How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Recover from a UTI?

What is a UTI in Cats?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in a cat’s urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. It is caused by bacteria that gets into the urinary tract and multiplies rapidly in the bladder (1).

Common symptoms of a UTI in cats include (2):

  • Frequent urination but only passing small amounts of urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Crying out or whining when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinating outside the litter box

UTIs in cats are often caused by bacteria like E. coli that spreads from the GI tract into the urinary tract. Other causes include bladder stones, tumors, anatomical defects, and Catheterization. Anything that obstructs the urinary flow or introduces bacteria into the urinary tract can lead to an infection.

How UTI Affects Cats

UTIs can cause several concerning symptoms in cats as the infection causes inflammation and irritation in the urinary tract. Some of the most common signs that a cat may have a UTI include:

Pain and discomfort – With a UTI, cats often experience a burning sensation and pain when trying to urinate. They may cry or meow when trying to go, since urination causes discomfort.

Changes in litter box habits – UTI pain and frequent urges to urinate often cause changes in litter box behavior. Cats may go more frequently, have accidents outside the box, or avoid using the litter box due to associating it with pain. [1]

Increased frequency of urination – The inflammation of a UTI creates a constant urge to urinate, even when the bladder isn’t full. Cats may try to go more often but only pass small amounts of urine each time.

Blood in urine – In some cases, UTIs can cause bleeding and blood will be visible in the cat’s urine. This symptom requires prompt veterinary attention.

Diagnosing UTI in Cats

If a UTI is suspected, the vet will start by performing a urinalysis. This involves checking a urine sample for signs of infection such as increased white blood cells, bacteria, and crystals. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, a urinalysis is the first test a vet will conduct if urinary signs are present (source).

The vet may also perform a urine culture, which involves growing bacteria from the urine sample to identify the specific type causing the infection. This helps determine the most effective antibiotic for treatment.

Imaging tests like x-rays or ultrasound may also be used to check for stones or tumors in the urinary tract that could be causing the UTI symptoms. According to WebMD, these tests allow the vet to examine the bladder and urethra (source).

Treatment Options for UTI in Cats

Treating a UTI in cats will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the infection. Some common treatment options include:

Antibiotics – Most UTIs in cats are caused by bacteria, so a course of antibiotics is usually prescribed. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, vets will often start with a broad-spectrum antibiotic that targets common UTI bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus to provide quick relief while waiting for culture results. Antibiotics may be given orally or by injection for 7-14 days.1

Pain Medication – UTIs can be very painful, so cats may be prescribed pain relievers like buprenorphine to help them feel comfortable while recovering. This is especially important if there is inflammation in the urinary tract.

Increased Hydration – Encouraging a cat to drink more water can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Cats with UTIs should have fresh water available at all times. Adding more water bowls around the home or feeding wet food can increase hydration.

Dietary Changes – Prescription urinary health diets lower urine pH and increase hydration to prevent crystal and stone formation. These foods may be recommended, especially for recurring UTIs.2

With prompt treatment, most uncomplicated UTIs in cats can be resolved within 1-2 weeks. However, recurring or chronic UTIs may require longer treatment and additional diagnostics to identify an underlying cause.

How Long Do Cat UTIs Take to Treat?

The course of antibiotics for a cat UTI is usually 10-14 days, according to veterinary guidelines (Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs and Cats). However, the treatment duration depends on the severity of the infection and response to medication. Some cats may need 3-4 weeks of antibiotics to fully resolve the infection.

In addition to antibiotics, cats with UTIs may require other medications or therapies as part of the treatment plan. For instance, your vet may prescribe pain relievers if your cat is uncomfortable when urinating. Special urinary foods or increased water intake may be recommended to help flush bacteria from the urinary tract. In recurrent or severe cases, additional diagnostics and imaging may be needed to identify any underlying causes requiring further treatment.

Your vet will want to recheck your cat, typically 1-2 weeks after starting treatment, to ensure the UTI has resolved and no complications have developed (Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery). It’s important to give all medications as directed and complete the full course of antibiotics. With appropriate treatment guided by your vet, most cat UTIs will resolve within 1-2 weeks, though cats may need to stay on a therapeutic diet longer.

Tips for Giving a Cat Medication

Giving cats medication can be challenging, but there are some tips to make it easier on both you and your feline friend.

For pilling techniques, gently hold your cat’s head from above, open their mouth with your other hand, and place the pill as far back on their tongue as possible. Then hold their mouth closed until you see them swallow. You can also place the pill in a small amount of wet food that your cat likes. Just make sure they eat the full portion.

Compounding medication into a tasty treat is another option. Mix the medication into canned food, a meat baby food, or Pill Pockets. The food helps mask the taste and makes it more enticing for picky cats. Be sure to give the full portion so they ingest the entire dose.

The key is being patient, consistent, and rewarding your cat after giving the medication. Remain calm, talk soothingly, and consider giving treats after. The more positive the experience, the easier future dosing will be. Just take your time and don’t rush the process.

For more techniques, see VCA Animal Hospitals and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Preventing UTIs in Cats

There are several ways cat owners can help prevent their cats from developing urinary tract infections:

Increased hydration – Encouraging your cat to drink more water can help flush bacteria from their urinary tract. Providing fresh, clean water daily, adding water to their wet food, and using cat fountains can all promote hydration.

Urinary/bladder health diet – Prescription urinary health diets contain ingredients to make the urine more dilute and acidic, which makes it harder for bacteria to thrive. Veterinarians may recommend these diets for cats prone to UTIs.

Stress reduction – Stress can contribute to UTIs in cats. Providing a calm, comfortable home environment, keeping their routine consistent, and using pheromone diffusers/sprays can help reduce feline stress levels.

Providing clean litter box – Scooping waste from the litter box daily and completely changing the litter regularly helps minimize bacteria that could enter the urinary tract. Having enough litter boxes for your cat is also important.

Other preventative options may include urinary tract supplements, probiotics, and prescription medications. Check with your veterinarian for advice tailored to your cat’s needs.

With proactive care, many UTIs can be avoided in cats. However, if your cat displays signs of a UTI, contact your vet right away for prompt treatment.

When to See a Vet

If your cat’s UTI symptoms do not improve after 48 hours of treatment at home, it is time to see the vet. According to PetMD (, you should take your cat to the vet immediately if the infection persists after a couple days of treatment. Likewise, Blue Cross Vet Hospital ( recommends bringing your cat to the vet if symptoms have not improved after initial at-home treatment.

You should also see the vet right away if your cat stops eating, becomes lethargic, or begins vomiting. These can be signs that the UTI is getting worse or spreading to the kidneys, which requires urgent veterinary care. Hope Crossing explains that a loss of appetite or lethargy indicates the cat is feeling too unwell to eat or move around normally ( Vomiting may signal the infection is causing nausea or other issues. Do not wait if your cat starts exhibiting any of these symptoms on top of a UTI.

Seeing the vet promptly when a UTI persists or gets worse gives your cat the best chance at a full recovery. The vet can provide prescription medications, fluid therapy, or other intensive treatment not available at home. Catching a spreading or stubborn infection early prevents kidney damage and other complications down the road. Contact your vet right away if your cat’s UTI is not improving after a couple days of home treatment or if worrying symptoms arise like vomiting, lethargy, or appetite loss.

Prognosis for UTI in Cats

The prognosis for cats with UTIs is generally good if treated promptly and properly. Most uncomplicated UTIs in cats resolve within 7-10 days when appropriate antibiotic therapy is started [1]. However, the prognosis depends on several factors:

– Severity of infection: Mild infections have a better prognosis than severe, systemic infections.

– Underlying conditions: Any underlying conditions like kidney disease, bladder stones, anatomical defects, etc. can affect the prognosis.

– Recurrence: UTIs often recur in cats, especially if an underlying cause is not addressed. Recurrent UTIs may be more difficult to cure.

– Treatment compliance: Giving oral antibiotics as prescribed is key. Lack of compliance can lead to treatment failure.

– Untreated infections: Without proper antibiotic treatment, the infection can worsen and spread to the kidneys. This can cause permanent kidney damage and even be life-threatening.

While the prognosis is generally positive, regular veterinary follow up is recommended to monitor for cure and prevent recurrence. Good owner compliance with medication and any recommended dietary changes is also important for optimal outcomes.

The Takeaway

Urinary tract infections are common in cats and can lead to severe illness if left untreated. Key points to remember:

  • Look for signs like frequent urination, blood in urine, and crying during urination which may indicate a UTI.
  • See your veterinarian promptly for diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics.
  • Follow medication instructions carefully and complete the full course.
  • Preventative care like increased water intake, balanced diet, and hygiene can help reduce UTI risk.
  • Untreated UTIs can spread to the kidneys and become life threatening. Veterinary care is crucial.

For more information on cat UTIs, visit your veterinarian or reference resources like:

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