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Urinary Infection in Cats Houston

Ginger kitten

Feline Urinary Marking

Urine spraying is considered typical in sexually intact cats, but approximately 10% of neutered males and 5% of spayed females will also spray. Inappropriate urination is the number one behavior problem recognized in cats.

When your cat is seen with inappropriate urination, it first must be established whether this is indeed from marking behavior or inappropriate toileting behavior. Some cats with inappropriate toileting have bladder or kidney disease. Others have learned to avoid their litter box or its location, or they have developed a preference for a non-litter material or location.

It is possible that a cat who initially had a lower urinary tract disease learned to associate urination in the litter box with pain, and so started urinating elsewhere in order to try to get away from its pain. However, even once the urinary tract disease is resolved, the inappropriate urination can continue because your cat now prefers the wrong spot.

If your cat presents with these behaviors, we would first want to rule out primary disease. We will perform a urinalysis to look for abnormalities. Sometimes we need to do more diagnostics, which might include bloodwork, x-rays, or an ultrasound of the bladder and kidneys. Almost always we will be changing your cat’s diet to something canned and more likely to encourage more frequent urination, so that no crystals or sediment have time to form in the bladder. These crystals can frequently lead to bacterial infection or cause inflammation.

If no evidence of disease is found, then we must delve into the other possibilities. Is it just an aversion to the type of litter that you have? Most cats like the clumping, non-scented litter. Does your cat not like the type of litter box or its location? Most cats like open, large boxes placed in quiet low-traffic areas. Are there too few boxes in your home? Cats need one box per cat plus one, so that a three- cat household needs four boxes. Is one cat causing anxiety or stress for another cat during the toileting time? Oftentimes one cat will bully another just by being too close on purpose or hiding around the corner in order to scare the first cat.

Once these areas are fully considered, we must then address urine marking behavior. Cats typically back up to a vertical surface to spray urine, but can also mark on a horizontal surface. Bedding and clothing on the floor are favorite marking areas. Vertical surfaces are usually associated with doors or low windows through which outside cats may be seen.

Marking, once diagnosed, can usually be traced to some arousal or stress. Sometimes it may be hard to figure out what might be stressing your cat but several areas are typically involved – other cats in the home (either new arrivals but even long-time residents), outside cats walking or spraying around your home, a change in the amount of owner interaction, or renovations going on in or around your home. Stress to a cat may be something as simple as the inability to get away from another pet (dog or cat) or child. The social relationships between cats are complex and often one of the major causes of stress.

We have several ways to help urine marking behavior, especially if it is caught in the early stages before it becomes an ingrained habit. The environment needs to be modified to increase the comfort level for your cat. Cats need to be able to spread out horizontally and vertically from each other. Having a cat “tree” of different levels can help them to view their own space in safety and privacy. Also, besides having the correct number of litter boxes, they should all be uncovered and at least one of them should be a very large box. The litter should be of a clumping variety, which is closer to the natural sand that they instinctively choose. The box should be changed at least once daily. Easy access to at least one box should be ensured for each cat.

In addition, since cats are generally solitary feeders, there may need to be several feeding and water stations around your home. One cat can obstruct another cat’s ability to reach a food bowl if all bowls are in one spot, leading to anxiety. Windows and lower door panes may need to be covered up in order to prevent visualization of other outdoor cats.

Scratching posts and other rubbing materials are helpful to have around your house. Sisal rope on the posts, not shag carpeting, provides a useful way to really allow your cat to scratch and pull out shedding claws. Corrugated cardboard scratching pads are also useful.

There are several enzyme products available to help neutralize the marking odor that may already be present in your home. Any such odor can stimulate continued usage of that same location. We carry several of these products and can help you choose the appropriate one.

Feline facial pheromone diffusers, sprays or collars can help immensely when used around your home or on your cat. We use Feliway sprays and diffusers. This pheromone mimics the facial marking performed when cats are content and relaxed, and promotes relief of stress.

Finally, we have excellent medications that can be added in when environmental modifications alone aren’t enough. Our veterinarians can discuss what medicines might be most helpful for your cat. Some medicines are even available in transdermal gels, which are rubbed on the inside of your cat’s ears so that you don’t have to pill your cat daily. Of those that need medicines, some cats need the medicines for just a few months but others may need lifelong therapy.

Please let us assist you in dealing with this difficult problem before it becomes too overwhelming. We are a feline-friendly practice!


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