What Causes Bladder Infections in Cats?


CalicoPaul Lewis | more info (via: Wylio)
Dear Dr. Eric Barchas, my three year old female cat has been diagnosed with a bladder infection. Her vet asked me to crush an antibiotic pill twice a day and put in her food for two weeks. Two weeks later I collected her urine and she was rechecked again. Her vet said she still had bacteria in her bladder and red/white cells in her urine. She was given an injection of Convenia and I was asked to bring her back in another two weeks with another urine sample for analysis. Her vet said she may have a polyp and will need an ultrasound and another urine test while sedated if her red/white cells haven’t changed since her last urine test. My question is do you think dry food may have contributed to her bladder infection? She drinks about a half cup of water per day, but only urinates once a day. I’m panicking with the thought of her maybe having cancer causing her red/white cells being in her urine. Thank you for your input; I always enjoy your emails.


Red and white blood cells in the urine most frequently are caused by bladder infections. FLUTD, a condition in which the bladder becomes inflamed without the presence of an infection, also can lead to blood cells in the urine.

Bladder infections occur when bacteria reside in the bladder. Food cannot cause a bladder infection, but it can lead to urine chemistry that favors the growth of bacteria if they are introduced into the bladder (a cat’s own feces is by far the most common source of bacteria in bladder infections). Food definitely is linked to FLUTD.

There are a few causes of persistent bladder infections such as you describe. The most common cause is use of the wrong antibiotic. If the bacteria in your cat’s bladder are resistant to the antibiotics you’ve used, the infection will not resolve. Polyps, tumors, bladder stones, and anatomical irregularities also may cause persistent urinary tract infections.

I strongly recommend that you get the ultrasound. It hopefully will put your mind at ease about the possibility of a tumor. It also will enable your vet to collect a urine sample by tapping the bladder with a needle. This sample then can be cultured so that the type of bacteria in the bladder can be identified. The most effective antibiotic can be selected based on culture and sensitivity results as well.

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