Do you know the #1 reason why kitties see the veterinarian?  It’s because they experience a bladder infection (a close second is chronic kidney disease).  So what is creating such havoc in our cats’ urinary systems?  This week Wisconsin Pet Care is going take a closer look at ways to help prevent, and naturally treat, bladder infections in cats.


What is a bladder infection? It is a bacterial infection that affects the lower urinary tract, causing inflammation (cystitis).


So why are cats so susceptible to bladder infections?  Maintaining a balanced pH in the body is the easiest way to prevent bladder infections in cats.  A pH of 7 is neutral – higher numbers are more alkaline, while lower numbers are more acidic.  For optimal bladder function, a cat’s urine should be around a 6-6.5 on the pH scale (acidic).  As we’ve mentioned, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they require meat in their diet to live.  Eating meat naturally keeps their pH levels more acidic.  Our regular readers know how important good nutrition is in the health and wellness of their animal companions, but keeping urinary issues at bay is just one more reason to feed your cat the best diet possible.  Grains and veggies will only make the body more alkaline – setting the bladder up for the possibility of infection.


How can I tell if my cat may have acquired a bladder infection?


*Frequent urination.  If you’re kitty is spending a lot of time inside her litter box, or staying in an area close to her litter box (such as laying on the floor outside of her litter area), it is possible that she is having difficulty emptying her bladder.


*Urinating outside of her litter box.  Not just spraying inappropriately around the house, but rather look for any signs of urination outside of her litter box (even if it is on the floor next to her litter box).


*Visible signs of pain.  If your cat is crying or howling while using the litter box, uses a different stance while in the litter box (crunched up body) or even just drinking more water in an attempt to “flush” her system, she could be having infection symptoms.


*Blood in her litter box.


What should I do if I suspect that my cat could have a urinary issue?  Make an appointment with your veterinarian.  Treating the issue as soon as possible will keep the infection from getting worse, as well as keep your kitty from experiencing any more pain.  Your vet will perform a urinalysis and/or a urine culture to determine the exact urinary issue your cat has acquired.  Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian may decide to prescribe antibiotics.  This will most likely provide your cat with quick relief and recovery.


But what if I don’t want to give my cat antibiotics, or what if my cat continues to get urinary tract infections – isn’t continued antibiotic therapy harmful to my pet?  No one wants to keep their cat on a lifelong antibiotic therapy in order to keep infections away.  However, urinary issues are very common in cats and leaving the condition untreated is not only inhumane, but it can lead to much worse health issues.  The best course of action is to work with your vet to create a holistic treatment plan, as well as a holistic preventative plan.


Is there a natural way to prevent urinary tract infections in cats?  Some commercial foods add “cranberries” or “cranberry extract” to their recipe.  Cranberries are powerful antioxidants so they definitely don’t hurt.  However, there is still research needed on whether a cat’s body can fully absorb all of the cranberries’ phytochemicals – which is the only way to receive their full benefit.  Instead, for cats who experience frequent urinary tract infections, you may wish to discuss the use of the supplement D-Mannose with your veterinarian.  This non-metabolizable sugar hosts natural anti-microbial tendencies – making it a possible alternative “antibiotic” – safe enough to use every day in the prevention of urinary tract infections in cats.