cat receiving vet attention

Bladder infections in cats: recognising cat cystitis and urinary tract infections

If you’ve ever had a bladder infection, you’ll know just how horrible it can make you feel. Chances are you recognise the tell-tale signs and head straight to your doctor for medication that’ll clear the infection up fast.

Though your cat can suffer from bladder infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs) she can’t tell you how she’s feeling. We look at the signs and symptoms of UTIs and bladder infections in cats, so you can get help from your vet when your cat needs it.

The most important thing to know is that difficulty weeing in a MALE cat is an EMERGENCY.  This condition can be fatal if left too long so if your MALE cat shows any of the signs below, contact your vet immediately.

Is my cat likely to get a bladder infection?

Bladder infections (sometimes called cystitis, which means inflammation of the bladder) can be caused by crystals, bacteria, diseases such as diabetes, and even stress. While they’re relatively rare in healthy cats, all cats can contract bladder infections, though they are more common in female cats, elderly cats, overweight cats, house cats and those with a weakened immune system.

When they do occur, bladder infections and UTIs can be very painful, and can even lead to permanent damage to the kidneys and urinary tract, so treatment is vital. 

Identifying the signs of UTIs and bladder infections in cats

Pain or difficulty urinating may be the first sign that your cat has a urinary tract infection or bladder infection. You may spot blood in her urine, or perhaps notice that she’s producing just a trickle of wee. In some cases, your normally housetrained cat may wee inside your home. Always get your cat checked out by your vet if you notice any of the following symptoms:

Signs and symptoms of bladder infections in cats

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Trickling urine
  • Weeing on the carpet, or elsewhere inside your home
  • Meowing in discomfort while urinating
  • Licking the genital area
  • Fever
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy

Diagnosing cystitis, bladder infections and UTIs in cats

Your vet may recommend testing a sample of your cat’s urine to determine whether she has an infection, which can include cystitis, urinary tract infections or stones, or bladder infections. Depending on the cause, he or she may prescribe anti-inflammatories and/or antibiotics to clear up the infection, or recommend a special diet to help dissolve the urinary tract stones. 

“Pain or difficulty urinating may be the first sign that your cat has a urinary tract infection or bladder infection.” 

Can I prevent my cat from getting bladder infections? 

The best way to protect your cat against bladder infections is to ensure she drinks plenty of water. Always make sure your cat’s water bowl is topped up with fresh water. You may want to consider buying a water fountain, which could encourage your cat to drink more.

Need advice on bladder infections in cats?

For expert advice on bladder infections and cystitis in cats, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.