Cat Litter and Urinary Tract Infection

“Why is my cat not using the litter box anymore?”

Cats, apart from being creatures of habit, and too complex to try and understand, normally do this sort of thing because there usually is something terribly wrong, like a Urinary Tract Infection, or UTI.

There are various reasons why cats stop using their litter box, which can be extremely stressful for the owner, as well as the cat.  Cats don’t normally do their business outside their litter box on purpose, just to annoy their owners.

  • It could be something as simple as not taking to their litter box, or the litter itself.
  • Are you sure it’s clean, or you’ve tried a new brand of litter?
  • Did you make the mistake of using bleach or ammonia-based products to clean the box, instead of mild and low fragrance soap?
  • Has your cat outgrown it and now it’s too small for him to use comfortably?
  • Has your cat become slightly overweight, or a senior, and has difficulty getting in and out of the box, especially if this has high walls?
  • Have you more than one cat, creating a conflict of interest over who uses the litter?
  • Are young adults disturbing the cat’s sacred ritual?
  • Did you put some freshener in it, or close to it, which is irritating the cat’s sensitive smelling abilities?
  • Moving the box from its normal place, or even if you have visitors staying over, which change the ‘vibes’ of their surroundings.

You’ll have to find out the reason for the cause by going over your recent steps, or changes if any.  However, if the surroundings, the litter, and everything else have remained the same, then I do suggest you take your cat to the vets for an examination as a medical condition might exist, which can’t be ruled out.

Your kitty could have a Urinary Tract Infection.

Females are more prone to UTI than males, although males are more prone to urethral blockages since these have a narrower urethra.  Should a total blockage occur, this can result in death.  UTIs are rare in cats below the age of one year.  Typically, this infection strikes when cats are about four years old. 

What is UTI, and how can I spot and acknowledge it at an early stage? 

The urinary health of your kitty is more than very important.  A percentage of cats are more susceptible to this type of infection, and even repetitive cases are also quite common.  Unfortunately, many cats are either booted out into the street or put in animal shelters as a result of their contracting this infection since their owners don’t know how to handle it.  It is one of the prime reasons why cats are abandoned. The lucky ones will be found an alternative home, while the rest have a bleak future ahead of them.

Some owners aren’t as understanding as the majority and expect their cats to ‘function’ like a perfectly cute and cuddly toy.  When this starts to do things which aren’t in the ‘instruction book’, the product must be defective, and so it is rejected.  Cats aren’t products you buy off a shelf.  They are live creatures, with wants and needs, and they too have their own problems which require our care and attention.

Feline UTI could be elusive, as well as tricky, since your cat usually doesn’t show any exterior symptoms of pain, or discomfort, at an early stage.  It’s just after your pet really feels considerable discomfort, over and over again, that he quits utilizing the litter.  Over a period of time, a cat connects his discomfort to the use of the litter box, and will obviously stop using it.

Once you know your cat’s routine, you can quite easily realize that something is not right before your house starts to pong.

The amount of damage a cat can do to your home is far from a joke.

Peeing all over the place, apart from stinking you out, will destroy your furniture, and you’ll end up with your valuables for firewood.  The expense involved to get your house back to its original state can be quite a financial burden.

The majority of cats suffering from UTI tend to improve without medication, however, in such cases, the symptoms can easily reappear.  On a positive note, although these infections are very uncomfortable to felines, they are not life-threatening, unless complications arise.  Treating your kitty properly will most certainly improve its quality of life.

Luckily enough, over the years, there have been many medical and nutritional advances made to help resolve UTI.

Bladder inflammation, also known as feline Idiopathic Cystitis (this is treated with antibiotics), is the commonest cause of UTI.  This distresses the cat when urinating, and it can even lead to emergency type situations should stones start to form in the bladder, which must be surgically removed.

Preventing your cat from contracting this infection is not impossible, and owners can follow several steps to learn how to avoid this from happening.

You can easily manage this, as follows:

  • By not giving your cat excessive dry food since this causes moisture to be drawn out of the bowels once it passes through. This will cause the urine to be more concentrated, which doesn’t help with flushing out bacteria from the urinal tract.  The lack of moisture in the diet can cause struvite crystals to form.  In other words, a cat’s diet needs to be properly balanced.
Cat dry food
Cat dry food
  • Cats, being cats, are highly evolved, and, as second nature, they are thirst tolerant since they originated in a dry climate. They are capable of conserving their bodily water, hence concentrating their urine much better than humans.  Felines normally get their water from their prey; that is birds, reptiles, and rodents, which have a high percentage of water in their bodies.  What this boils down to is that they don’t look out for water sources, even if their body cries out for liquids.

Just as much as you can’t get a horse to drink if you lead it to water, neither can you force a cat.  A cat does pretty much what it wants to do, and you shouldn’t forget that.  The only way around this dilemma is to change their diet accordingly, so they’ll be taking in more water without realizing it.

Water and more water seems to be the key to solving this problem.  This will dilute any concentration build-up of toxins in your kitty’s system, which will successfully prevent the formation of stones and crystals.

How to prevent Urinary Tract Infections in cats, you must be sure that…

Cat water bowl
Cat water bowl
  • Your cat always has clean and fresh water, as well as a clean litter box. The use of suitable litter helps a great deal with your cat’s health.  You could need to use a second litter box while the usual one is being properly cleaned.
  • The flow of water in the cat’s system will help to flush out bacteria, minimizing the risk of an infection.
  • The use of canned food, as well as adding some water to their food, helps keep the hydration levels of a cat high.  Raw meat diets are ideal for the prevention of UTI, which is immediately followed by canned food as a runner-up.
  • Special vitamin supplements are available on the market. These are targeted for specific potential problems, like urinary tract infections.  These vitamins will only contribute towards your cat’s general health.  (Please consult your vet before you decide to give your cat any vitamins)
  • Monitor your cat’s urine pH level. This should not be too high, or too low, and should hover around 6.  Owners can adjust their cat’s diet to balance out the pH level should this be out of the desired level.  Special cat food is available to help with this problem.

You cannot ignore stress in cats

  • Believe it or not, stress, fear, and anxiety are not healthy for your cat in the least. These affect us humans in a negative way, and it has the same effect on your cat.  Any of these three negative emotions can be a result of many different reasons.  Moving house is a likely trigger, or a new pet was introduced into the family unit.  This lowers the immune system, making your feline susceptible to illness, which incidentally also includes UTI.
  • Spending quality time and playing with your cat helps, as well as simply letting him enjoy the scenery from a window.  This is a great way to help your cat relax and unwind, while at the same time giving him some great exercise.

Following the suggestions listed above, and done regularly, will immensely help your cat from getting UTI.  However, as careful as you are, your cat might still be prone to this infection.

What if my cat has UTI, how will I know, and what should I do?

None of us actually desires to see our felines in action when they use their litter box.  However, it’s an excellent idea to observe them doing so, even if only for a few times a week.

Fine, so just what should we be on the look-out for?

The major signs to look out for are:

  • If your cat is in distress while peeing.
  • This is highlighted by the fact that he licks his privates and also crying in the process.
  • Cats with UTI may also be irritated easily and can turn on their owner.
  • Cats with UTI will urinate more frequently than healthy cats since the amount of pee that goes through each time is a small amount.
  • Longer and prolonged squatting in their litter box is not normal.
  • The owner can also smell a strong odor of ammonia in the cat’s pee.
  • Also, cats with UTI tend to urinate anywhere except where they should be doing so.  Note that they tend to prefer cool surfaces, like tiles, or use a bathtub when they have this infection.  This is frustrating for a cat, and also dangerous as it can’t rid its body of toxic waste products properly.

Your pet is surely to have Urinary Tract Infection if the above symptoms are evident, and it’s quite advanced. The best thing you can do for your cat is to rush with him to the vets for a physical examination as it could be an emergency and to also collect urine samples for your vet to examine.  Your vet might even need to use radiographs, or ultrasound during the cat’s examination.

Cats don’t have ‘accidents’ when they are healthy

If ‘accidents’ do happen, put your thinking cap on, and take your cat to the vet as soon as you possibly can. Feline UTI
Vet examining a cat

Another thing that you should do once in a while, is to check out his pee before he covers it up, and making sure it’s not cloudy, and there are no reddish or pinkish colors in it.  If yes, then again, a trip to the vet is necessary.

By reviewing his toilet habits, you can spot something’s wrong from a mile away.  This will save your cat a great deal of discomfort.  At the same time, you will also save yourself on extra expenses.

It only takes a few moments out of your busy schedule to have a quick look at his pee to find out that all is well.  This will save you unnecessary worry and hassle along the way.  Also, not to mention all the time you will be spending going around your home cleaning up peed-on areas.  You will also need to make visits to the vet, resulting in huge and unwanted bills.

Please don’t take UTI lightly, even if in itself is not a direct threat to your cat.  There could be severe side-effects which if not treated quickly and properly, might prove to be potentially serious in nature, and even lethal for your kitty.

Can cat litter cause a urinary tract infection in my cat?

Usually, in itself, cat litter is not a direct cause of a cat having urinary tract infection.  Bacteria that ascend the urethra, into the bladder, will cause infections.

When the litter box is not kept clean, feces, or litter, enter your cat’s vulva.  This can lead to infection.  In repetitive cases, it’s best to consult with your vet to try and prevent this from happening again. 

Luckily for you, a particular kind of litter exists which will raise the alarm if your cat has UTI.  Since its recent availability, this wonderful invention has tremendously helped many cats, as well as their owners.

It’s a great product, and it’s called, PrettyLitter.

For more information about this out-of-this-world kind of litter, and to know your cat’s fine, go find out more about it here.


 (I’d like to hear from you, so please leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve taken something positive, or not, from this blog…)


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