Do Cats Stop Eating When They Have a UTI? The Surprising Truth


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common health problem in cats, especially as they age. Feline UTIs can cause discomfort, pain, and even severe illness if left untreated. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments for cat UTIs is important for any cat owner.

UTIs occur when bacteria gets into the urinary tract and multiplies, causing inflammation and infection. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs can affect any part of a cat’s urinary tract, but most commonly occur in the bladder.

Cat UTIs should not be ignored, as they can lead to more serious complications if untreated. By learning the signs of a potential UTI, cat owners can get veterinary help promptly and relieve their cat’s discomfort. This article will cover the key questions surrounding feline UTIs, including if cats stop eating when they have this condition.

What is a UTI in Cats?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in a cat’s urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. It is caused by bacteria, most commonly E. coli, entering the urinary tract and multiplying in the bladder (

Symptoms of a UTI in cats include (

  • Straining or crying out when urinating
  • Frequently trying to urinate but passing only small amounts
  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Accidents outside the litter box

UTIs develop when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra and multiplies in the bladder, causing inflammation. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys.

Do Cats Stop Eating with a UTI?

Yes, it is common for cats to experience a decreased appetite or stop eating altogether when they have a urinary tract infection (UTI) [1]. A UTI causes inflammation, irritation, and discomfort in the urinary tract, which can make a cat feel too unwell to eat. The infection itself, as well as the pain and frequent urges to urinate caused by it, may suppress a cat’s normal appetite.

A lack of appetite or not eating at all is one of the most common symptoms of a feline UTI. Along with lethargy, hiding, and other behavioral changes, loss of appetite is a key sign that a cat is feeling ill and something is wrong. Cats typically have a strong, persistent appetite, so any decrease in food intake or lack of interest in food is an abnormal change that warrants attention. If a normally energetic, food-motivated cat starts refusing meals and snacks, a veterinary visit is often needed to diagnose and treat the underlying issue, such as a UTI.

In summary, appetite loss is a classic symptom of UTIs in cats. The discomfort, inflammation, frequent urination urges, and overall sickness caused by the infection can override a cat’s normal hunger cues. So if a cat stops eating, especially combined with other symptoms like hiding or straining to urinate, a UTI is likely the cause and should be treated by a vet. Catching the issue early maximizes the chances of a quick recovery and return to normal eating habits.

Why Cats May Stop Eating with a UTI

There are a couple main reasons why cats may stop eating when they have a urinary tract infection (UTI):

Pain while urinating – One of the most common symptoms of a UTI in cats is painful, frequent urination. The infection causes inflammation in the bladder and urethra, making urination very uncomfortable. This pain can make cats associate the litter box with discomfort, causing them to avoid eating and drinking so they don’t have to urinate as much.

Nausea from infection – In addition to local pain and inflammation, UTIs can sometimes spread systemically and cause nausea and generalized discomfort. The toxins from the infection circulating in the bloodstream can reduce appetite. Furthermore, some cats may feel too unwell to eat when the infection makes them feel nauseous or fatigued.

Overall, the discomfort, pain, and illness associated with a UTI is a major reason why affected cats often stop eating. Seeking prompt veterinary treatment is important, as medications can help reduce the infection and get cats feeling better so their appetite returns.

Other Symptoms of UTI in Cats

In addition to decreased appetite, there are several other common symptoms of UTIs in cats that cat owners should look out for. These include:

Increased urination – Cats with UTIs will often try to urinate more frequently but only pass small amounts of urine each time. This straining and frequent urination is a telltale sign of a UTI (

Crying out in pain – Some cats will cry out in pain when they try to urinate due to the burning sensation caused by the infection. This pained vocalization when urinating is a clear indicator of a UTI (

Blood in urine – The inflammation from a UTI can cause bleeding in the urinary tract, leading to blood being visible in the cat’s urine. Any presence of blood when a cat urinates warrants an urgent vet visit (

When to See the Vet

If your cat stops eating or drinking for more than 24 hours, it’s crucial to take them to the vet right away. Loss of appetite and lethargy can be signs of a serious health issue like a UTI that needs prompt medical care. According to PetMD, “If your cat stops eating and drinking for more than 24 hours, be sure to seek veterinary care immediately.”

Other concerning signs that warrant an urgent vet visit include crying or straining to urinate, frequent attempts to pee with little urine production, blood in the urine, and a fever over 103°F. Pet parents should monitor for these symptoms and contact the vet if they appear.

Cats can deteriorate quickly when they have a UTI, so don’t try home remedies if your cat stops eating. Only a vet can diagnose and properly treat a feline UTI. The sooner antibiotic treatment begins, the faster your cat will likely recover and regain their appetite and energy levels.

Diagnosing a UTI

To diagnose a UTI in cats, the veterinarian will start with a urine sample test. This allows the vet to check for signs of infection such as increased white blood cells, bacteria, and crystals. The urine sample can help identify the type of bacteria causing the infection, which guides antibiotic treatment (source).

The vet will also do a full physical exam, carefully palpating the abdomen and bladder area for any tenderness, swelling, or masses. They will look for other symptoms of UTI like blood in the urine, straining to urinate, or frequent urination (source).

If the vet needs a closer look at the urinary tract, imaging tests like x-rays or ultrasound may be recommended. These can check for bladder stones, tumors, organ inflammation, or other issues that could contribute to the infection (source).

Treating a UTI

UTIs in cats are typically treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for cat UTIs include Amoxicillin, Cephalexin, Clavamox, and Enrofloxacin ( The type of antibiotic and length of treatment will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection.

In addition to antibiotics, vets may prescribe pain medication such as Metacam to help relieve discomfort caused by the UTI ( Increased fluid intake is also important to help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract. Vets may recommend feeding canned food or adding water to dry food to increase moisture intake.

Severe or recurring UTIs may require hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy and injectable antibiotics. In most cases though, oral antibiotics and increased fluid intake clear up the infection within 7-10 days.

It’s important to finish the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed by the vet, even if symptoms improve. Stopping antibiotics too soon can allow the infection to return.

Preventing UTIs

There are several ways to help prevent UTIs in cats:

Increased Water Intake: Making sure your cat drinks plenty of water is crucial, as this helps flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Provide fresh, clean water bowls around the house and consider getting a cat water fountain to encourage drinking. You can also add a bit of low sodium broth or tuna juice to the water to entice your cat.

High Quality Diet: Feeding your cat a high quality diet rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates can promote urinary tract health. Look for foods with added vitamins and avoid cheap, filler-heavy foods. Ask your vet for diet recommendations if your cat has recurrent UTIs.

Hygiene: Keeping your cat’s hindquarters and genital area clean can prevent bacteria buildup. Gently wipe the area with unscented pet wipes during grooming sessions. Avoid scented litters which can irritate the urethra. Scoop urine clumps from the litter box daily.

Some additional preventative options include urinary tract supplements, pheromone diffusers to reduce stress, and annual vet checkups to monitor urinary tract health. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best prevention plan for your cat.


In summary, UTIs are a common issue in cats that can lead to discomfort and serious health complications if left untreated. The most common symptoms of a UTI in cats include increased urination, blood in the urine, and vomiting. Cats may stop eating when they have a UTI due to the pain and discomfort it causes. It’s important to take your cat to the vet promptly if you notice any signs of a UTI. With a simple urine test, vets can diagnose a UTI and prescribe antibiotics and other treatments to clear up the infection. To help prevent UTIs in the future, ensure your cat has access to fresh water, feed wet food, and keep the litter box clean. While UTIs can be frustrating for cat owners, timely treatment and prevention methods can help your cat live a happy and healthy life.

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