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Cat Urinary Tract Health

"Cat urinary tract health is maintained through drinking water, proper diet and making sure your cat's litter box is clean. A natural remedy may also help sustain balance."

Cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections and cat urinary problems such as blockages (uroliths or stones), so maintaining good health in this area of the body is important. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help.

cat urinary tract health
Cat Urinary Tract Health
X-Ray of Ureteral calculus (mineral buildup in the cat urethra)
Source: Washington State University From the collection of Dr. Barbara Stein.

Infection tends to occur in female cats where bacteria enters the cat from where urine leaves the body. In males, they can get feline lower urinary tract disease (FUS or FLUTD) which is often caused by bladder stones. The stones form and get blocked in the urethra, the tube leading from the bladder to the outside, which narrows as it moves through the penis.

Water and Feline Urinary Tract Health

Getting enough water in the diet is critical for good cat urinary tract health. Urine in the bladder naturally fights any type of urinary infection. If your cat drinks more, he or she urinates more which is natures way of flushing or cleaning the urinary system. If the system is not "flushed" often enough infection and stones (uroliths) can form. Infection causes inflammation and stones could block the flow of urine.

You may have noticed that your cat does not drink very much water. That’s because cats originated as desert creatures. They got most of their liquid from the prey that they caught and ate.

If you feed your cat moist food, she may be getting enough water from her food. Still, extra drinking water won’t hurt. If you feed her dry food, she is going to need to drink more water. Many owners switch to canned food if their cat does not drink enough.

Make sure fresh water is available to your cat at all times. Try keeping extra water bowls around the house. Use water bowls that are large enough that her whiskers don’t touch the sides – cats don’t like their whiskers touching things. You can also try a drinking fountain for cats. Many cats enjoy these and are encouraged to drink by them.

You can also add a tablespoon of vinegar to your cat’s drinking water. This will keep your cat’s urine slightly acidic, which helps prevent the formation of bladder stones, which can contribute to urinary tract infections.

Diet

As we mentioned above, cats are “designed” to get most of their water from their food. Therefore many experts recommend feeding a canned food diet for optimal cat urinary tract health. A cat who eats only dry kibble may be chronically slightly dehydrated, which can have many negative health consequences, including making her more susceptible to urinary tract infections and the formation of bladder stones. Canned foods contain about 75% water, while dry foods contain only about 10% water, so you can see the difference.

There are prescription diets designed for cat urinary tract health, which you can get from your vet. These diets are generally prescribed for cats that have recurring urinary infections or bladder stones. Foods such as Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Multicare are effective on helping to dissolve struvite stones which is one of two types seen in cats. The other type, oxalate, requires surgical removal.

Keep the Litter Box Clean

Bacteria can enter your cat from outside the body at the point where urine leaves the body. If this area isn't kept clean bacteria can work its way up the urethra into the bladder. For this reason a dirty litter box could be an environment filled with bacteria that could come in contact with your cat.

Natural Remedies

The urinary system consists of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, two sphincter muscles and a urethra. The entire system is designed to filter out waste products from the blood which are then removed from the body in the urine.

Several natural ingredients are known to safely and effectively support harmony, health and balance in the bladder and urinary tract. One product made specifically for this purpose is PetAlive UTI-Free Formula for Pet Urinary Tract Infections.

It contains ingredients such as:

Arctostaphylos uva ursi which helps to maintain normal ph levels in the urinary tract

(Reference: Larsson B, Jonasson A, Fianu S. “Prophylactic effect of UVA-E in women with recurrent cystitis: a preliminary report.” Current Therapeutic Research 1993;53(4):441-443. ).

Berberis vulgaris which is a widely studied herb which contains berberine as a main constituent, and is well known for its restorative effect on the bladder and urinary tract.

(Reference: Li SY, Ling LH, Teh BS, et al. “Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties of the bis- benzylisoquinolines: in vitro comparisons of tetrandrine and berbamine.” Int J Immunopharmacol 1989;11(4):395-401.).

If your cat is suffering from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD another supplement that helps some cats is glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. While it doesn't help all cats, those that respond have found some success.

Check with your veterinarian if your cat would benefit from a natural supplement.

Signs of Infection and Cat Urinary Problems

If you notice symptoms of a urinary tract infection in your cat, you should get her to the vet right away. The truth is, no one knows why most urinary tract infections in cats occur, so even with the prevention measures mentioned here, your cat could still come down with an infection. Prompt treatment is important in order to prevent the condition from becoming serious. Symptoms include frequently urinating small amounts, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and urinating outside of the litter box.

Other problems that could occur is a condition where there is inflammation in the bladder without infection. This problem is called feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and has similar symptoms to feline urinary infection.

Treatment for infection involves the use of anti biotics. For other conditions the reason for the problem needs to be identified such as stones that block the bladder or if a structural problem exists that needs to be corrected.

References:

References:

Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co. 2008)

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
Lisa A. Pierson, DVM

Cat Urine Issues
Charla Dawson

 

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