Kneading is the motion cats make by rhythmically alternating their paws, pushing in and out against a pliable, soft object (such as a lap). Not all cats knead in the same way; some never push out their claws at all, and some even use all four paws. While not all cats knead, it is a common behavior for young and adult felines alike, so it’s likely your cat does it. Have you ever wondered why cats knead at all?

There are a few different ideas out there as to why. Some cats knead (and purr contentedly) when they’re being petted, but they may also do it for no clear reason. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular theories.

KID AT HEART

Cats start to knead as kittens, before they’re even able to get around on their own, while nursing from their mother. A nursing kitten instinctually kneads to help stimulate the mother’s milk production. Why do they continue to knead past nursing age? Even though kneading a soft surface doesn’t yield milk, adult cats forever associate the motion of kneading with the rewarding comfort of nursing.

LOVE HURTS

If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting him, he’s returning the affection and telling you he loves you right back. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, since the happier he is, the harder he’ll dig in with his sharp nails. Try placing a thick, soft barrier between the cat and your lap, or gently place him on his back and pet his belly if it gets too intense. However, do not punish your cat for this behavior — he doesn’t relaize it hurts. To better ensure the comfort of both you and your cat, make a habit of keeping his nails trimmed, or invest in nail guards to cover your cat’s nails.

STRE-E-E-TCH

Cats are natural yoga masters and love to work out all the kinks left over from napping. Think about it — if you have sore shoulders, it feels good to grab onto a surface and pull against it. Kneading is one of the many ways cats keep themselves limber … until the next nap.

BEDDING DOWN

The wild ancestors of domestic cats liked to lay down on soft, comfortable surfaces to either sleep or give birth to their young. By kneading down tall grass or leaves, cats were able to fashion a comfy spot to lay down in, and also possibly to check the ground for unwelcome visitors lurking under the foliage.

PAWS OFF — THAT’S MINE!

Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the ways they safeguard their turf is to scent-mark their belongings. By kneading their paws onto the surface of an area (yes, including you), they’re activating the scent glands located inside the soft pads on the bottom of their paws, thereby marking that item as theirs.

IS IT HOT IN HERE?

Female cats have an additional reason for kneading: they’re known to knead their paws just before going intoestrus — commonly known as “going into heat.” Kneading acts as a display to male cats that she wants and is able to mate.

***

Cats have many unique and amusing behavioral traits, and kneading is just one of them. So even though these are some of the more popular ideas for why cats are thought to knead, it certainly doesn’t provide all of the possible reasons. For example, some cats knead just before they’re about to take a nap. Whatever reason your cat kneads, the one thing all these ideas have in common is that kneading is natural, instinctual, and common cat behavior.

Article from https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why_do_cats_knead

We found the following article on The National Humane’s Society’s webpage and wanted to share it with you.

Common-sense tips, the latest recalls, and new FDA rules to protect your pets

While it’s nearly impossible to ensure that your pet will never come in contact with tainted pet food or treats, you can reduce your pet’s risk. Protect your pet by taking these four important steps:

 1. Follow common-sense tips for protecting your pet from harmful food

•  Start by practicing good hygiene with your pets’ food and water bowls.

•  Check our list of recalled foods and treats regularly for information about items that have been recalled. You may also want to join our online community to receive information about recalls via the Pet of the Week enewsletter.

•  If your pet’s food or treats are recalled, immediately stop feeding the product to your pet. You can return recalled products to the store where you purchased them for a full refund or dispose of them in a secure area not accessible to animals. If you have questions about recalled food or treats, contact the manufacturer.

•  If your pet may have consumed a recalled product, consult your veterinarian, even if your pet isn’t showing any symptoms.

2. File a complaint with the FDA if your pet has been poisoned

If your pet has become ill or died because of a tainted food or treats, please report it to The FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your state.

3. Watch this video from The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine

4. Help the FDA protect your pet

The FDA is proposing stronger rules on tainted pet food. Act now to make those rules effective:

5. Read recent FDA advisories on recalled pet food and treats

June 2, 2014: Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. Voluntary Recall of Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed™ Dry Dog Food in California, Hawaii and Nevada Because of Possible Salmonella Contamination

May 27, 2014: Pet Center, Inc. Voluntary Recall of 3 oz bag of Lamb Crunchy’s Because of Possible Salmonella Contamination

May 16, 2014: FDA Provides Latest Information on Jerky Pet Treat Investigation

May 14, 2014: Bravo® Issues Nationwide Recall of Pet Food for Dogs and Cats

April 10, 2014: The Robert Abady Dog Food Co., LLC Recalls “Abady Highest Quality Maintenance & Growth Formula for Cats” Because of Possible Health Risk

February 5, 2014: Pro-Pet LLC Recalls a Limited Number of Dry Dog and Cat Foods Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

January 28, 2014: PMI Nutrition, LLC Recalls Red Flannel® Cat Food Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

 

Original Article https://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/facts/pet_food_safety.html?credit=web_hpfs1_declawing_060514_id93480558

Spooky White CatCats need healthy feet to scratch, climb and achieve their famed acrobatic landings. That’s why it’s important to regularly examine and clean your cat’s paws and make sure they’re wound-free.

1. Footloose & Fancy Free

First things first—your cat’s feet should always be kept clean. No dirt, litter or household chemicals should soil her paws. Aside from causing pain, unhealthy substances that stick to her feet may end up on her tongue during grooming. Once each day, give your cat’s paws a gentle wipe with a damp cloth. Make sure to check in between her toes and around the paw pads. And keeping your floors and other surfaces free of debris and household chemicals will go a long way to help keep your cat’s feet (and your furniture) clean.

2. Curiosity…Gulp!

Cats are natural explorers who sometimes get into foreign places—it comes with the territory for both indoor and outdoor dwellers. So check your little wanderer’s paws regularly for any cuts, sores, splinters or swellings that may need tending to.

3. Scritch Scratch

Felines need to scratch to shed their outer nail sheaths that reveal the sharp, smooth claws underneath. Provide your kitty with a few different kinds of scratching posts so that she won’t get bored and choose to use your furniture. Encourage her to investigate the posts by scenting them with catnip.

4. Nail It

Prepare your cat for a nail-trimming by massaging his paws, so that she gets used to the feeling of having them touched. We recommend that you start by doing just one or two claws per session. When she seems calm and relaxed, follow these steps:

  • Apply gentle pressure to the top of the foot and cushiony pad underneath—this will cause her to extend her claws.
  • Use sharp, high-quality cat nail scissors to cut off the white tip of each nail, just before the point where it begins to curve.
  • Take care to avoid the quick, a vein that runs into the nail. This pink area can be seen through the nail.
  • If you do accidentally cut into this pink area, it may bleed, in which case you can apply some styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
  • Make sure you praise your cat and offer her a favorite treat whenever you handle her paws and trim nails.

5. Hairy Feet

Long-haired kitties may have hair sprouting in between their toes. If this irritates your cat (you’ll know if she licks at the hair obsessively), trim these lovely locks gently with a small pair of rounded scissors.

6. Happy Feet

Check your cat’s feet regularly to make sure they’re free of wounds and infections. Remove splinters or debris gently with tweezers and clean any small cuts. If you notice any blood, pus or an unusual odor, please take your cat to the vet to check for infection.

7. Protect the Pads

Be wary of your kitty’s sensitive paw pads. In hot and cold weather, moisturize them with a vet-recommended product and try to avoid letting your cat’s feet touch freezing patios, hot sidewalks or other uncomfortable surfaces.

8. Body Language

If you notice your cat obsessively cleaning her paws, limping or favoring one leg, please investigate—it might require veterinary attention.

9. It’s in the Genes

Most cats don’t suffer from foot problems, but doing a little research to find out what issues your kitty’s breed is susceptible to can be a great help in keeping her feet healthy.

10. Do Not Declaw

Declawing is a surgery that involves the amputation of the end of a cat’s toes and causes significant pain during recovery. Please honor your cat’s need to scratch by providing scratching posts, clipping her nails regularly and researching other ways to help manage destructive scratching.

Original Article https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/top-ten-paw-care-tips

Cat getting a bathWith her built-in grooming tools (tongue and teeth, of course), your fastidious feline is well-equipped to tackle her own haircare needs. But if she is very dirty or gets into something sticky or smelly, you may need to give her a bath. Read the following tips before you begin to ensure minimal stress and maximum efficiency.

1. Perfect timing: Schedule baths when your cat’s at her most mellow. A play session with a cat dancer or other toy of choice can help tire out even the friskiest of felines.

2. Clip, snip: For your own protection, ASPCA experts recommend trimming Fluffy’s claws before bathing.

3. The brush-off: Next, give your cat a good brushing to remove any loose hair and mats. Now’s also a good time to gently place some cotton in her ears to keep the water out.

4. Stand firm: Place a rubber bath mat in the sink or tub where you’ll be bathing your kitty so she doesn’t slip. Fill with three to four inches of lukewarm (not hot, please!) water.

5. Just add water: Use a hand-held spray hose to thoroughly wet your pet, taking care not to spray directly in her ears, eyes and nose. If you don’t have a spray hose, a plastic pitcher or unbreakable cup works great.

6. Lather up: Gently massage your pet with a solution of one part cat shampoo (human shampoo can dry out her skin) to five parts water, working from head to tail, in the direction of hair growth. Take care to avoid the face, ears and eyes.

7. All clear: Thoroughly rinse the shampoo off your cat with a spray hose or pitcher; again, be sure the water is lukewarm. Take good care that all residue has been removed, as it can irritate the skin and act as a magnet for dirt.

8. About face: Use a washcloth to carefully wipe your pet’s face. Plain water is fine unless her face is very dirty—in which case, we recommend using an extra-diluted solution of shampoo, being very cautious around her ears and eyes.

9. Dry idea: You’re almost there! Wrap your cat in a large towel and dry her with it in a warm place, away from drafts. If your kitty doesn’t mind the noise, you can use a blow dryer—on the lowest heat setting. And please note, if your pet has long hair, you may need to carefully untangle her fur with a wide-toothed comb.

10. Good girl!: Your little bathing beauty deserves endless praise—and her favorite treat—after all this! And with such a happy ending, next time she may find that bath time isn’t so bad.

Original Article http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/bathing-your-cat

There are a lot of reasons that you should spay or neuter your cat. Before we talk numbers, let’s look at why spayed or neutered cats live healthier lives. Female cats that are spayed can’t get uterine cancers; their risk of mammary (breast) cancer is reduced by 25%; and they are less prone to urinary tract infections and hormonal changes.1

Male cats that are neutered can’t get testicular cancer, and they live 40% longer than their unneutered counterparts.1 Unneutered male cats respond to the “call of the wild” and their desire to wander is fierce. Unneutered male cats may become aggressive toward other cats, increasing their risk of injury and becoming infected with feline leukemia and/or felineimmunodeficiency virus. And don’t forget: unneutered male cats tend to spray urine, which stinks!

Now for the numbers: aside from the important medical reasons for spaying or neutering, there is also a serious overpopulation problem in the United States. An average cat has 1–8 kittens per litter and 2–3 litters per year. During her productive life, one female cat could have more than 100 kittens. A single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years.2

Over 12 million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year and even more are abandoned.1 If you have any questions about spaying or neutering, please contact your veterinarian—they are the best resource for information about the health and well-being of your best friend.

 

1.Data on file at IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. Westbrook, Maine USA.
2.Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pets. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website. www.aspcapro.org/mydocuments/petfix-top-10-reasons.pdf. Accessed October 11, 2011.

Original Article: https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-spay-and-neuter/why-you-should-spay-or-neuter-your-cat-0

Small dog with red collar with paw on person's legIt seems like the most natural thing in the world—our pets need food, water, medical care and lots of love. But dogs and cats have other needs, too. Our furry friends need ample physical exercise and mental stimulation to lead truly full and happy lives.

“They need jobs,” says Kristen Collins, CPDT, ASPCA Animal Trainer. Dogs and cats need to stay busy and engaged, but unfortunately most pets are unemployed—daily they sit at home, chronically bored and waiting for their humans to return from work. And as we all know, an idle pet can quickly turn into a naughty pet when restlessness becomes overwhelming.

“With nothing to do, dogs and cats are forced to find ways to entertain themselves,” explains Kristen.  “Their activities of choice often include behaviors we find problematic, like excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.”

To prevent behavior and health problems, Kristen recommends the following physical and mental workouts—both when you’re there to join the fun and when your pet is home alone.

  1. Move it! Healthy adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day. Jogging, swimming and playing at the dog park are all great ways to burn excess energy.
  2. Engage in structured games, like fetch and tug-of-war—they’re not only great exercise but also teach your pet impulse control and strengthen the bond between you.
  3. Keep your dog occupied when he’s home alone by giving him a food-stuffed puzzle toy, like the Kong, or some tasty chew toys.
  4. Like their canine counterparts, cats also need plenty of aerobic exercise. Get kitty fit with rousing play sessions, such as chase and fetch with furry toys, small balls or toy mice.
  5. Encourage your cat’s favorite home alone activities, including bird watching, exploring paper bags or boxes, watching cat videos or spending time in secure outdoor enclosures.
  6. Teach your cat new tricks! Felines are quick studies and can learn practical skills like coming when called, sitting up, rolling over and even using the toilet!

Kristen adds: “The bottom line is that you’re responsible for enriching your pet’s life. Providing opportunities to exercise your cat or dog’s mind and body will keep her healthy and happy—and enhance your relationship, too.”

For more information about enriching your pet’s life, please check out expert advice from our Virtual Pet Behaviorist.

Original Article: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/furry-friends-need-fun-too-how-keep-your-pet-happy-and-active

Nutrition Tips for KittensIf you’re responsible for taking care of kittens in the first few months of their lives, you need to be prepared to move them from a diet of milk to regular kitten food. Our ASPCA nutrition experts tell you when and how it’s done with these easy top ten tips:

  1. Mother Knows Best 
    Newborn kittens receive complete nutrition from their mother’s milk for the first four weeks of life. Mom’s milk is 100 percent perfect for their needs, so you don’t need to feed them anything else.
  2. When Mom’s Not Around
    In the event that the mother cat is ill or doesn’t produce enough milk—or if the kittens are found as orphans—it may be necessary to feed the kittens a commercial milk replacer. If you find yourself in this situation, contact your veterinarian for product and feeding recommendations.
  3. They Grow Up So Fast! 
    During the first weeks of life, a kitten’s body weight may double or even triple. This rapid growth will continue, albeit at a decreasing rate, until maturity. Large amounts of energy and nutrients are required in balanced quantities to support this spectacular growth.
  4. Baby’s First Kibble 
    Kittens need large amounts of energy—about two to three times that of an adult cat. Kittens also need about 30 percent of their total energy from protein. Make sure the food you offer is specifically formulated for kittens. Your pet will need to eat kitten-formula food until she reaches maturity, at about one year of age.
  5. Best of Both Worlds
    By the time kittens are five to six weeks old, they should be nibbling on a high-quality dry food consistently even though they’re still nursing. This process of gradually introducing kitten food is important in training cats to eat as they are weaned.
  6. Eight Weeks = Weaned. Twelve Weeks = Off to College?! 
    Most mother cats will suckle their kittens until about eight weeks of age. By this time, 80 percent to 90 percent of the kitten’s total nutrient intake should be from kitten food.
  7. Weaning an Orphan
    Generally, orphaned or hand-fed kittens can be offered moistened kitten food at about three weeks of age. Use a commercial milk replacer to moisten the food, and gradually reduce the amount of milk replacer you use until the kittens are eating dry kitten food at about five or six weeks of age.
  8. Graze-y Days
    Kittens can be fed free-choice—which means food is available at all times, as much as the pet wants, whenever the pet wants. You can feed them dry kitten food or nutrient-dense kitten-formula canned food—however, the free-choice method is most appropriate when feeding dry food, which will not spoil if left out. If you have a dog in your home, make sure he can’t get to the kitten’s food (dogs just adore cat food!). Also, make sure fresh water is available at all times.
  9. Eat and Run
    At first, curious kittens will probably want to play with their food rather than eat it, but the youngsters will soon catch on and realize they are supposed to eat the food, not just bat it around!
  10. Special “Treat”ment
    It’s fine to feed your kitten a few treats. However, treats should make up no more than five percent of your kitten’s daily nutrient intake, and the rest of his/her diet should come from a high-quality kitten food.

Original Article https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/nutrition-tips-kittens

What Is Asthma?Orange cat with white paws looking straight ahead

Feline asthma—very similar to human asthma—is a chronic inflammation of the small passageways of a cat’s lungs. When an asthma attack occurs, these passageways thicken and constrict, making it very difficult for a cat to breathe. This often leads to respiratory distress, which can become grave in a matter of minutes. The lungs may also begin to discharge mucus into the airways, leading to fits of coughing and wheezing. Some cats with milder cases only experience a slight, chronic cough. Because asthma can quickly become a life-threatening health problem, any coughing cat needs a veterinary evaluation.

What Are the General Symptoms of Asthma in Cats?

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Squatting with shoulders hunched, neck extended and rapid breathing or gasping for breath
  • Gagging up foamy mucus
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Blue lips and gums
  • Labored breath after exertion
  • Overall weakness and lethargy

What Causes Asthma in Cats?

While there are a number of factors that contribute to asthma in cats, it is thought to develop as a result of allergic bronchitis. Allergic bronchitis occurs when the airways in a cat’s lungs become inflamed due to an inhaled allergen or other substance that stimulates the immune system.

Common factors that can contribute to the severity of an asthma attack include:

  1. Allergens, including pollens, molds, dust from cat litter, cigarette smoke, perfume and certain foods
  2. Pre-existing heart conditions or illnesses
  3. Parasites
  4. Extreme stress
  5. Obesity

Asthma-like symptoms in cats can also be associated with other disease, including heartworm, respiratory parasites, tumors, heart failure and pneumonia.

Are Asthma and Allergies Related?

Yes. Sensitivity to environmental pollutants and pollen can contribute to asthma in some cats.

Are Certain Cats More Prone to Asthma?

Asthma in cats usually develops between the ages of two and eight years old, with a higher occurrence in female cats than males. Siamese and Himalayan breeds and breed mixes seem to get asthma more frequently than other breeds.

What Should I Do If I Think My Cat Has Asthma?

Visit your veterinarian immediately if you think your cat has asthma. He or she will perform a physical examination and most likely recommend diagnostic tests to find out what’s causing the problem.

How Is Asthma in Cats Diagnosed?

Since symptoms of asthma can be similar to those seen with other diseases—heartworm, pneumonia and congestive heart failure, for example—it is important for your veterinarian to determine the cause of the attacks. There are no specific tests that prove asthma, but typically radiographs, blood work, evaluation of bronchial secretions and parasite tests will be performed to rule out other causes.

How Can My Cat’s Asthma Be Treated?

While there is no true cure for asthma, there are a number of methods for successfully managing it. Effective therapy may include medications that will open up breathing passages and reduce airway inflammation or modify the body’s immune response. Like in human asthma, medication is sometimes administered through a specially adapted inhaler.

How Can I Help Prevent My Cat From Having an Asthma Attack?

  1. Have your cat tested routinely for internal parasites.
  2. Reduce stress in your pet’s environment, as it tends to worsen allergy and asthma symptoms.
  3. Do not use perfumes, room fresheners, carpet deodorizers, hairspray, aerosol cleaners, etc., around your cat.
  4. Avoid using cat litters that create a lot of dust, scented litters or litter additives.
  5. Dry air encourages asthma attacks, so keep a good humidifier going—especially during the winter months.
  6. Keep your kitty’s weight down and her body active!
  7. And please remember, no cat should be exposed to cigarette smoke—but if your cat has asthma, cigarette smoke is an absolute no-no.

Original Link https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/asthma

Information found at https://oregonvma.org/care-health/your-puppy-or-kittens-first-visits-veterinarian

A good start in life is critical for your pet and your veterinarian plays a vital role. Puppies and kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult animals, a greater sensitivity to drugs, and a greater susceptibility to diseases and parasites, so it’s important that they are examined by a veterinarian during their first weeks of life.

Here’s what to expect from your puppy or kitten’s first visits to the veterinarian:

Physical Examination

Your veterinarian should perform a complete health check, including detection of diseases and congenital abnormalities.

Parasite Control

Start a program for detection, elimination and prevention of intestinal parasitesfleas and heartworms.

Spay or Neuter Procedures

Your veterinarian can counsel you on and perform spay or neuter procedures. This procedure will help avoid potential medical and behavioral problems, as well as to combat pet overpopulation. It is recommended that pets be altered before they reach sexual maturity, which is between 7 to 9 months of age.

Vaccinations

kitten and girl

Your veterinarian can counsel you on the dangers of various diseases that can be prevented with routine vaccinations. Some of these diseases, such as canine parvovirus, can be highly contagious and sometimes fatal to young pets. Your veterinarian will discuss which of these diseases are the most prevalent in your area and make recommendations for appropriate immunizations.

Rabies vaccination is required by Oregon law for all dogs; Multnomah County requires the vaccination for cats as well.

Identification

All pets should have some sort of identification, whether it be a collar and a tag with your name and address on it or a microchip implanted under the skin. These help to ensure your pet will find its way home should it become lost.

Behavior Counseling

puppy and boy

The most frequent reason a pet is returned or otherwise surrendered to a shelter is due to behavioral problems. These problems can become so severe they necessitate euthanasia of the pet. Your veterinarian can counsel you on basic training and behavioral issues. This will ensure your pet will be a treasured member of the family and not a “problem child.” The sooner you get started with training, the better.

If you desire more advanced training, your veterinarian may be able to recommend someone in your area that has classes you and your pet can attend.

Socializing your puppy is an important part of this training. Socialization is the process by which a dog learns how to behave appropriately with others in its environment. Learn more about behavior issues.

Nutritional Counseling

Since the most active growth period for young dogs and cats is the first 7 to 10 months, advice on the best choice of diet is important. Overweight or malnourished pets face serious health risks.

Health Insurance

Along with the joys of a new puppy or kitten come the responsibilities of pet ownership, including meeting the cost of veterinary care. An increasing number of pet owners are choosing to purchase pet health insurance policies for their pets. Such policies typically provide reimbursement coverage for your pet’s eligible medical treatments, surgeries, lab fees, X-rays, and prescriptions.

A good time to obtain coverage for a pet is when they are young. Older pets may have medical conditions that would be excluded from coverage. As with people, older pets may incur higher premiums. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a company or plan that he or she has experience with.

FELINE IDIOPATHIC LOWER URINARY TRACT DISEASE IN CATS

https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/urinary/feline_idiopathic_lower_urinary_tract_disease

Idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (IFLUTD) is a general term for disorders characterized by blood in the urine, difficult or painful urination, abnormal, frequent passage of urine, urinating in inappropriate locations (ie., bath tub), and partial or complete blockage of the urethra. Also known as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), or Interstitial Cystitis, this treatable condition occurs in the bladder and urethra of the lower urinary tract; that is, the tube from the bladder to the outside, through which urine flows out of the body.

Idiopathic feline urinary tract disease, and inflammation of the bladder for unknown reasons, are diagnosed only after known causes such as kidney stones or urinary tract infection have been eliminated. Any of the above symptoms or combination of these symptoms may be associated with feline lower urinary tract disease. The same symptoms may apply to diversely different infections, and pinpointing the exact cause for the condition can be complicated, since the feline urinary tract responds to various outside influences in a limited and predictable fashion.

This disease occurs in both male and female cats. The incidence of blood in the urine, difficult or painful urination, and/or blockage of the urethra in domestic cats in the U.S. and U.K. has been reported at approximately 0.5 percent to 1 percent per year. While it can occur at any age, it is found most commonly cats between the ages of one and four-years-old. It is uncommon in cats less than one year of age and in cats greater than 10 years of age.

SYMPTOMS AND TYPES

  1. Difficult or painful urination
  2. Blood in the urine
  3. Abnormal, frequent passage of urine
  4. Urinating in inappropriate locations
  5. Blockage of urine flow through the urethra to outside the body
  6. Thickened, firm, contracted bladder wall, felt by the veterinarian during physical examination
  7. Some cats with lower urinary tract diseases exhibit similar symptoms to those observed in humans withinterstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome)

CAUSES

By definition, this is a disease that arises spontaneously, or for which the cause is unknown. There are many possible causes, including noninfectious diseases like interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome); viruses, such as a calicivirus, a feline syncytium-forming virus, or a gamma herpesvirus can be some of the potential causes for an infection. Frequently, idiopathic lower urinary tract diseases will occur without the presence of a significant amount of bacteria or white blood cells in the urine (white blood cells spilling into the urine would show that an infection is being fought off by the body); studies of male and female cats with and without blockage of the urethra found bacterial urinary tract infections in less than three percent of young-to-middle-age adult cats, and approximately ten percent of senior cats. Stress may play a role in the cause of the condition (due to lowered resistance), or in making the condition worse, but it is unlikely to be a primary cause of the urinary infection.

DIAGNOSIS

Your veterinarian will rule out a range of disorders in arriving at a diagnosis. Some possibilities are metabolic disorders including various types of kidney stones and obstructions. A urinalysis will be ordered, as well as blood tests to determine whether a bacterial, fungal, or parasitic disease is causing the symptoms. A detailed physical examination will determine whether physical trauma, disorders of the nervous system, anatomical abnormalities, or something as simple as constipation, could be the factors behind the symptoms.

X-rays are useful in locating kidney stones if they are suspected, and your veterinarian may want to conduct a cystocopy to determine whether there might be cysts, stones, or polyps in the urinary tract.

TREATMENT

If your cat does not have blockage of the urethra, it will probably be managed on an outpatient basis, although diagnostic evaluation may require brief hospitalization. If your cat does have blockage of the urethra, it will most likely be hospitalized for diagnosis and management.

For cats with persistent presence of crystals in the urine associated with plugs in the urethra that are causing blockage of the urethra, appropriate dietary management will be recommended. Observations suggest that feeding moist rather than dry foods may minimize recurrence of signs. The goal is to promote flushing of the bladder and urethra by increasing urine volume, thereby diluting the concentrations of toxins, chemical irritants, and substances that can add to the components that produce urinary tract stones and lead to inflammation of the bladder and urinary tract. Whether prescriptions medications are used will depend upon the diagnosis.

LIVING AND MANAGEMENT

Your veterinarian will want to continue to monitor blood in the urine by urinalysis, and will recommend a diet that will help with healing and prevent recurrence. It is wise to keep stress as low as possible for your cat, and you will need to be diligent in giving medications on the schedule prescribed by your veterinarian.

If catheters have been used to retrieve urine from the bladders, there may be some trauma that could lead to infection. You will need to be aware of this possibility and watch for symptoms. Surgery can sometimes also increase the likelihood of infection, and scarring from surgery may narrow the urethra, making urination more difficult. Signs of urinary tract infection generally subside within four to seven days following treatment. If they do not subside, you will need to return to your veterinarian for further treatment.

PREVENTION

The means of preventing recurrence will depend upon diagnosis. If there is something in your pet’s environment that is found to have brought the condition on, you will, of course, be advised to make changes.