Q: I am in the process of moving and my cat seems to have developed another urinary tract infection. She will be 14 this fall and I can’t get her in to see my vet with all that is going on. Besides, she is a nervous calico cat who gets stressed easily and hates going in to see her doctor. Visits include lots of howling and hissing and sometimes it takes a few staff to work on her. They have even given me medication to quiet her down. The signs are typical: She goes in and out of her litter box and when she is in there, she seems to be straining to urinate. Is there anything that I can give her to ease what she seems to be going through? All of the previous times this has happened, my vet puts her on antibiotics, and she gets better within a few days. Why does this keep happening to her?.
A: Cats that are prone to urinary tract infections often have an underlying metabolic issue that coupled with certain diets can make the pH of the urine less than optimum, leading to crystals, stones and a predisposition to infections. Known as feline urologic syndrome or feline lower urinary tract disease, as such, these cats often need to be maintained on special diets to prevent recurrences. Is she on such a diet? I also wonder what diagnostics have been done for her previously including urinalyses and possibly radiographs to rule out bladder stones, something I wrote about in this column not long ago. This may be why you see recurrences.
You wrote that you are moving and that leads me to another possible diagnosis. What your cat has currently may be a UTI, but it could also be something called idiopathic cystitis. It sounds as if your cat is one of those calico cats that is easily stressed and anxious. It is these types of cats that most easily develop this inflammatory condition. The signs are similar to one seen with a UTI, but diagnostics prove negative. Since you have some medications to calm her, probably something called gabapentin, you might try giving that for a few days but check with your veterinarian first.
There are other mood-altering substances like catnip or other prescriptions that might help.
Antibiotics are sometimes given to no real avail and anti-inflammatory medications can help.
Increase her water intake by using wet foods. Despite all that is going on with the move, if your cat is straining and you see any blood, find a way to get her in to be seen since the condition is uncomfortable, if not painful. Lastly, if you cannot get her in, contact a housecall veterinarian to see her or ask if your veterinarian might prescribe something to help this one time. Hope your cat feels better soon and good luck with the move.
Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.