Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, can develop in any pet. Some cats are naturally more likely to develop UTIs, like male cats, overweight cats, or cats with diabetes. However, the infections can affect any cat throughout its lifetime.
A UTI affects the cat’s urinary (peeing) system. This includes the bladder (organ that holds pee) and urethra (tube that pee comes out of). This bacterial infection can lead to symptoms like:
- Frequently urinating (peeing)
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Signs of pain or distress
- Excessive licking of the genitals
- Blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Lethargy (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst (drinking more)
A UTI develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract, pass through the urethra, and reach the bladder. It can be caused by age, lack of proper hygiene around the genitalia, or abnormal pH levels (acidity or alkalinity in liquid) in the cat’s diet. However, it may also be caused by more serious conditions like bladder stones (hard deposits in the bladder), injuries, tumors, or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Remedies and Treatments for Cat Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract diseases are common in cats and can cause discomfort and distress. If left untreated, a UTI can lead to partial or complete blockage of the urethra. This can lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder, which could be deadly.
Depending on the severity of the infection, a cat UTI can be treated using at-home remedies and treatments.
While cranberries are known as a UTI treatment in humans, they can also be used to treat a cat UTI. The acidity of cranberries can lower the pH of your cat’s urine, which can help treat a UTI and stop it from coming back.
Many cranberry juices are high in sugar. Instead, you can find cranberry capsules (pills), supplements, or powder to add to your cat’s diet.
Before giving your cat cranberry, you should first test the pH levels in your cat’s urine. While the acidity of cranberries may help with some UTIs, in other cases, it could make the condition worse. Only provide cranberry supplements if your cat’s urine is too alkaline.
Apple cider vinegar can also lower the pH in your cat’s urine, eliminating and preventing any harmful bacteria. Add half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your cat’s food each day. To reduce the bitter taste, you can mix it in with chicken or beef broth. Just make sure the broth doesn’t contain onions, as this is toxic to cats.
Like cranberries, apple cider vinegar is only effective if your cat’s urine is too alkaline. You can test your cat’s pH using at-home kits or diagnostic cat litter, as well as through a reliable test given by your veterinarian.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
While these two supplements are often used for arthritis joint pain management, glucosamine and chondroitin can also reduce the symptoms of a feline UTI. Glucosamine can help replace a compound in the lining of the cat’s bladder wall. Chondroitin helps prevent this compound from breaking down.
Combining these two supplements can rebuild the bladder wall and prevent further damage from bacteria. This reduces inflammation and other UTI symptoms. For every 10 pounds of your cat’s weight, you can give the cat 100 milligrams of glucosamine and 50 milligrams of chondroitin.
Marshmallow root can kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the lining of the bladder to help fight off a UTI. It also acts as a diuretic — a drug that helps the kidneys flush out urine or other fluids — which increases the flow of urine and flushes out the bladder.
According to a study, marshmallow root contains mucilage (a sticky substance made by plants), which can soothe membranes and provide a barrier to support the lining of the bladder.
In addition to treating the pH level and strengthening the bladder wall, an important part of treating a cat UTI is to make sure that your cat stays well hydrated. This will help flush out the bladder and avoid the buildup of harmful bacteria.
To make sure your cat is staying hydrated, you can introduce tasty fluids like bone broth. Not only will this provide necessary hydration, but bone broth also contains nutrients and minerals that can help fight the infection. The amino acids (organic compounds that form protein in the body) found in bone broth, including glycine, and arginine, have been shown to reduce inflammation.
When to See a Vet
These at-home treatments and remedies may be effective for clearing up minor infections, but more serious infections need to be treated by a professional animal doctor.
If your cat is experiencing mild or moderate symptoms, you can try these remedies to relieve their symptoms. If their symptoms show no sign of improvement in a few days, talk to a veterinarian. If your cat seems to be in pain or is unable to pass urine, see a vet immediately. This could be a sign of urethral obstruction, which can be fatal if not treated within 24 to 48 hours.
A vet may be able to prescribe antibiotics to target the harmful bacteria. Be sure to give your cat the full dose of prescribed antibiotics to prevent the UTI from returning or becoming resistant to treatment.
Even if you’re pursuing professional treatment, these remedies can be effectively used alongside antibiotics to strengthen the bladder and balance your cat’s pH levels. Some can also be used as a daily supplement to prevent the UTI from coming back. Remember to check the urine pH prior to starting some of the remedies to make sure you don't make the problem worse.