Cat with a UTI and possibly stones?
March 23, 2012 7:47 AM   Subscribe

My 3 year old female cat (DSH) is having urinary issues. We are on day 9 of antibiotics for a UTI (she had no crystals on her UA)and she is not improving. She will be going to the vet for a recheck soon, but I'd really like to hear other people's experiences with UTIs and bladder stones in cats. Does anyone recommend a particular supplement like cranberry? Should I ask the veterinarian to culture her urine for the right antibiotic? Money is in short supply, but I LOVE my cat and will do whatever it takes to get her better.

Since I know people will ask, we feed Natural Balance low calorie dry food (she is overweight but not obese) Probably body condition score of 4 out of 5. We got her at the humane society, and they thought she was 1 and 1/2 years old at the time. She would now be 3, and has never shown urinary syptoms like this since we've had her. She frequently urinates, when she goes, it is in small amounts, though she stays squatting in position for a couple minutes (no obvious straining, but maybe this is just not observable?). She has started going out of the box, the urine has blood in it, and she does seem quite painful, we catch her licking down there, which we discourage by distracting her with toys.
I used to be a vet assistant, and to be honest, I don't think I ever saw a cat that had stones- only dogs. How common are bladder or kidney stones (since her urinalysis didn't show crystals) in cats?
She is on Clavamox twice a day, but we have not seen improvement! My vet bills are really adding up, so I just want to know when I should say no to an unnecessary test or if there is a treatment people have tried that really doesn't help. One thing they asked me was "Does she drink a lot of water?" Probably not quite as much as our other cat drinks, though we have more than one water bowl. She likes to dip her paw and then lick water off that way. I am looking into purchasing a water fountain type device for cats. So any recommendations on brands or models of those are GREATLY appreciated!!!

Simple advice like "call your vet" is not helpful. They said if after 2 weeks on antibiotics she isn't better to bring her in. I am not particularly happy with our current vet clinic (we go to Brickyard Animal Hospital in SLC, UT). So her next visit will probably be at a new hospital....

I am really grateful for responses! I love this cat SOOOO much- she really is one of the best cats I've ever known and I want to get her better!
posted by biograd08 to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Also: the amount of blood in her urine is noticeable- lightly pink, but not bright red.
I am trying to get her to eat moist food as well, but she seems to prefer dry.
Since she does seem painful should I ask for a pain reliever?
posted by biograd08 at 8:08 AM on March 23, 2012

I've added cranberry to cat's food before, 1 capsule sprinkled over a couple tablespoons of yogurt, when I suspected things were out of balance. No ill effects, seemed to help.

The best thing I've heard of for UTIs is increased hydration. In the short-term, the vet can teach you how to sub-q hydrate at home. In the long term, I've had great results from adding 1/4 cup of water to dry food, or switching to canned food altogher.
posted by MeiraV at 8:12 AM on March 23, 2012

Sorry -- didn't read enough.

You're a vet tech? Totally begin sub-q hydrating her and switch her to canned food.
posted by MeiraV at 8:14 AM on March 23, 2012

Have you ruled out idiopathic cystitis? Only about 2% of cats with this condition actually have a bacterial infection, so that might be why the Clavamox isn't doing anything.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2012

1. How did they obtain her urine for the UA? Free catch, cystocentesis, or catheter? Cysto is always best for getting the most accurate results.

2. Should I ask the veterinarian to culture her urine for the right antibiotic? From my perspective culture and sensitivity should be performed . This is good veterinary medicine. If your vet didn't talk to you about doing a C&S I would find another vet. Where I work this is standard.

3. I like the PetMate brand water fountains best and so do my cats. The downside is there is a lot of maintenance involved. Many of the fountains have these tiny nooks and crannies that need to cleaned using a Q tip or pipe cleaner, which can a pain.

4. Monitor your cat’s hydration status throughout the day. You said you were a vet assistant so I’m assuming you know about monitoring hydration using skin turgor and sticky/tacky mucus membranes. If you don’t you can memail. If she’s dehydrated you should talk to your vet about doing SubQ fluids at home. I would also switch over to wet food. This is the first thing I did for my cat with CRF and needed to increase his daily water intake.

5. A 4/5 while not classified as “obese” is still too much. You should be talking with your vet about how to best get her down to a 3. Cats suffer tremendously from being overweight.

6. I don't think I ever saw a cat that had stones- only dogs. Cystitis and stones are VERY common in cats, and unfortunately can be life threatening. Please read Feline Urinary Tract Health: Cystitis, Urethral Obstruction, Urinary Tract Infection by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM.

7. As for the pain, cystitis is quite painful, and from what you've described your cat sounds fairly uncomfortable. . Your vet should have considered this in her treatment plan and discussed pain management options with you. Call your DVM now to discuss pain management.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also check out this article on kidneys stones in cats.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:50 AM on March 23, 2012

We also have a petmate fountain. It was way cheaper than the alternatives and all three of our kitties love it. It's kind of a pain to clean, but we are big fans. When the pump stopped working, I tried to buy a new one and the petmate website made me try to clean it first using their directions and it saved the day. Yes, made me. They put up a page where it said, most pumps can be fixed by taking it apart like this. Have you tried it? Come back if you have and it didn't work. You don't see service like that very much.
posted by advicepig at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2012

There is no point in a culture now since she has been on antibiotics. A culture a week or so after the last dose is a good idea. Rather than low cal dry, consider switching to high quality canned. It's better for cats in all respects. Especially cats with urinary issues.
posted by biscotti at 9:56 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much OsoMeaty and everyone. I think I will be switching to canned food after reading the links. The veterinarian I used to work for believed dry was better- mostly from the dental aspect I believe.
It was free-catch, and I think they just saw blood on the strip and gave me antibiotics. Needless to say, I'm not going back to that clinic. I do think she needs pain management. So now the hunt for a new vet clinic begins.
posted by biograd08 at 11:03 AM on March 23, 2012

My cat's urinary tract problems were linked to him not drinking enough water. Even though we replaced his bowl of still water regularly, he had no interest. Like advicepig, we invested in a fountain. Since the cat is extremely interested in human water, I also keep coffee mugs next to the bathroom sink and refill them with fresh water every time I use the bathroom -- I catch him sipping regularly out of the mugs. And we started feeding him canned food, which obviously contains more water than the dry stuff. Several years on, we've had no additional issues.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:17 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

mostly from the dental aspect I believe

Yeah, that is the draw back with wet food unfortunately. Switching to wet food definitely calls vigilant dental care.

Finding a quality veterinary clinic can be tough. A good place to start the search is The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) website for pet owners. They also have a great section on pain management in cats and dogs.

I hope your kitty starts to feel better soon! Good luck with everything!
posted by OsoMeaty at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2012

I came in to say she needs more water. My cat is not a water drinker. So, switching my cat to wet food was one of the first things I did when he had bladder problems, crystals, and pink pee. It really was a necessary thing to do for his health.

The vet put him on prescription food, C/D wet cat food from Hill's. The C/D food is designed to help with bladder problems, and the cans are about the same price as regular canned food. My cat was also taking Cosequin for a while, which is supposed to help with bladder issues. (It comes in a pill that can be opened and the powder mixed into the wet food.)

It's been almost 2 years now, and my cat's bladder issues have not returned. He got better almost immediately (within the next 2 weeks).
posted by jabberjaw at 1:20 PM on March 23, 2012

One of my cats had a bladder stone last year. Her urine issues sound similar to your cat's--tiny little pees, some straining but not much, and pinkish urine. My cat even used to eat Natural Balance.

We finally discovered the stone when she had an ultrasound after a few rounds of antibiotics didn't resolve anything, and after the vet tried x-raying her bladder but didn't see anything. She had surgery and has been symptom free for over a year. She now eats Royal Canin urinary s/o food, but it's prescription only. She doesn't like wet food, but does drink a lot of water.
posted by apricot at 2:26 PM on March 23, 2012

I've had good luck with switching my male American Shorthair to a "urinary tract health" formula cat food, after he had a crystals. These foods are pretty commonly available. It sounds like your cat is having a worse time than mine though, so YMMV.
posted by ephemerae at 2:30 PM on March 23, 2012

There is no point in a culture now since she has been on antibiotics.*

Biscotti makes an excellent point that a C & S should always be performed before ABs are started.

*Doh! Should of thought of that myself.
posted by OsoMeaty at 3:06 PM on March 23, 2012

My cat is just now recovering from surgery for bladder stones, and your description sounds a LOT like what she went through (frequent urination, bloody, small amounts, etc). The vet first started her on antibiotics for a UTI and then when it didn't clear up, found large bladder stones on an xray. Find a new vet, and ask for an xray or ultrasound. You'll want to do this soon. My vet said UTIs can lead to bladder stones, or it can be diet, or something else...we're waiting on the results of the stone culture to find out what actually caused hers. She's also now on the Royal Canin urinary s/o food. (Apricot, it's really a relief to hear your cat is symptom-free a year out!)

The surgery wasn't fun, but we've already noticed a big improvement, three weeks out--she seems much better and happier.
posted by min at 6:58 PM on March 23, 2012

Dry food only helps with teeth if it's specifically designed to (like Hill's t/d), regular dry food is no longer thought to help at all with dental health (we did think it helped previously, but it's now been shown not to have any positive effects on dental health for most cats). So there is really no reason to feed dry unless your cat just won't eat canned.
posted by biscotti at 7:00 PM on March 23, 2012

I also wanted to add, our vet had us bring her back in for another check up when she wasn't better 3-4 days after starting antibiotics. Two weeks seems like a long time, I would definitely say you should try a different vet.

And good luck. This is so horrible and stressful for both you and kitty, and I hope she gets better soon!
posted by min at 7:01 PM on March 23, 2012

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