Feline Urinary Tract Infections: Symptoms and Treatment

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Cats experience fear and anxiet just like us. Stress can occur in your cat for multiple reasons. Perhaps you’ve recently moved or brought a new pet or family member home. Whatever the case may be, if you have a stressed cat, there could be an underlying problem. One of the first ways to detect this problem is when your cat stops using their litter box. Look for places where they may be peeing in a new spot, spraying on a wall, or having trouble urinating.

Unfortunately, inappropriate urination is one of the most common reasons why cats are left at shelters or put outdoors. If your cat starts marking their territory away from their litter box, it’s not out of revenge or spite; it’s probably because something is wrong. While it could be a behavioral problem, or they doesn’t like their litter box for some reason, a medical condition should first be ruled out. One of the most frequent medical causes of a urination problem is feline lower urinary tract disease.

What is FLUTD?

Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, is a term used to describe a group of disorders or diseases that affects a cat’s lower urinary tract (bladder or urethra). FLUTD is diagnosed after causes like urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney stones have been ruled out. Causes include crystals or stones in the bladder, bladder infections, urethral obstruction, inflammation in the urinary bladder (sometimes referred to as interstitial or idiopathic cystitis), and other abnormalities in the urinary tract. FLUTD is one of the most common reasons cats are taken to the vet.

Warning Signs of Feline Urinary Tract Infections

  • Straining to urinate: Feline idiopathic cystitis can lead to straining while urinating, and can eventually lead to more severe situations such as the formation of bladder stones or a urethral plug. Male cats are more at risk to develop a urethral plug; this is a life-threatening condition that causes a cat to lose the ability to urinate.

  • Frequent attempts to urinate: Cats with FLUTD have a frequent urge to urinate, but can only pass a small amount each time.

  • Painful urination: If your cat cries out while urinating, this is a tell-tale sign that she may be in pain.

  • Blood in urine

  • Licking the genital or abdominal areas: This is a way for cats to soothe the pain of a urinary tract disease.

  • Irritability

  • Urinating Outside the Litter Box: Take note if your cat is urinating in places other than litter box, especially on cool surfaces like tile or a bathtub.

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It’s also important to monitor your cat after being diagnosed with FLUTD during treatment to ensure that the problem doesn’t reoccur as cats are good at hiding their pain.

What to Do if You Suspect a FLUTD

If your cat is having trouble urinating and displaying other signs of FLUTD, take her to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will give her a physical exam and collect urine samples. Blood work, x-rays, and abdominal ultrasound may also be recommended for diagnosis.

Most cases of FLUTD improve without medical treatment, but the symptoms can recur. Though they may not be life-threatening to your cat, they can be uncomfortable, so treatment can improve her overall quality of life. While treatment of FLUTD depends on the underlying cause, it is always beneficial to increase your cat’s water intake. Maintaining a healthy weight, feeding her canned food and encouraging her to use her litter box can also help. However, certain conditions simply cannot be treated at home. Bacterial cystitis should be treated with antibiotics, while stones must be surgically removed.

It’s always best to be safe. A simple phone call to your vet when you first notice any of the above symptoms can help diagnose a problem much sooner and save your cat a longer period of discomfort. It’s also important to monitor your cat after being diagnosed with FLUTD during treatment to ensure that the problem doesn’t reoccur as cats are good at hiding their pain.

Preventing Future UTIs in Your Cat

Following your vet visit, you can make other changes to your cat’s life to decrease the likelihood for FLUTD to come back. Environmental recurrence has shown to reduce the recurrence rate by 80 percent, and can also help your cat use her litter box. This includes spending more time with your cat, giving her access to windows, and giving her more toys. You can also increase the number of litter boxes in your home and make sure they’re properly cleaned.


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Top 5 Important Questions to Ask About Pet Obesity

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Pet's with the diagnosis of obesity is not new, however, it is becoming more prevalent. This is an incredibly important issue because pets with obesity are at increased risk for developing serious weight-related disorders such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer, and more.

To help you better care for your dog or cat, we'd like to provide the top five questions you need to ask your veterinarian to keep your pet healthy. They are simple, non-embarrassing questions, and just may save your pet’s life.


#1 - Is my pet overweight?

This is the most important question you must ask your veterinarian – and one your vet may not be eager to answer. Believe it or not, many veterinarians are hesitant to tell you if your pet is overweight or has obesity. This is primarily due to the fact your veterinarian doesn’t want to inadvertently offend you. Weight issues are tricky and loaded with perceived judgment, strong emotions, and social stigmas.

As a concerned pet owner, you need to understand your pet’s weight is one of the most influential factors of longevity, quality of life, and disease prevention. To answer this question, your veterinarian will likely conduct a couple of measurements, determine a Body Condition Score (see charts below) and determine your pet's current weight status.

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Ask the question. Demand a thorough assessment. Don’t be offended if the answer isn’t what you expected. This isn’t personal; it’s your pet’s wellbeing.

#2 How many calories should I feed my pet each day?

We’ve got to be specific when it comes to feeding our pets. Don’t fall into the trap of inquiring, “How much should I feed?” You’ll probably get a generic, inaccurate response. You need to know the precise numbers of calories and nutrients your pet needs. That way, regardless of the type, brand, or formulation of food you feed, you can determine how much to feed. This is a subtle, but incredibly significant difference. Healthy nutrition is about feeding your pet proper nutrients, not ingredients.

Your veterinarian should then ask you a few lifestyle questions, perform a couple of calculations, and give you a narrow range of daily calories you should feed. Memorize this number. Find out how many cups or cans of your pet food this equals. Feed that amount. Don't forget to include any treats in your daily caloric counts. Less is best, as it can swiftly add up and destroy even the best dietary plans.

#3 How much weight should my pet lose in a month?

If your pet is like the majority of dogs and cats, it’ll need to shed a few unhealthy pounds of excess fat. You need to ask how much weight your pet needs to shed and how long will it take to reach a healthy weight. I prefer to think in terms of pounds per month due to practicality and performance. Monthly weight checks are practical and reasonable for even the busiest pet owners. A weight loss plan’s performance is critical to track and monitoring monthly trends is an accurate indicator of success or stagnation.

In general terms, a dog can safely lose 1 to 3-percent of its body weight and cats 0.5 to 2-percent per month. Many dogs can lose 3 to 5-percent and most cats should aim for about a half-pound per month. Losing weight isn’t easy or fast for pets, especially cats.

If you put your pet on a “crash diet,” they can develop serious medical conditions, including a life-threatening form of liver failure that can occur in less than 72 hours. Patience is essential with pet weight loss.

Most of my canine patients will have a 3 to 6-month weight loss plan and cats 6 to 12-months. Your veterinarian will probably formulate a step-weight loss plan that will gradually decrease the amount you’re feeding over a 1 to 3-month period. This will help curtail cravings, begging, and late-night pestering. Note I said “help,” not “eliminate.” There will be some unhappy pets when you institute a diet. Your veterinarian should provide you with tips on preventing these behaviors and transitioning to a new weight-loss diet.

#4 What kind of exercise should my pet do?

Most veterinarians and pet owners focus on how long a pet should exercise daily. While that’s an excellent approach, it is advised you ask what types of activities are best based on your pet’s species, breed, age, gender, and current physical abilities. Walking, swimming, agility, chase, ball retrieving, and remote-controlled toys – the opportunities for physical activity with your pet are limitless but determined by physical ability and intellectual interest. The general recommendation is that dogs need at least 30-minutes of physical activity a day and cats should strive for three 5-minute intense play periods. How you spend those minutes will determine if you do it or don’t and if you adhere to those activities. Make your outings enjoyable, entertaining, and interactive. They will be not only beneficial but also strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

Cat owners, please don’t forget to ask this question. Whether you play with a feather duster or laser pointer, move the food bowl, or use a hip, high-tech toy, engage your cat’s inner predator and encourage it to pounce, leap, and prowl every day.

If you want to get really technical, try out pet activity monitors. They’re a great tool to document how much your pet is walking or playing each day. Better yet, you can share these reports with your veterinarian to identify any deficiencies or ways to optimize your training.


#5 Is my pet at risk for a medical problem due to excess weight?

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This is a very serious question that you need to understand for your pet’s future. Dogs and cats with excess fat are at greater risk for developing diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer. You need to have an honest conversation with your veterinarian to find out if your pet is potentially facing one of these weight-related disorders. If so, what can you do to reduce their odds of developing one of these conditions? Preventing disease is the primary focus of maintaining a healthy weight and proper nutrition. The most important decision you make each day about your pet’s health is what you choose to feed it. Choose wisely; your pet’s longevity and quality of life depend on it.

It’s never too late to reduce your pet’s chances of contracting one of these serious disorders. Early recognition and awareness is the best defense against many diseases. Begin by asking these questions.


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How to Give Your Cat a Happy and Healthy Life

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Cats typically fail to receive the same veterinary attention as dogs. Fewer than half the population of felines receive appropriate veterinary care in a year. Could it be rising costs in every industry yet not in wages? Fear not, proper feline care doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are ten ways to keep your cat happy and healthy.

1. Keep cats indoors

Unfortunately, both family vets and emergency vets see all kinds of wounds and fractures in cats who are left outside, unattended. Cats come in who were hit by a car, shot at with an arrow, shot at with a BB gun, shot at with a real gun, and bitten by animals (dogs, possums, raccoons, other cats). In some areas, cats vanish after encounters with coyotes or other predators.

If you feel that keeping cats indoors is inhumane, then walk them on a leash around the yard. This will prevent them from getting out of the yard if left unsupervised. Sadly, we live in a world where the safest place for your cat is on the couch.

2. Couch Potato Chubbiness

Just because cats should live on the couch, doesn't mean that they shouldn't exercise. Sedentary cats are prone to obesity. One way to avoid this is provide toys for play. Initiate play with your cat. This is good not only to help your pet lose extra pounds, but to tap into your cat’s natural hunting instincts. Different cats like different toys, so explore various options. You can also offer a special “food toy” which releases food when it's moved in a particular way. Another idea is to hide pieces of their cat food around a room to increase your cat’s hunting instinct.

3. Litter

Cats are obsessed with cleanliness. A clean litter box is critical to avoid inappropriate urination and defecation in the house. A litter box should be cleaned once a day. If you have more than one cat, you should offer multiple litter boxes – all cleaned once a day.

4. Carrier

Get your cat used to the carrier. Teach them that it is a safe place and not a torture device. This can be done by just having the carrier out as a hiding spot. Food is a big incentive in getting your cat into the carrier. This will make it a lot less stressful when it is time to take your pet to the annual veterinary exam.

5. 3D world

Cats live in a 3D world. They don't live only on the ground like many dogs do. Cats like to jump and perch and observe and rest at various heights. To learn more about the 3D environment concept, take a look at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine's overview of perches as well as their Indoor Pet Initiative page for tips to keep cats (and dogs) happy.

6. Physical exam

A healthy cat is a happy cat. Cats should have a yearly physical exam, and older cats may benefit from an exam twice a year. It's not always easy: cats are very good at hiding signs and you often have to look hard to know if a cat is sick. Unfortunately, you still might not know until your cat's body cannot take it anymore. This means that by the time you realize that your cat is sick, it may be very late (or too late) to find a cure. Thankfully, a thorough physical and blood work can reveal problems like lumps and bumps under the skin, eye conditions, ear infections, as well as kidney or liver disease.

7. Preventive care

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – wise words attributed to Benjamin Franklin. After the yearly physical, you and your vet can decide what your particular cat needs: vaccines, deworming, heartworm prevention, blood work, flea and tick prevention and dental care.

8. Microchip

A microchip is a tiny device (the size of a grain of rice) that is placed under the skin and stays there for life. If your pet is ever lost and ends up in a shelter or a vet clinic, a microchip reader will reveal who your cat belongs to. This can help reunite you with your cat and is much more reliable than a collar and a name tag.

9. Food

How to best feed a cat is a highly controversial topic. Professionals like veterinarians know that there is a lot of “junk food” on the market. Some call it "kitty crack." Feeding these foods (which of course we cannot name here) would be similar to humans eating at a fast food restaurant every day at every meal.

It is probably fair to say that there is no ideal food for all cats. Finding the best solution for your particular cat should ideally come out of a heart-to-heart discussion with your family vet. The choice will vary depending on your cat’s age, size, and bill of health.

10. Socialization

Cats are social creatures. They (sometimes) enjoy each other’s company. Consider going to your local shelter and saving a life by adopting your next feline friend. Double the cats: double the fun!

Let’s finish our review of tips to keep cats happy and healthy with one more suggestion. If you’re concerned that you may not be able to afford proper veterinary care if your cat gets really sick, then consider getting pet insurance. This is a great way to know that no matter what happens, you will be able to provide the best care for your feline friend.

As you can see, none of the above suggestions costs a lot of money. With common sense and a little bit more attention, you can ensure your feline friend will remain in good health for a long time.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.


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What makes a cat treat healthy?

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People love to shower their pets with treats and affection.


Although you can probably never give too much affection, cat treats are another thing. Cats can develop weight problems just we humans do. According to a study reported by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 57% of cats are overweight or obese.


Can cat treats ever be good for kitty? Are some treats better than others? And is “people food” healthy for your cat?


What Makes a Cat Treat Healthy?

Moderation is key. It's fine to feed your cat treats, but it should be a very small part of their diet.


How small? Many experts recommend cat treats make up no more than 10% of the total calories a cat eats in a day. That’s because most treats don’t add anything but calories to a cat’s diet.


The remaining 90% of your cat’s calories should come from a high-quality, nutritionally complete cat food.


Decoding the Labels

Learning what’s in packaged cat treats can be a bit of a puzzle. Labels are lacking in calorie counts, and not all nutrients are listed on cat food labels.


To learn how many calories are in your cat’s treats, you can contact the pet food manufacturer or check with your vet for recommendations.

At a minimum, look to see if a treat is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This group sets pet food manufacturing standards, albeit minimal.


10 Tips to a Cat’s Healthy Relationship with Treats

Remember moderation. Like people, cats can develop a taste for treats, and they may decide to avoid their own food in favor of the goodies they love. For this reason, keep cat treats novel by offering them no more than two or three times a week.

Go easy with “people food.” Foods made for cats are formulated to contain the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids a cat needs for good health, so “people food” should be a minimal part of your cat’s diet. For an occasional delicacy, you might try small bits of cheese or cooked tuna, chicken, fish, or liver. You can also give your cat a tablespoon of milk now and again, but for cats that are lactose intolerant, this may cause diarrhea.

Avoid toxic foods. Raisins, grapes, onions, alcohol, salt, tea— we may love them, but these and other common foods can be toxic to cats. If you’re not sure a treat is safe, talk your vet before giving it to your kitty.

Ban begging. When giving your cat a treat, avoid doing it at the dinner table or at the cat’s insistence. Don’t reward begging.

Overweight cats need care. There’s no way around it: Cat treats add calories. But simply cutting out treats isn’t going to do much for an overweight cat. Have your cat evaluated by a vet, who will develop a safe diet plan to help your cat lose weight slowly and carefully. Rapid weight loss in an overweight cat can lead to a serious liver disease called hepatic lipidosis.

Go green. Catnip makes a fine cat treat and it’s low-calorie. Most cats love both catnip and cat grass (which is actually a cereal grass like wheat or oats). Both treats are easy to grow in a sunny window, and you can also find dried and fresh greens in pet stores. Always be sure the plant you’re offering your cat is safe for felines. But don’t be alarmed if your cat regurgitates the kitty grass you buy— some just do that. Stick with catnip for those cats. If you’re not sure a plant is cat-safe, check the ASPCA’s web site for information on plants toxic to felines. If you think your cat may have eaten a dangerous plant call your vet immediately, or contact the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Give cat treats for fun and fitness. Help your cat exercise brain and body by using cat treats to train them in agility exercises or tricks.

Apologize with cat treats. Try giving cat treats after something your cat doesn’t like— such as claw trimming, tooth brushing, or a dose of medication. Along with praise and petting, this can go a long way toward soothing a feline who’s been forced to do something unpleasant.

Don’t use cat treats to replace love. Cats don’t have many needs: a healthy diet, a safe home, and loving attention. When you’re short on time, it can be easy to think a handful of treats builds the same bond as a stroke or cuddle.

Make your own natural cat treats. By cooking up small bits of liver, fish, or eggs for your cat, you’ll know exactly what’s in the treats they are eating. You can even make organic cat treats for your cat by buying meat, fish, and eggs that are certified organic. But remember, these treats should make up only a small part of your cat's overall diet.


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Rehabilitating an Injured Cat with Physical Therapy

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An injured cat will need a period to rehabilitate and regain his normal functions. Even if physical therapy is not regarded as a practical rehabilitation method, as people believe cats won’t cooperate, this method may be effective in speeding up the healing of an injured cat. Most cats enjoy physical therapy.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Cats

  • Physical therapy can be used to rehabilitate a cat that has undergone surgery, has an injury or a chronic disease that affects his functions.

  • Physical therapy can diminish pain and reduce the swelling caused by a surgery. In addition, physical therapy will strengthen the muscles and make the joints more flexible.

  • Therapy can correct limping and limb stiffness and may also improve the mental state of the cat by reducing stress and calming him down.

Physical Therapy Techniques for Cats

The main physical therapy techniques used for felines include hot and cold treatments, therapeutic ultrasounds, passive range of motion and active rehabilitation.

The cat may benefit from all these techniques or the vet may recommend a selected number of techniques, depending on the medical condition and the state of the injury.

Hot and Cold Treatment

Among the passive rehabilitation methods, the hot and cold treatment is known to be highly effective. This method can be employed to relieve pain caused by an injury and may also be effective in managing arthritis pain.

Cold compresses are applied, which reduce swelling and pain; these compresses can be held for 20 minutes at a time and may be applied several times per day.

Hot compresses may be used when there is no swelling present. The purpose of these compresses is to speed up the metabolism rate and reduce pain. Apply hot compresses for 20 minutes, 2 to 4 times per day. Ensure that the temperature is bearable for the pet.

This therapy can be performed at home, but consult a physical therapist prior to using hot and cold compresses.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Therapeutic ultrasound is also a passive method, which strengthens muscles and promotes blood flow to the injured area, speeding up the recovery. This method relieves pain. The method must be used with caution for cats that have metal implants (i.e., in fractures), as these implants can heat up and cause burns.

Passive Range of Motion

Passive range of motion will focus on improving the function of joints and can be employed if the cat’s joints have been motionless for extended periods of time (i.e., from splints or casts). This method of controlled movement will also strengthen the muscles.

Active Rehabilitation

Active rehabilitation is recommended when the cat starts to walk and resume his normal activities. There are multiple techniques of active rehabilitation, including ball exercises, aqua therapy, balance boards and treadmills. These will focus on strengthening the muscles and improving flexibility.

Physical therapy in cats can be used for various periods of time, depending on the type of injury, age and health of the cat. The frequency of the sessions will be determined by a therapist, but it's usually 1 to 5 times per week.


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