What You Should Know About Urinary Tract Infections in Cats
Urinary tract infections in cats are unfortunately a common issue – and our little fur babies don’t have the ability to tell us how badly it hurts. You may start to notice your cat straining in the litter box, maybe you see some blood in his urine or you get that overwhelming ‘cat pee’ smell in your house and you just can’t figure out what’s going on.
Once we understand that there’s a problem, our first reaction is usually to run to the vet. They often prescribe antibiotics to address the infection and all is well again… but because the underlying cause of these issues isn’t addressed, it is likely the condition will return. That’s the last thing I want for my cat – I once heard this analogy of what a urinary tract infection in cats feels like – and it really stuck with me: Imagine – Someone sticks a wine cork in your urethra and it stays there for days on end. Since you can’t talk – all you do is sleep and hope that the pain will eventually subside.
No thank you.
Here’s some good news – this painful (and often reoccurring) problem is an extremely avoidable situation.
Dehydration is the number one cause of urinary tract infections in cats – and is a result of water-depleted diets. Water flowing through a cat’s urinary tract system is the single MOST important factor in keeping that system healthy.
“But I always keep the water bowl full!” – Don’t be fooled. Your cat cannot sit at the water bowl and consume the water that the body needs on a daily basis. They have a low thirst drive – plus it just gets boring to sit a drink water for too long – even from their favorite toilet. Dry kibble cat food – no matter the quality – is water-depleted. A cat’s natural diet (in the wild) is 65-70% water and dry food is 5-10% water. That makes the math pretty easy… and it paints a pretty clear picture. It’s no wonder this is a common problem – if a cat is only eating kibble, and just drinks from the water bowl, they are easily at a water deficit.
A cat’s health thrives best on food that is meat based and full of water. Wet food that is well balanced and high in protein is the crème de la crème of a healthy cat diet. Most holistic vets will tell you that a balanced raw food diet is best – but raw can often be a difficult ‘sell’. We cat owners know how hard it can be to get your domesticated cat to eat raw – and you HAVE to do your research to be sure that your cat is getting all of the vitamins and minerals needed in a fully balanced raw diet.
It’s also worth noting that many times – when we notice the problem – it’s likely that the cat’s urinary tract may just be inflamed – not yet a full blown infection. This inflammation causes the urinary tract to narrow, leading to the straining you may have noticed. Often this issue can be helped by the appropriate change in diet and a natural anti-inflammatory supplement.
Which brings up one more point I’d like to make: Prescription diets are often an upsell when you’re leaving the vet’s office after discovering your cat’s UTI. ‘Prescription‘ is a term that is used for marketing in pet foods – just do a little research to see how clever this marketing can be. There are many supplements that you can add to your cat’s wet food that will give him what he needs to overcome a urinary tract problem – without depleting him of nutrients, protein and WATER at the same time. I am not telling you to ignore your vet’s advice – I’m just encouraging you to get a second opinion from your own research.
So that’s my two cents on urinary tract infections in cats. I’ve been a cat owner for many years and have battled many urinary issues along the way. From my personal and professional experience, I can tell you that diet/nutrition is the leading factor that causes urinary problems in cats – and healthy diet/nutrition is the best way to avoid them altogether.