Can A Cat With A Uti Give It To Another Cat?

What is a UTI in Cats?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of the urinary system in cats. The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. UTIs most commonly occur in the bladder, but can also develop in the urethra or kidneys [1].

Bacteria, often E. coli from the GI tract, travel up the urethra and into the bladder, causing an infection [2]. Unlike human urine, cat urine in the bladder is normally sterile. When bacteria get into the bladder and multiply, it leads to inflammation and infection.

Common symptoms of a UTI in cats include [3]:

  • Straining or crying when urinating
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Licking around the genital area

If left untreated, UTIs in cats can spread to the kidneys and cause more serious complications. So it’s important to get veterinary treatment for a suspected cat UTI right away.

How Do Cats Get UTIs?

Cats can develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) when bacteria enter their urinary tract and cause inflammation. There are several ways this can happen:

Bacteria can enter the urethra and travel upwards into the bladder, causing infection. Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria from feces near the cat’s genitals is a common cause (

Crystals or stones in the urinary tract can cause irritation and allow bacteria to take hold more easily. Struvite and calcium oxalate crystals are common in cats (

Structural abnormalities like tumors, bladder stones, or urethral obstructions can block urine flow and allow bacterial growth. Male cats are more prone due to their narrow urethras (

Bladder inflammation (cystitis) makes it easier for bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall and cause infection.

Can Cats Spread UTIs to Other Cats?

While UTIs can make cats very sick, the good news is that UTIs are not contagious among cats. Cats cannot directly transmit UTIs to one another. However, there are some situations where multiple cats in a home may develop UTIs in close succession.

Since cats do not spread UTIs through direct contact, if multiple cats in a home get UTIs, it is usually due to underlying risk factors that predispose the cats to infection. These risk factors include:

  • Sharing litter boxes: If an infected cat uses a litter box, disease-causing bacteria can contaminate the litter. Another cat using the same litter box could potentially come into contact with the bacteria and develop an infection. Using separate litter boxes for each cat helps reduce risk (
  • Fecal-oral transmission: Though rare, cats could ingest bacteria shed in an infected cat’s urine or feces and develop an infection.
  • Grooming behaviors: Communal grooming among cats may allow for bacteria transmission through saliva. However, this risk is low (

While multiple cats in a home may come down with UTIs, it is not due to direct contagion from cat-to-cat. Managing risk factors like communal litter boxes reduces potential for bacterial spread and UTI development in multi-cat households.

Risk Factors for Transmission

There are several factors that can increase the risk of a UTI spreading between cats in a home. These primarily relate to the number of cats, hygiene, and health status.

Households with multiple cats sharing litter boxes have an increased risk of transmitting UTIs between cats. With more cats using a litter box, there are more opportunities for infection to spread through contact with urine. Maintaining clean, separate litter boxes for each cat can help reduce transmission risks (Martinez-Ruzafa, 2012).

Poor litter box hygiene also raises transmission risks. Infrequent scooping and cleaning of litter boxes allows bacteria from an infected cat’s urine to accumulate. Thorough and regular litter box cleaning is important to reduce environmental contamination (VCA Hospitals).

A cat’s age and health status influences susceptibility to UTIs. Older cats and those with predisposing medical conditions like kidney disease or diabetes are at increased risk for infection. Their weakened immune systems make transmission from other cats more likely (Piyarungsri et al., 2020).

Preventing UTI Transmission

Proper litter box hygiene is crucial for preventing the spread of UTIs between cats. The litter boxes should be scooped at least once a day and the litter completely changed out every 1-2 weeks (source). Litter boxes should also be thoroughly disinfected with a pet-safe cleaner when changing the litter.

It’s recommended to have at least one litter box per cat, plus one extra in multi-cat households (source). This helps prevent sharing of litter boxes between sick and healthy cats. The litter boxes should be spread out in separate locations around the home.

Getting prompt veterinary care and treatment for any cat showing signs of a UTI is important to prevent transmission. Sick cats should be separated from healthy cats until the infection is cleared. Any underlying conditions contributing to UTIs in a cat, like kidney disease or diabetes, also need to be properly managed (source).

Treating a UTI in Cats

If your cat is diagnosed with a UTI, the most common treatment prescribed by veterinarians is antibiotics. Antibiotics like amoxicillin help fight the infection and provide relief to your cat (source). Your vet will prescribe the appropriate antibiotic and dosage based on your cat’s specific condition and symptoms.

In addition to antibiotics, your vet may recommend feeding your cat a therapeutic urinary tract cat food. These foods are designed to promote proper urinary tract health by increasing water intake, reducing bladder crystals and stones, and supporting urinary pH (source). This can help resolve the UTI while preventing recurrent infections.

It’s also important to address any underlying causes of your cat’s UTI, such as bladder stones, anatomical defects, or inappropriate urination habits. Your vet can provide advice on making changes to your cat’s environment, diet, or routine to minimize risk factors. With the right treatment, most cats make a full recovery from a UTI within 1-2 weeks.

When to See a Veterinarian

If a cat’s UTI symptoms persist or worsen despite home treatment, it’s important to see a veterinarian. According to, UTIs that don’t improve within 2-3 days require veterinary attention. Recurring UTIs also warrant a trip to the vet to determine and address the underlying cause.

In addition to persistent or recurrent UTI symptoms, other concerning signs that require veterinary assessment include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Straining or crying out when urinating
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Fever

Severe or advanced UTIs can lead to kidney damage or even kidney failure in cats. So it’s critical not to delay in getting veterinary treatment when home remedies don’t seem to be working or a cat’s symptoms are worsening. Prompt diagnosis and treatment from a vet can help prevent complications and minimize discomfort in cats with UTIs.

Outlook and Prognosis

With prompt veterinary treatment, the prognosis for cats with UTIs is generally good. Most uncomplicated UTIs will resolve within 7-10 days with appropriate antibiotic therapy. However, some cats may require a longer course of antibiotics, especially those with recurrent UTIs.

For cats prone to repeated UTIs, long-term management may be necessary to prevent recurrence. This can include lifestyle changes, dietary modification, supplements, and intermittent antibiotics. The prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the recurrent infections.

If an anatomical abnormality or obstruction is causing the UTIs, surgical correction may be recommended. With surgery and ongoing management, these cats can often lead normal lives. For UTIs with an unknown underlying cause, the long-term prognosis is less certain.

Overall, rapid treatment and close follow-up monitoring are key to ensuring a positive outcome. While UTIs can be frustrating to manage, most cats respond well to therapy and can recover fully with proper veterinary care and prevention strategies.

Monitoring Other Cats

If one cat in a multi-cat household has a UTI, it’s important to monitor the other cats closely for any signs of infection as well. UTIs can potentially spread between cats through contaminated litter boxes, food bowls, water bowls, and grooming/close contact. Pay close attention to the urine and litter box habits of the other cats, watching for symptoms like straining, frequent trips to the litter box, crying out, blood in the urine, and urinating outside the box.

If you notice any of these signs in another cat, take them to the veterinarian right away for an exam and urinalysis. Getting prompt veterinary attention can help treat a UTI quickly before it worsens. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics or recommend other treatments to help clear up the infection.

It’s also a good idea to have your vet periodically recheck the cats who had UTIs to ensure the infection has fully cleared, usually a week or two after finishing treatment. Stopping a UTI from spreading in a multi-cat home requires vigilance and quick action, but prompt veterinary care and monitoring can help prevent transmission.

Preventing UTIs in Cats

There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent their cats from developing UTIs:

Encourage water intake – Making sure your cat drinks plenty of water is one of the best ways to flush bacteria out of their urinary tract. Provide fresh, clean water at multiple stations around your home. Consider getting a cat water fountain, which many cats prefer over stagnant water bowls. Feed wet cat food, which has high moisture content. Avoid dry food, which can contribute to dehydration.

Wet food diets – Feeding canned or wet cat food, instead of dry kibble, can help increase your cat’s water intake and dilute their urine. Wet foods typically have much higher moisture content than dry foods. This helps produce more diluted urine which can flush bacteria from your cat’s urinary tract.

Annual vet checks – Take your cat to the vet annually for a wellness exam. Your vet can check for early signs of UTIs and other urinary tract problems. Annual bloodwork and urinalysis can help catch issues early before they turn into infections. Your vet may have specific diet or lifestyle recommendations to keep your cat’s urinary tract healthy.

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