The urinary system involves the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra and has several important functions. It rids a cat’s body of waste products created when food is transformed into energy and it maintains the correct balance of water and electrolytes. It also produces erythropoietin and rennin – hormones that help maintain healthy blood pressure, produce blood cells, process vitamin D, and absorb salt correctly.
The most common type of urinary infection is bacterial and these develop when bacteria enters the body through the urethra and move to the bladder and occasionally to the kidneys. A urinary tract infection can prevent the bladder from emptying correctly or may even cause a fatal blockage of the urethra, the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body. In addition to urinary flow, sugar in the urine (a sign of diabetes), age, and a poor immune system can contribute to infection. Left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure.
Bacterial cystitis is the inflammation and infection of the bladder due to bacteria. Infections are common in older cats with a poor immune system and in cats that may have feline leukemia virus, feline immune deficiency virus, diabetes, or thyroid problems. Signs of a bladder infection include frequent or difficult urination, and urinating in inappropriate places (not using the litter box).
Kidney Infections (Pyelonephritis)
This is a bacterial infection that affects the kidneys and is caused most often by kidney or ureter stones that inhabit proper urine flow. This condition can affect very young and very old cats with a poor immune system or as well as those whose kidneys are unable to balance the amount of water in the urine. Signs of a kidney infection include fever, pain in the area around the kidneys, vomiting, excessive thirst, and frequent urination.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Infections (FLUTD)
This disorder is sometime called feline urologic syndrome (FUS). FLUTD affects the urinary system, bladder, cystitis, and urolithiasis. Some factors that contribute to the condition are viral infections, poor diet, and stress. It is particularly dangerous in male cats because their urethra is long and narrow.
Symptoms May Include:
• painful urination
• inability to urinate or passing only a small amount of urine
• bloody or cloudy urine
• loss of bladder control or dribbling of urine
• increased volume and/or frequency of urination
• straining and/or crying out in pain when passing urine
• soiling in inappropriate places
• constant licking of genitals
• strong odor to the urine
• changes in appetite
• weight loss
• severe back pain
• increased water consumption
See your vet at the first sign that a problem exists and remember never to self-diagnose your pet. Leave that to the experts. Also ensure your cat has a constant supply of fresh water and is fed only high-quality nourishing food.