The urinary system

Bladder and kidney problems are common affections of dogs and cats

The feline urinary trac syndrom

Cats often suffer from urinary tract disorders that are wrongly referred to as urinary tract infections. Several causes can explain these disorders affecting the bladder. Although an infection can be the cause of the problem, irritation of the bladder is more often caused by crystals that can ultimately be organized into stones. We therefore prefer to speak of feline urinary tract syndrome because the symptoms associated with the different causes are the same.

The most common causes of Feline urinary tract syndrome are:

  • The presence of urinary crystals, a form of microscopic sand in the urine: Different types of urinary crystals can be found in the urine of a cat. The most common types are struvites (more often in young cats) and calcium oxalates (more often in cats 8 years and older).
  • The presence of bladder stones: They are usually formed when the urinary crystals persist for too long in the bladder without being treated.
  • A urinary infection, the development of bacteria in the urine: It can occur by itself or can accompany one of the other causes.
  • General inflammation of the bladder wall: This inflammation is not accompanied by bacteria, crystals or stones and is mainly related to stress.

The symptoms observed during feline urinary tract syndrom are:

  • The presence of blood in the urine: It is sometimes microscopic, therefor not visible to the naked eye.
  • Going back and forth to the litter box
  • A production of smaller amounts of urine at a time
  • Urination outside of the litter box: Your cat usually associates pain with his litter box.

These symptoms are associated with the inflammation of the bladder caused by one or more of the above-mentioned causes. It is therefore very important for us to carry out certain tests such as urine analysis and x-rays in order to correctly target the cause of the problem and thus, be able to correctly treat the problem. It is also important to consult as soon as possible at the onset of symptoms. Some cats (especially males) may possibly suffer from urinary blockage if the situation persists for too long.  When the situation gets to this point, it is impossible for a cat to evacuate its urine. This represents a veterinary emergency because cats can die in a few days without the appropriate treatment.

The treatment of urinary tract syndrome obviously depends on the cause. In order to treat the symptoms, we will often use: 

  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Antibiotics 
  • A veterinary prescription diet to eliminate the crystals in the urine
  • A surgery (cystotomy) to remove stones from the bladder

Medication is usually only prescribed for a limited time. However, in order to eliminate and prevent crystals in the urine, a prescribed preventative diet is required for the rest of a cat's life. A good diet will prevent the formation of crystals in the urine, as they are often formed when certain minerals resulting from the food aggregate together in the bladder. Although a genetic predisposition is one of the causes of the problem, proper nutrition and healthy habits can stop crystal formation and prevent recurrence of the feline urinary tract syndrome. 

Do not hesitate to contact us if you think your cat is suffering from feline urinary tract syndrome or simply to ask us for advice on your cat's nutrition and help prevent development of problems. 

For more tips about preventing feline urinary tract syndrome, check out our blog on the subject!