If you’ve ever had a cat who began to pee around the house as an indicator of a urinary tract problem, you probably understand how important urinary health is for our feline friends. Cats are susceptible to a number of urinary problems, from kidney disease to urinary tract infections to the dreaded urinary blockages in male cats.
Many feline urinary problems are a result of bacteria in the bladder or urethra, as in urinary tract infections. Other problems might be related to organ deterioration and age, like with kidney disease, or mineral buildup, like with kidney or bladder stones.
The easiest way to manage urinary problems in cats—saving your cat some discomfort and you some money on vet bills—is to take a proactive approach to their health. While there is no way to guarantee that your kitty will never experience a urinary problem over the course of their life, there are a few things you can do minimize their chances of feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and other urinary issues.
Water, water, water
One of the most important aspects of a healthy urinary tract in cats is a consistent flow of clean water. Drinking lots of water helps cats flush toxins, bacteria and mineral deposits out of their system, which minimizes the risk of those things causing problems in the kidneys, bladder and urethra.
One problem many pet parents face is that their cats don’t like to drink water from a stationary bowl. Investing in a water fountain that offers a steady flow of water might entice your furry friend to drink more. Canned food can also provide more moisture than dry kibble for really stubborn drinkers.
Cats prone to urinary problems might benefit from a change in their diet, especially if they tend to develop urinary stones or crystals. Magnesium-, phosphorus- and calcium-restricted diets may reduce the number of crystals and stones your cat’s body develops thanks to the reduced mineral content.
If you believe this type of change would benefit your pet, speak to their vet before buying a new food.
Probiotics—supplements containing beneficial bacteria for the digestive tract—can have far-reaching effects on your cat’s health, including their urinary tract. Giving your cat a daily probiotic may help reduce their risk for recurring urinary tract infections by improving their immunity and preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Reduce their stress
Stress has been closely linked to urinary problems in cats. Stress can reduce immunity, cause pH imbalances and result in higher inflammation, which might exacerbate crystal formation or irritation in the urethra.
To help your kitty stay healthy and happy, work on minimizing stress in their environment. Ensure they have a safe haven away from household commotion, arrange their belongings in a low-stress manner and pay attention to other potential sources of stress you can alleviate.
Keep the litter box clean
A cat’s litter box can also be a source of stress and might be connected to urinary problems in the future. If your cat does not like their litter box location, dislikes the type of litter you use or is frustrated by a dirty box, they might be inclined to hold it or—worse—go elsewhere in your home. Over time, this litter box stress might contribute to bladder problems for your kitty.
Watch for diabetes
Diabetes can increase the risk of urinary tract infections in cats, among other health problems. Keeping your cat’s weight in check and monitoring them for signs of diabetes—especially as they age—can help them avoid this problem, and by extension, reduce their risk for UTIs.
Keep them stimulated
Exercise is also a critical component of urinary tract health in cats. Frequent movement moves things along and encourages your cats to use the litter box, keeping their systems flushed of waste and bacteria. Plus, frequent exercise and playtime helps reduce their stress levels!
Not all urinary problems can be prevented
Unfortunately, even with the best care, some cats will be prone to developing idiopathic FLUTD, where there is no discernible cause for their urinary troubles. In these cases, following the tips above will be necessary as part of an ongoing urinary health management plan. Urinary health supplements may also reduce your cat’s frequency of bladder and urinary tract problems.
Urinary issues in cats can be uncomfortable, painful or even deadly, so it’s very important to not only take care of their urinary health on a daily basis but also watch for the signs of urinary tract infections and other problems. With prompt treatment, your cat will begin to feel better and stay healthier for longer.