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How to Tell if a Cat has a Urinary Tract Infection

By Patti Wigington | Updated September 26, 2017

Items you will need

  • Cat

  • Empty litter box

It's not uncommon for domestic pets to develop urinary tract infections. In fact, some pets are more prone to them than others. Although UTIs are more common in dogs than cats, cats who do get them tend to get infections repeatedly. Typically, when a cat has chronic urinary problems, it's due to the formation of crystals in the urinary tract. This can become painful and must be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a vet.

Watch to see if the cat is using the litter box. If urination is painful, they often start using any nearby surface because an inflamed bladder doesn't hold urine for long. Most cats will find a cool, smooth surface to urinate on rather than using the scratchy sand in their litter box. If you start noticing your cat squatting on a tile floor, in your tub, on a pair of shoes, or any other inappropriate place, she may have a UTI.

Check for excessive grooming of the genital area. Although cats typically groom this area a lot, they'll do it a lot more when they have a UTI. After all, it hurts to urinate, and grooming makes the area feel better.

Listen to hear if the cat cries or makes sounds of pain when urinating. Although uncommon, some cats do cry when they have pain from a urinary tract infection.

Check for blood in the urine. You can do this by locking the cat in a bathroom overnight with an empty, clean litter box. Cats usually urinate more at night, and if their litter box is in the room with them, they'll prefer to use it if they can. By keeping the sand or gravel out of it, you'll be able to see the urine at the bottom of the pan in the morning. If the urine has pink or reddish streaks, there is probably blood in the urine.

Call your vet. Although you can prevent further UTIs by changing diet and adding special urinary health supplements to your cat's meal, an existing infection must be treated by a veterinarian. Take the cat in as soon as possible so she can be started on antibiotics and heal quickly.


Patti Wigington has been writing for nearly twenty years. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites and in a number of print publications, and she spent five years as a staff writer for a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper. She is the author of a children's book, a novel for middle grade readers, and two adult novels.