Behind blue eyes

Punishment is counter-productive in cat training – use methods that reward good behaviour and use prevention to deal with unwanted behaviour.

What is urinary tract infection in cats? How do I identify and treat it?

Signs that your cat is suffering from urinary tract infection are as follows:

Straining to urinate

Bladder inflammation is the most common cause of lower urinary tract disease in cats. This inflammation, in turn, can lead to straining when urinating. It can eventually even lead to more severe and emergency situations like the formation of stones in the bladder or the formation of a urethral plug, which is a life-threatening condition that causes the cat (almost always male) to become "blocked" (i.e., unable to urinate).

Frequent attempts to urinate

Cats with urinary tract disease often urinate an abnormal amount of times each day because little to no urination is being evacuated each time. This is obviously very frustrating and also dangerous for the cat because when a cat is blocked it is unable to rid itself of bodily toxic waste products through urine.

Painful urination

The pain associated with urinary tract disease may be so severe that some cats will lick their penile or vaginal area (or at times the abdominal area) as a way to try and self-soothe. Cats with urinary tract disease may also be more irritable than usual.

Blood in urine

Cats with urinary tract disease will often have urine which is blood-tinged or discoloured. Females are at a greater risk of urinary tract infections that lead to blood in the urine than males.

Urinating outside the litter box

Urinating outside of the litter box is not always a medical issue, but you should be concerned of it, especially when combined with any of the other before mentioned symptoms.

If your cat is having trouble urinating and displaying other signs, take her to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will give her a physical exam and collect urine samples. Blood work, x-rays, and abdominal ultrasound may also be recommended for diagnosis.

Most cases improve without medical treatment, but the symptoms can recur. Though they may not be life-threatening to your cat, they can be uncomfortable, so treatment can improve her overall quality of life. While the treatment depends on the underlying cause, it is always beneficial to increase your cat's water intake. Maintaining a healthy weight, feeding her canned food and encouraging her to use her litter box can also help. However, certain conditions simply cannot be treated at home. Bacterial cystitis should be treated with antibiotics, while stones must be surgically removed.

Can cats be trained?

Yes, but it depends on what you want the cat to know. Like dogs, cats only know what you teach them (though they do come somewhat "programmed" to use a litter pan). Teach them proper behaviour from the start.

Punishment is counter-productive in cat training, so use methods that reward good behaviour instead, and use prevention to deal with unwanted behaviour.

Cats dislike sticky or otherwise uncomfortable surfaces, so scratching and counter-surfing can often be eliminated by attaching double-sided tape, aluminium foil, or carpet runner pieces with the nubbly side up. If the countertop, furniture, or other area becomes an uncomfortable place to hang out, the cat will learn to avoid it – even when you are not around.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to

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