Guide to Cat Bladder Infection Symptoms and Treatment

"Cat bladder infection (Cystitis) is caused by different species of bacteria, though the actual causative bacteria are not precisely known. Clinically, cat bladder infection is characterized by dysuria (difficult urination), Hematuria (Blood Cells in Urine), decreased volume of urine, pain and urination in inappropriate places. A definitive diagnosis can only be possible using a series of laboratory tests, termed “Urinalysis”. Treatment involves the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, an adjustment in nutrition and management."

Causes of Bladder Infection in Cats:

Precise or actual causative bacterial agents cannot be determined, as a number of species can cause feline bladder infection or feline cystitis. In most cases, results for pH and urease (an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of urea to form ammonium carbonate) content show that the species of Staphylococcus and Proteus are the major causative agents, while many other species of bacteria that infect a cat’s bladder occurs occasionally.

Some permeable factors of the cat bladder’s wall have been identified for cat bladder infection. The wall may permit the passing of bacteria, resulting in severe infection. Similarly, some factors like weight, age and habits may also play a role in cat bladder infection.  Bacteria can enter from outside the body and travel up the urinary tract to infect the bladder.

Signs and Symptoms:

Difficulty urinating, reduced volume of urine passed and hematuria (blood in cat urine) are the three main symptoms of cat bladder infection. Clinically, it should be noted that the onset of signs for cat bladder infection are acute (suddenly noticeable) and sudden.

Infected cats appear stressed and uncomfortable. Cats suffering from feline bladder infection often do not follow common commands, litter box training usually fails and cats urinate in inappropriate places.

Abdominal pain is common and cats may experience severe pain if palpated (bladder touched) during urination. In severe infections, blood mixed with pus passes in the urine. Affected cats may experience other signs such as anorexia, depression and do not groom themselves, habitually increasing the possibility of skin problems.

Diagnosis of Feline Bladder Infection:

Urinalysis or a series of urine examination procedures are usually required, as actual causative agents for cat bladder infection may vary case to case. Research has shown that the pH of urine for an infected cat appears alkaline and increased urease contents can reveal that Staphylococcus and the Proteus species of bacteria are the major causes of the feline bladder infection. Other opportunistic “Gram +ive” and “Gram –ive” bacteria can infect the bladder along with the mentioned species.

Laboratory studies for urine show the presence of RBC (red blood cells) and WBC (white blood cells), while the presence of puss may indicate the presence of a cat bladder infection as well, even if no specie of bacteria is confirmed in the culture. Both qualitative and quantitative culturing of samples is required in this context, to confirm the diagnosis.

Feline bladder infection should be differentiated from other diseases such as cat bladder calculi and congenital bladder inefficiency


Cats with a bladder infection should be given excessive clean and filtered water to drink and should be provided food containing low protein and magnesium levels.

Broad spectrum antibiotics should be used after a thorough sensitivity test to see how a specific cat reacts to the medication. Initially, Amoxicillin at a dose rate of 10–20 mg/Kg, Cephadroxil at a dose rate of 22–30 mg/Kg should be administered orally for at least 2 weeks. A urine culture should be taken every week to check for improvement. On the basis of a urine examination, veterinarians may suggest further therapy of the same drugs continuously for 2–4 weeks, depending upon the severity of the disease and the results of the laboratory examination.

Anti -inflammatory drugs may help in curing symptoms of pain and swelling in the bladder, and may be recommended by your veterinarian.

Recurring feline bladder infections should be investigated for any underlying causes, as some cats may develop infection due to the prolonged use of glucocorticoids. Similarly, bladder calculi should be confirmed by radiography and ultrasonography. The underlying cause can be treated appropriately, with the use of antibiotics usually required in these cases.

The addition of a homeopathic remedy which supports urinary tract health may also help to prevent future bladder infections.  One product, UTI-Free Formula for pet urinary tract infections, contains ingredients such as Berberis vulg (well known positive effect on urinary health) and Cantharis (supports urine flow) and Staphysagris (urogenital health and prostate support).

If your cat will tolerate it, add some cranberry juice to the water dish.  Berries have natural properties which can help to keep bacteria from clinging to the walls of the bladder. Adding an additional water dish in the house may also encourage drinking and increased urination, both helpful ways to "flush" the urinary system of harmful bacteria.  It will also help to keep cat bladder stones from forming.

Keep the litter box clean as well.  Bacteria that forms in the litter box, can enter through the cat's urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body) and then up to the bladder.

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The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Washington State Uinversity College of Veterinary Medicine