extra water if you are feeding your cat with dry cat food.
- You may want to add other fluids like chicken broth.
- Keep more water bowls around the house.
- Use bigger water bowls so that the cat’s whiskers do not touch the sides.
- If you can, try a free flowing water drinking fountain. Cats find this attractive and curiosity may
encourage them to drink water.
- Wash water bowls with clean water daily./li>
- If you are using detergents make sure there is no residue as the chemical in it can be harmful.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
Domesticated cats do not urinate at odd places just because they want to irritate their owners; rather, they spray at odd places to mark territory. It is an inherent behavioral pattern that they have retained from the times when they were required to do so to ensure survival and reproduction. Normally a cat will urinate on a flat surface such as the ground or in the litter box. However, when it is marking territory, it adopts a different method to do so by turning its backside to the object and spraying at nose level, which is an indicator to other cats to stay away. This specific behavior of cats can cause particular annoyance for the cat owners. Another aspect that is difficult to manage for the cat owner is feline urinary incontinence.
Cats have been living with humans for more than 9000 years now, after they were first domesticated in Egypt. Over the years, the relationship between humans and cats has assumed the status of a symbiotic social adaptation. Cats add pleasure to the lives of their owners. Proximity to human population, at the same time, has exposed cats to human ailments and infections that they did not have to confront in the wild. When a cat gets sick or stressed, it is most likely that the urinary tract gets infected. Incontinence is a direct outcome of urinary tract infection in cats.
If your cat is spraying excessively or is doing so at odd places, the first thing you should do is to consult a veterinarian. If you notice that your feline friend is straining or making odd, painful noises while urinating, it is a sure sign of prevalence of feline urinary infection. Stress is another factor that may result in a higher frequency of spraying. Stress factors may include introduction of new pets or changing homes.
The condition of the litter box may also be a reason why your cat is urinating at strange places. Cats prefer a clean litter box. It is even better if there is more than one in the house at lonely and secluded places. Make sure that you clean the litter box properly at least once a week. There may be a case of a particular litter box not being up to the cat’s standard. Cats, as most cat owners know, are pretty finicky.
Early spaying is no guarantee that a cat will not spray. The above factors remain relevant whether the cat is neutered or not. Abnormal urinary habits often result in the unfortunate decision to abandon the cat. Before you give up on the cat due to behavioral issues, try and rule out medical or other factors directly related to urination. Cat urine is very caustic by composition, and therefore while looking for treatment, keep cloth diapers, cleaners and gloves handy for cleaning carpets and furnishings.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
When all diagnostic procedures like urinalysis and imaging techniques fail in confirming a diagnosis in cats with urinary problems, the condition is termed as Idiopathic Lower Urinary Tract Disease. This condition is also known as Feline Interstitial Cystitis. It is in fact a diagnosis by exclusion of other conditions like presence of bladder stones. The symptoms that one generally observes in such cases are inappropriate urination without any urgency and increased frequency of urination. The result of the urinalysis is usually normal and the urine is sterile with occasional traces of blood. As no cause is evident, the symptoms are normally attributed to behavioral problems due to stress. However, it should be understood that it is a medical problem that falls under the general category of non-obstructive feline urinary tract infection.
It also needs to be understood that no medical cues are obvious in such cases. Even when some symptoms and cues surface, they are subtle in nature and evade normal observation. To identify such issues you may check the hair in the area around the abdomen. If it has been chewed it is probably an attempt to relieve the pain that the cat is experiencing. Sometimes there are verbal indications of pain when the abdomen is palpated.
A recent hypothesis suggests that Idiopathic Lower Urinary Tract Disease is caused by alterations in the interactions between the nerve supply, the protective layer that lines the bladder and the urine. The reason behind the explanation is supported by findings that reveal that certain nerves within the bladder can be stimulated by:
The brain in response to stress
By local causes within the bladder like inflammation or concentrated urine.
Irrespective of what stimulates the bladder nerves, they release certain neurotransmitters that induce local pain and neurogenic (stimulated by nerve tissue) inflammation.
Some defects in the protective layer that lines the inner walls of the bladder could also be the cause behind Idiopathic Interstitial Cystitis. The inner walls of the bladder are lined with a mucus layer that prevents bacteria and crystals from adhering to the bladder walls. Defect in this protective layer increases porosity, which allows noxious substances in the urine to cause bladder inflammation that leads to idiopathic feline urinary infection.
A strong similarity is seen between interstitial cystitis in humans and a cat. This has led some veterinarians to believe that the therapies used to treat this bladder disorder in humans, may also be effective for treating idiopathic urinary tract infection in cats.
Signs of idiopathic feline lower tract urinary disease normally vanish regardless of treatment. However, these infections are prone to recur frequently. Treatment modalities are thus focused on the prevention of subsequent recurrence of symptoms. Many diets that profess formulations meant for ‘urinary health’ may be able to prevent the formation of bladder stones. However, there is no evidence that these so called special diets have ever reduced the incidence of idiopathic feline lower urinary tract disease.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson,
Inappropriate urinary behavior in cats is normally associated with medical disorders like feline urinary infection. However, it is also true that many times it is a behavioral problem rather than a medical one. It is only after ruling out medical causes after complete blood and urine tests that one can unequivocally state the real cause of inappropriate urinary behavior.
What we consider as abnormal may actually be appropriate when seen from the cat’s perspective. Owners train and expect their cat to always urinate in the litter box but cats, especially feral cats, are prone to mark their territory by spraying. This could be as frequent as 6 to 10 times a day. When a cat is urinating to mark territory, it does so in a standing position with its tail in an erect position so that the urine hits a vertical surface. Some cats will do the same on carpets or beds as well but the difference is that this type of urination makes a spray (linear) pattern and does not form a pool.
Spraying is a behavioral urinary problem. It is also important to note that sometimes cats will urinate in a normal pool forming manner on high spots or a doorway to mark territory. This typical inconsistency makes it difficult to understand whether it is driven by natural cat behavior or a medical problem.
If there is a medical condition that is causing the problem, a cat is likely to spend more time in the litter pan without showing any substantial evidence of having actually passed any urine. Actually the cat may be straining to urinate but is probably unable to pass urine. This leads to a situation where the cat starts urinating small amounts at odd places. The straining effort is sometimes mistaken for the posture it uses for spraying to mark territory.
In most cases, feline urinary incontinence is caused due to stones that irritate the bladder lining. Unless any one of the above behaviors is clearly evident and noticed by owners, it is very hard to figure out the exact reason behind cat urinary problems. Blood in the urine is however a clear indicator of urinary tract infection in cats.
Prevalence of a medical condition can be confirmed with a urinalysis, complete blood count and chemistry panel. If obtaining a clean sample of urine is difficult, it is withdrawn directly from the bladder with the aid of a syringe. If the laboratory tests do not throw a clear picture, it is advisable to go for a recheck before sorting out the various behavioral causes behind cat urinary problems.
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 infections are a common problem with domesticated pets, especially cats and dogs. Cats, however, are less prone to UTI than dogs. Problems affecting the lower urinary tract in cats, termed by veterinarians as Feline Urologic Syndrome, are not a common disease in cats with less than 1% of the overall cat population being affected by them. However, veterinarians have to deal with urinary tract infection in cats and dogs on regular basis as nearly 10% of the cases they have to deal with relate to urologic disorders.
The most common cause of feline urinary tract disorders is urolithiasis, a condition where stones are formed from accumulation of crystals in the urinary tract. This condition can be severe and result in complete blockage of the urinary tract and prevent urination totally.
Most cats urinate the most at night when they are most active. The first sign of your cat having urinary tract infection is when it starts having litter box problems. The “litter” in the word “litter box” actually denotes fecal matter and not the substrate that pet owners line the box with.
Cats are very tolerant to pain and will eat, purr, and snuggle to attract your attention even while in pain. This behavioral pattern makes it all the more difficult as these could be demonstrations of out-of-cat-litter-box experiences signaling feline UTI. It is up to you to determine whether your cat has UTI or not. For this a fair understanding of the UTI symptoms in cats is necessary. To determine whether your pet cat has urinary tract infection or not, check out the following symptoms:
Pain while urinating, frequent urination, small or no urine at all, are among the first signs to look for.
Excessive grooming of genitals, crying while doing it and blood in urine are almost certainly symptoms of urinary infection in cats and dogs.
If your cat has stopped using its litter box and urinates outside of it, you can suspect the presence of UTI.
As urination becomes a painful exercise your cat will start associating it with the litter box and try to avoid it and urinate outside of it. If it does so, on a light colored surface, you can look for traces of blood and seek help for treating the disorder.
Medication for feline UTI is not very difficult to access. There is more than one option open to you. You may try homeopathic bladder infection treatment for canines and cats, or go in for herbal and natural remedies in case you do not want your pet cat to go through the agony of strong antibiotics, which more often than not, have dangerous side effects.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson,
It is a great fallacy that what is good for humans is sure to be good for our pets. Nutritional requirements are determined by the evolutionary processes and are not dependent on what is convenient to pet owners.
Most of the research that links diet to feline and canine urinary health suggests that diet can have an adverse effect on urine pH. Diet also plays an important role in determining urine volume and specific gravity. Less common medical disorders like feline urinary tract infection are now being noticed increasingly in companion cats, leading to a fair amount of frustration among cat owners. The development of this situation is now being attributed to the faulty choice of cat food.
Cats are obligate carnivores. They have evolved in such a manner that they derive most of their requirement of fluids from the moisture content of their prey (which contain nearly 65% to 75% of water). The natural diet of a cat gives them a very small amount of carbohydrates and the main source of carbohydrates is the one that is stored in the liver and other organs of the prey. This hardly comprises any significant percentage of the total weight of the prey. However, one look at the label of some of the cat foods available in the market will reveal to you that commercial dry foods sometimes contain as much as 45% of carbohydrates.
The three common types of cat foods available in the market are dry, moist or wet (canned). Dry foods frequently use cheap sources of calories like wheat, rice and corn to give them a semblance of a structure. Cereals are primarily a source of carbohydrates, a nutritional component that does not suit the constitution of cats. The cat liver is not very efficient at metabolizing carbohydrates and is more efficient in processing proteins and fats. Over consumption of carbohydrates often leads to storage, obesity and other clinical disorders.
Although the absence of moisture in dry cat foods can be addressed by adding water, they can still disturb urine pH, which is one of the leading causes behind feline urinary infection. Although all brands of commercial cat foods profess that their formulations meet the necessary nutritional requirements of a cat, most of them fail to recognize that even a slight deficiency can be detrimental to overall health, especially when the commercial food is being taken on regular basis. Moreover, the preservatives that are used to increase shelf life can interfere in the metabolic process and the elimination of wastes. Free flow of urine is extremely necessary to avoid urinary infection and bladder stones.
Commercial foods, whether dry, moist or wet are driven by motives like convenience and cost. Therefore, there is a tendency to compromise on the quality. The natural nutritional requirement of a cat can easily be met if you provide your cat with food that is as close to the original as possible. This would mean a significantly larger proportion of animal protein and fat as compared to grains and cereals. It also essential to provide enough water content in the diet to avoid urinary tract infection in cats.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
It is necessary to understand what the terms Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and Feline Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) mean. While UTI is an infection in the urinary passage, FLUTD is not a specific disease but a pattern of symptoms like bloody urine, straining to urinate, frequent urination and pain that has many causes. Lack of exercise and obesity in cats presents a higher risk of developing urinary problems. Some cats are too lazy to walk to the litter pan. Some others dislike sharing the litter pan with other cats. Such specific behaviors lead to a general unwillingness to urinate. Many times the litter pan is so dirty that a cat detests urination. If the bladder is not emptied regularly, it can lead to urinary tract infections in cats. It may also cause a host of other conditions that ultimately end up as making urination a painful experience.
There are many different causes of feline urinary infection. These include:
- Bacterial and Viral Infections: Urine is usually sterile in the bladder. The outside opening through which urine is passed out is also the route through which bacteria or viruses enter and travel up to the bladder and infect the urine.
- Bladder Stones: Improper diet that is high in mineral content leads to a situation where all minerals are not taken up by the digestive system. Mineral deposits gradually transform into crystals and later bind to form stones. The ensuing irritation often leads to inflammation and infection in the bladder. Cats that are fed kibble diets are more susceptible than those on canned or moist diets.
- Allergy: Some foods and environmental allergens can affect the bladder wall mucosa that protects the bladder from substances in the urine. This can cause cystitis, inflammation of the bladder and ureters.
- Idiopathic Cystitis: This is a recent observation and a very common type of urinary problem in cats. The cat has all the symptoms of a lower urinary tract disease but the tests, laboratory as well as imaging, do not reveal any known cause. Researchers are trying to find similarities between this condition and interstitial cystitis observed in humans (women) – a condition where there are hemorrhages in the bladder wall accompanied by excruciating pain. Similar hemorrhages are seen in cats. There is no known cause of interstitial cystitis in cats or humans.
Cats that drink a lot of water also urinate a lot. Lack of water intake is one of the primary causes of urinary tract infections in cats. A strong flow of urine is sufficient to eliminate pathogenic substances in the urine and also those clinging along the tract.
Courtesy of Tess Thompson, PetAlive.com
All over the world, plants used to be the main source of medicine. Through the ages, herbalists have passed down knowledge about the healing and restorative properties of plants.
The rise of modern Western medicine was initially accompanied by a decline in the practice of herbalism in all cultures and we came to believe that synthetic chemicals were the best medicines to treat illness and cure disease. Although many modern medicines made use of natural products as their main ingredients (quinine, morphine, codeine, aspirin, digitalis, penicillin, reserpine and ephedrine to name only a few), most Western people saw herbal medicines as ‘hocus pocus’ or, at best, an ‘old wives tale’. Few believed they could really work. The big pharmaceutical companies, who made lots of money from synthetic medicines, did not rush out to disprove this misconception.
More recently, however, many people have come to realize that modern medicine does not always hold all the answers. There has been a return to more natural, traditional ways of living. People are increasingly taking back responsibility for their own well-being and actively seeking out healthier and less stressful life styles.
This quest for a healthier lifestyle has meant that people are once again recognizing the healing powers of herbs. Even in the West, natural products are now widely available and herbalism is again coming into its own in a world which is becoming more health and environmentally conscious. While the therapeutic effects of many herbal remedies have now been scientifically validated, others are backed by strong traditional, historical and anecdotal evidence. Herbal remedies can work for you too – without many of the unpleasant side effects of modern medicines! In fact, there needs to be no animosity or competition between herbalists and modern allopathic medicines. They both have their place and have much to learn from each other.
Throughout the ages, Africa has had a strong tradition of herbal medicine. It is a continent rich in plant diversity. In South Africa alone, for example, there are more than 30 000 species of flowering plants, representing almost 10% of the entire world’s higher plants. It is also a continent which is historically rich in links with ancient trading partners like China, India and Europe. More recently, colonial activity in Africa has meant that there has been a strong influence from the modern Western world on African culture and traditions. Indigenous African medicine is therefore dynamic and multi-faceted, often incorporating the best of many cultures in its knowledge base. In most African countries today, indigenous African medicine is alive and well. In addition to indigenous herbal medicine, due to its rich cultural heritage, Africa is fortunate to have access not only to Western allopathic medicine, but also to Western and Australian herbalism, Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathy.
In the ‘Lenaka’ – the medicine chest of the African herbalist – one can therefore find herbs from all over the world, each carefully chosen for its potency in treating different ailments and conditions. In Africa, large sectors of the population still rely mainly on herbs for their day-to-day medicinal needs and one can find herbs sold on the street and in marketplaces throughout Africa. Plants are used in spiritual, ritual, symbolic and medicinal ways to cure illness, promote health, wealth and happiness and to communicate with the spirit world.
African herbalists are highly respected men or women, who are called by their ancestors to be healers. They may often be the spiritual leaders in their communities and undergo a rigorous period of training and initiation in which the rich oral traditions are passed down from generation to generation. Traditional healers are highly trained and are called ‘inyanga’, isangoma’, ‘ixwele’, amaquira’, ‘nqaka’, ‘kruiedokter’ ‘bossiedokter’ and many other names, depending on the area they live in or the language group and tribe to which they belong.
Now in your backyard – Herbal Remedies that Work!
Most indigenous remedies in Africa are sold and used in their raw form or in the form of homemade teas and infusions. Now, Native Remedies Inc. has joined forces with Michele Carelse, a Clinical Psychologist, experienced in the use of healing herbs to bring you the richness of the African healing tradition in modern form. Manufactured according to the highest pharmaceutical standards, each complex and potent remedy has been especially chosen to safely and effectively treat a range of conditions, including acne, impotence, arthritis, PMS, UTI and bladder infections, depression, anxiety, menopause, ADHD and chronic headaches. We also have powerful remedies to help with weight loss and to improve sexual performance.
You want your pet to have the same medical benefits as you do.
As they grew to know and trust our range of natural remedies for children and adults, our Native Remedies customers began asking for solutions especially designed for their pets. As treasured members of their families, our customers wanted their pets to have the same benefits and natural solutions as they had discovered in Native Remedies.
In many cases, our natural remedies for humans were used with great effect for the pets in the family and, as time went on, we could no longer ignore the need for remedies especially designed and formulated for pets, with pet friendly doses and remedies which could be easily administered to dogs and cats.
Out of this was born PetAlive – a range of herbal, homeopathic and nutraceutical remedies to help with a variety of ailments commonly experienced by pets.
Just as for people, treatment for typical conditions can often be safer and more effective with the use of herbal and homeopathic treatments, avoiding the often debilitating effects of pharmaceutical medications.
In fact, we firmly believe that the best approach to treatment may be a combination of traditional medicine, herbal/homeopathic remedies, and always due attention to lifestyle – healthy eating, sleeping and exercise habits.
Above all, we urge you to take a sensible, balanced approach to healing yourself or your pets – always consult your physician or, for your pets, your veterinarian; develop a healthy lifestyle; and use our herbal remedies as directed.