Lower Urinary Tract Infection (Bacterial) in Cats

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Last updated on
3 min read

Key takeaways

Bacterial lower urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when a bacterial infection arises in the urethra or bladder.

  • UTIs commonly develop in association with a number of other conditions in cats such as urinary stones, constipation, megacolon, or other urinary tract diseases
  • UTIs are uncomfortable, and cats benefit from prompt veterinary intervention
  • Most UTIs are not life-threatening, although some associated conditions are more severe than others
  • Routine diagnostics include a physical examination, bloodwork, urinalysis, and urine culture tests 
  • UTIs are treated with antibiotics, alongside targeted treatment for any concurrent conditions
  • Prognosis depends on whether underlying conditions are present, the severity of these conditions, and whether the UTIs recur
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A closer look: Lower Urinary Tract Infection (Bacterial) in Cats

UTIs are usually more uncomfortable than they are dangerous. Some conditions that develop alongside (or contribute to) a UTI are more severe than others, such as cancer or kidney disease. Symptoms of urinary tract infections require prompt veterinary attention.

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Risk factors

Overall, UTIs are rare in cats. Other forms of urinary tract disease, such as bladder inflammation, urinary stones, and feline lower urinary tract disease are more common. Cats with predisposing factors for urinary tract diseases are at highest risk of urinary tract infections.

In rare cases, steroid administration for treating another condition can lead to a UTI, due to immune suppression. Other causes of immunosuppression, such as feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus may predispose cats to developing UTIs. Female cats are also at an increased risk.

Due to the wide range of conditions associated with bacterial UTIs, general symptoms of illness may be present alongside specific symptoms.

Possible causes

UTIs develop as a result of bacterial contamination of the urinary tract. Objects such as stones or crystals can encourage bacterial growth, as can compromised immune system function due to other diseases or injuries.

Main symptoms

Testing and diagnosis

Diagnostics include:

  • Physical examination
  • Bloodwork
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine culture
  • Cystoscopy
  • Diagnostic imaging

Steps to Recovery

Antibiotics treat the infection, and any predisposing conditions are treated as required. Multiple followup visits may be needed to monitor recovery and ensure the infection resolves.

Most urinary tract infections that do not have associated underlying conditions have an excellent prognosis. When underlying conditions are present, prognosis is variable, due to the diversity of conditions which lead to (or develop alongside) a UTI. UTIs may also recur, especially in cats that have concurrent kidney disease or immunosuppression.


Addressing underlying conditions is the best method of preventing a UTI. If a pet has developed recurrent urinary tract infection, a thorough work-up to identify any predisposing causes may be useful. Once identified, many predisposing causes can be treated, reducing the recurrence of UTIs.

A bacterial UTI is not contagious, however some underlying conditions may be, such as feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus.

Is Lower Urinary Tract Infection (Bacterial) in Cats common?

Bacterial UTIs are rare in young cats, and more common in older cats. Other forms of urinary disease carry similar symptoms and are more common in cats than bacteria UTI.

Typical Treatment

  • Antibiotics

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