Bladder Infection in Cats

Last Updated on March 14, 2021 by Julia Wilson


The bladder is a hollow organ in the abdomen which collects and stores urine.

Cystitis is the inflammation or infection of the bladder, so you may see cystitis, bacterial cystitis OR urinary tract infection used in place of or in conjunction with a bladder infection. Most cases of cystitis are idiopathic, which means the cause can not be determined. Bacterial infection of the cat’s bladder is less common in cats than it is in dogs. E-Coli is the most common bacteria to infect the bladder.

There are different types of UTI depending on the location of the infection.

  • Cystitis – Infection of the bladder
  • Urethritis – Infection of the urethra
  • Pyelonephritis – Infection of the kidneys

Bladder infections are thought to develop when bacteria around the anus ascend into the urethra and the bladder.


Typical symptoms of bladder infection in cats may include:

  • Frequent urination, often only passing small amounts of urine (stranguria)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Urine that looks cloudy
  • Pain while urinating (dysuria)
  • Excessive genital licking
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Foul-smelling urine


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your cat and obtain a medical history from you. He may wish to run some tests to determine if the UTI is the result of a bacterial infection or idiopathic. Your cat may display pain when the vet palpitates the abdomen, and he may feel a thickening of the bladder.

As the symptoms of all types of UTI are very similar, your veterinarian will want to establish if the bladder is infected with bacteria or if the cause is idiopathic.

Diagnostic workup:

  • Urinalysis to check for the presence of red and white blood cells and bacteria.
  • Bacterial culture and sensitivity of a urine sample to determine the type of bacteria. E-Coli is the most common bacteria to infect the cat’s bladder; other bacteria include Proteus, staph, and strep. Urine is obtained by cystocentesis to ensure there has been no contamination of the sample during normal voiding. This involves the insertion of a fine needle through the abdomen and directly into the bladder to obtain a urine sample.
  • Persistent or recurrent bladder infections may warrant an abdominal x-ray or ultrasound to look for the presence of calculi in the bladder.


Acute bladder infection:

  • Oral antibiotics for two weeks.

Chronic bladder infection:

  • Bacterial culture to determine the most suitable type of antibiotic followed by the most effective antibiotic to kill the bacteria.

Home care

Home care is important. Try to encourage your cat to drink water and/or switch him to a wet diet to increase water intake.

Provide enough litter trays, one per cat, plus one extra, and clean daily.

If you have a long-haired cat with repeated bouts of a bladder infection, keeping the fur-trimmed around the anus may be of help.