Problems that affect a cat’s lower urinary system often prevent the bladder from emptying correctly or may even cause fatal blockage of the urethra, the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra.
Infection, trauma, blockage (stones, mucus plugs), inflammation, and other metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus are all causes for disorders of the urinary tract. Male cats, because of their longer urethras, are more prone to developing life-threatening blockages when a stone or plug lodges in the narrower end of the urethra near the opening.
Stress is also an important factor in the development of urinary tract disorders.
Cats may urinate frequently, usually in small amounts and oftentimes outside the litter box when infection or moderate to severe inflammation is present. Sometimes blood can be seen in the urine. Male cats who sit in the box for long periods of time or vocalize when trying to urinate need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Very often the culprit is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Once called Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), FLUTD is not merely one problem, but a collection of clinical symptoms that may have more than one possible cause. Symptoms of FLUTD include frequent or painful urination, bloody urine and frequent licking of the urinary opening. One key to treating FLUTD is to determine the root cause, which may include bladder stones, urinary tract blockage, infection or cancer. If the cause of these symptoms cannot be determined, the cat is considered to have bladder inflammation (cystitis).
What Can Happen If a Cat's Lower Urinary Tract Problems Go Untreated?
Untreated urinary problems can cause partial or complete obstruction of the urethra, preventing a cat from urinating. This is a medical emergency that can very quickly lead to kidney failure and/or rupture of the bladder and can prove fatal if the obstruction is not relieved right away.
What Does Diet Have To Do With All Of This?!
Switching your cat's food from dry to wet is one of the key factors in preventing urinary tract infections. Cats in the wild obtain most of their moisture through the ingestion of live prey. They were not designed to drink large amounts of water. Also, most commercial dry cat food formulas have a high carbohydrate content which contributes to abnormal metabolic processes in the body.
A good quality canned food is important to maintain proper urinary tract habits. Now, before some of you start groaning, there are indeed good quality canned foods available to you from a handful of companies! The one I prefer is from a small, employee-owned company that has a holistic veterinarian as their nutritional expert and product formulator for cats AND dogs.
Cats should also be supplied with fresh, clean, filtered or purified water daily. Tap water often contains chlorine and fluoride which are detrimental to the body and should never be offered to animals.
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