A Cat with a Urinary Tract Infection
Your cat has been diagnosed: he has a UTI! The veterinarian has prescribed antibiotics, given you instructions on any dietary changes that need to be made, and has set up an appointment for you to come back with your pet to see how treatment is progressing.
If he or she is a good vet you will have gotten an explanation of the causes and effects of urinary tract infections, the symptoms to watch for, and the long term prognosis for your own pet. But now you are home, and you may feel a bit insecure. It can be comforting to review the information, think a bit more about the treatment involved, and plan ahead.
What is making my cat sick?
There are two common elements in most feline urinary tract infections. The most obvious element is the infection itself: a bacterium will have entered the urinary system, found a hospitable environment, and taken up residence. Once there it will have caused inflammation, irritation of membranes, discomfort, hardening of the bladder walls and other symptoms. Urination will have become painful and unpleasant for you cat, which may have caused him to urinate outside his litter box.
Common places for inappropriate urination include cool kitchen tiles and porcelain tubs. It is not entirely clear why cats choose smooth, cool surfaces. What is certain is that this trait has often proven a life saver for many a cat with a urinary infection, causing owners to realize something is wrong and take the cat in for examination.
The second, underlying cause is likely to be less obvious. Diabetes, with a surplus of sugar in the urine, is a condition that often promotes UTIs. Likewise there are two metabolic conditions which may be involved. One, the most common contributor to UTIs, involves low pH urine. The other, rarer metabolic dysfunction involves normal or high pH.
Each causes chemically different crystals to grow in your cat’s urine. The crystals act as an abrasive, rubbing the surface tissue of the bladder and urethra raw, leaving open wounds for bacteria to settle in, and blood to nourish the infection. There are other things that can cause a cat with a urinary infection, but these are likely to be the first on your veterinarian’s list to consider.
How can I help my cat?
Follow the veterinarian’s instructions, completely and carefully. Do not discontinue medication because you think the infection is gone. Do not alter dosage. Provide your cat with the food your doctor has recommended: in the case of crystal formation your cat’s long term health will rely on the metabolic control that can be gained through dietary change.
Provide your cat with constant access to clean, fresh water, which will dilute the urine, preventing crystal formation, starving bacteria, and promoting kidney function. Allow your cat peace, and give him affection if he needs it. Let him rest.
Beyond that you can consider holistic and alternate approaches to help him heal, and after he heals to promote continued health: there are a number of herbal homeopathic remedies that some veterinarians consider appropriate when used for a cat with a urinary tract infection.
Taken in combination with prescription medicines they may support the immune system and help defeat the infection. Products containing Arctostaphylos uva ursi, Berberis vulgaris, Cantharis and Staphysagris are available through homeopathic suppliers, and many feel they help promote long term urinary tract health. Most vital, though? Love your cat and follow your vet’s instructions.