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Discussion Starter #1
It's really bugging me that I have no idea what could have caused Fergie's UTI. Last time she got one I tracked it to fish and stopped giving them any fish and all has been well for a year and a half. Since we haven't made any changes in their diet, I'm just wondering what kinds of things cause UTI's? Can the stress of a vet visit (normal yearly checkup) cause one?
 

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Anything that suppresses the immune system can leave the body vulnerable to infection, and stress can have an immuno-suppressive effect. Certain drugs, like steroids, can also suppress the immune system.

A healthy urinary tract is also an acidic environment, which is a hostile place for bacteria. Anything (various foods or meds) that reduces the acidity of the urine, also makes the urinary tract more bacteria-friendly, which can lead to UTI's. The same holds true for anything that dilutes the urine. Diluted urine is also less acidic and more bacteria-friendly. That's why CRF cats are especially prone to UTI's. They have very dilute urine.

You also need to remember that not all urinary tract problems involve infection. In fact, most urinary problems do NOT involve infection. The most common urinary issue is interstitial or idiopathic cystitis in which the urinary tract becomes inflamed for unknown cause. This is often mistaken for UTI because it can present with all the same symptoms: difficult and/or painful urination, blood in the urine, litterbox avoidance, straining to urinate, etc. To complicate matters further, most urine tested for UTI is acquired through a "free catch" method (rather than sterile acquisition with a needle directly from the bladder). Free caught urine can be contaminated with environmental bacteria the instant it leaves the cat's body, leading to false positive results for UTI. So unless your cat's urine is acquired using sterile technique with a needle directly from the bladder and then tested immediately, you really never know whether an infection is actually present.

Head spinning yet?

Laurie
 

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Excellent informative answer! :thumb
 

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Thanks Laurie! Nope, my head isn't spinning, but I have a couple more questions! If diluting the urine is bad, then is it bad that Fergie drinks a lot of water? Maybe she's drinking so much because she does eat dry food - I wouldn't think she could be drinking enough to dilute the urine enough to cause an infection. I would love to have the girls on wet food only, but they honestly stop eating after about 2 days on only wet food.

The vet did get the urine sample with a needle, so I know it was sterile. They did find bacteria indicative of a UTI, which is why she's on antibiotics. What do you do to treat the cat if it's not an infection? And would most vets put the cat on antibiotics anyway? Last year Fern had a bladder inflammation that I don't believe was an infection but she was on antibiotics.
 

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If diluting the urine is bad, then is it bad that Fergie drinks a lot of water?
Kibble fed cats do drink a lot more water in the attempt to make up the HUGE moisture deficit in their food. They need to take in adequate water to digest the dry food. Water is great for the kidneys, great for flushing urinary crystals out of the urinary tract, and great for the body overall. The only downside is the possibility of diluting the urine and making it less acidic, thereby making the urinary tract a friendlier environment for bacteria. It's a bit of a catch-22, but the advantages to keeping the body well hydrated far outweigh any risk of UTI.

Interstitial cystitis is most often caused by stress, so the most effective treatment is to do everything possible to keep the cat relaxed and happy and to eliminate stress-inducers in the cat's environment. In addition to this, vets may prescribe muscle relaxants and/or anti-inflammatories to address the inflammation in the urinary tract. I think I read that glucosamine also has some beneficial effect, but I can't remember the specifics.

I do believe that many vets overprescribe antibiotics for urinary issues. This may be because they know that their clients want and expect antibiotics for their cats with possible UTI's. It may also be because many vets test free-caught, contaminated urine samples and get false positive UTI results. Or maybe some vets like to cover their bases "just in case". I really don't know what any particular vet's motives may be for prescribing antibiotics for unconfirmed or inaccurately diagnosed urinary issues, but I'm sure that it happens a lot more often than any of us would like to think.

Laurie
 

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Long response - I have dealt a lot with these issues the last couple years, both in myself and my cats.

The most common bacteria that causes UTIs is Ecoli which is actually found inside the body. Secondly is staphylococcus.

Cats have tiny urethras. Microscopic almost. A standard needle tip is sometimes bigger than a cats urethra. Some cats are more prone to UTIs because of thier physical anatomy. My cat has an extra narrow urethra, and can get partially blocked, which does not allow a good stream of urine to escape the bladder. This causes some urine to stay in the bladder and not "flushing" out the bacteria. This tiny amount of urine can become a bacterial cess pool. He just has a Perineal Urethrostomy to correct his anatomy so that he can urinate more efficiently to help with the UTIs as well as prevent blocakges. Urine acidity is important, but diluted urine isnt neccessarily going to cause a UTI. If the cat is urinating regularly, diluted urine or not, this does help "clean" out the bladder. As someone else stated, food and such can change the PH of the urine. Urine is usually slightly acidic in nature. From personal experience, as long as the cat is getting enough moisture / water the cat gets significantly less UTIs. SO it my personal experience, diluted urine (caused by increased / adquate water intake) does not increase UTI chances. I feed my cats can food to help with this. I do not know if kibble helps increase or decrease said chances of UTIS.

You also need to remember that not all urinary tract problems involve infection. In fact, most urinary problems do NOT involve infection. The most common urinary issue is interstitial or idiopathic cystitis in which the urinary tract becomes inflamed for unknown cause. This is often mistaken for UTI because it can present with all the same symptoms: difficult and/or painful urination, blood in the urine, litterbox avoidance, straining to urinate, etc. To complicate matters further, most urine tested for UTI is acquired through a "free catch" method (rather than sterile acquisition with a needle directly from the bladder). Free caught urine can be contaminated with environmental bacteria the instant it leaves the cat's body, leading to false positive results for UTI. So unless your cat's urine is acquired using sterile technique with a needle directly from the bladder and then tested immediately, you really never know whether an infection is actually present.
This is very true about the urine catches. Intersitital cystitis can also happen in cats. It is a garbage diagonsis for many illnesses / problems in the urinary tract that are NOT caused by bacteria. This includes inflammation, urinary frequency / urgency , nerve pain , getting crystals in thier urine and many other diagnosis that vets / doctors do not know the exact cause of. Intersititial cytitis is NOT most often caused by stress. Intersitital cystitis can be caused by environmental factors (stress, chemicals, food , allergies), cats can be predisposed to it, surgeries can cause it, trauma can cause it. Stress can cause flare ups of the symptoms, but so can allergies to certain foods, chemicals in litterboxes could affect it, all sorts of things. There isnt a whole lot known about Intersitital cystitis unfortunately.

I really feel for my cat having to have a Perineal Urethrostomy, he will probably develop some form of intersitial cystitis from this surgery. It is supposed to help in the long run. Having a form of intersitial cystitis myself, i feel for my cat. I know for a fact urinary issues are no fun!
 
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