Urinary tract infections (also called cystitis, FLUTD or FUS) are extremely common in cats. Cats that are stressed, elderly or immunocompromised are at the highest risk of developing urinary tract infections, but all cats can be affected. In males, infections may lead to a blockage of the urethra, a condition that can rapidly become fatal if it is not treated immediately. Nevertheless, home remedies can be safe, effective methods for eliminating mild-to-moderate cystitis in female cats and those that are at a low risk of complication.
The vast majority of urinary tract infections occur in cats that are fed an exclusively dry-food diet. Cats are biologically adapted to consume a significant amount of water from food, so many housecats do not drink enough to successfully flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Cystitis can be prevented through the use of wet foods, whether they are given occasionally or exclusively. Cat guardians should add extra water to the food to encourage the cat to consume more fluids.
In numerous trials using humans, rats and other mammals, cranberry has demonstrated a remarkable ability to dislodge bacteria from the urinary tract. This can be an equally successful home remedy for cats with cystitis. Some cats will eagerly drink cranberry juice mixed with water, but others will need to be given a softgel pill containing concentrated cranberry flavonoids. Additionally, immunostimulant herbs like echinacea, goldenseal and oregano can help to battle the pathogenic bacteria that cause feline urinary tract infections.
Vitamin C is an excellent home remedy for stimulating immune response in cats, so it is essential for cats with cystitis. Many veterinarians have also had success using vitamin E in the treatment of urinary tract infections, which appears to be completely nontoxic to cats even in megadoses. Regardless of the cat’s health status, pet guardians should make sure that cats are eating a balanced, nutritious diet with adequate levels of key vitamins and minerals. Additionally, stress-reduction measures—including extra petting and decreased noise—can help to decrease a cat’s susceptibility to urinary tract infections.