My bladder health video explains that there are many different reasons why cats (and dogs) have lower urinary tract disease. Infection, inflammation, crystals and a pH problem with underlying dietary issues are really the major contributing factors to why dogs and cats both have urinary tract problems.
Urinary Tract Infections in Cats
I want to specifically address urinary tract infections in cats because although pH issues and crystal issues can lead to feline lower urinary tract disorders -- including Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS) -- the vast majority of the time there’s also a dietary component. And many cats end up with recurrent urinary tract infections.
How can you tell your cat has a recurrent infection happening in its bladder? Well, it could be that your vet has told you this, but other common signs include:
- Urinating outside the box
- Frequent trips to the litter box
- Straining or vocalizing in the box because they have irritated or inflamed bladders
- Exhibiting symptoms of pain: hunched up, crying, drinking more water, inappropriate urination
- Visible blood in the litter box
If you notice these signs you can presume your cat may have not only a urinary tract infection, but also inflammation present.
A urinalysis is an invaluable diagnostic tool to determine if there is blood, white blood cells or crystals present in your pet’s urine. Veterinarians can also evaluate urine sediment and determine if there are visible bacteria present in a urine sample. However, your veterinarian cannot determine exactly what bacteria is present without further testing.
A urine culture from your veterinarian can determine if your cat is dealing with a urinary tract infection as well as determine what medication must be used to treat the infection. Without culturing the bacteria present, your veterinarian has no idea what medication would be most successful in treating the infection.
Once you know for sure that your cat is dealing with urinary tract disease or infection, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are not necessarily a bad choice, however many cats suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections that are difficult to control and completely eliminate.
Preventing UTI Infection with D-Mannose
One important point all cat owners should know is how to recognize the difference between controlling a current infection and preventing additional infections from occurring.
This is where D-Mannose comes in.
D-Mannose is a wholly absorbable sugar that you feed to your kitty. It comes in capsule or powder form, which you include in your cat’s food. It’s a non-metabolizable sugar, which means it doesn’t wreck pH balance, it doesn’t wreck blood sugar, it doesn’t prompt additional pancreatic stress (insulin release), and it doesn’t change the level of good to bad bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract.
Your cat absorbs the sugar wholly and it is excreted through the kidneys and into the bladder. Bacteria are attracted to an energy source, so when D-mannose is present in the urine, the bacteria leave the lining of your cat’s bladder, clinging to the D-Mannose, and your cat voids out the bacteria.
It’s not a true antibiotic but D-Mannose absolutely has anti-microbial properties, which means it does a great job of fighting infections, naturally.
What’s especially interesting is that D-Mannose first got its roots in the large animal veterinary industry. Dairy cows, whether you know it or not, that are nursing are very predisposed to urinary tract infections. The dairy cow industry is really quite fanatical about trying to prevent urinary tract infections from occurring in dairy cows, because when dairy cows are lactating and are receiving antibiotics, the milk that is siphoned from those cows has to be thrown out because it has antibiotics in it.
So, dairy cow farmers do a good job of trying their darnedest to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in the female herds, because it’s literally throwing out profits. About 10 to 15 years ago, dairy cow farmers were turned on to D-Mannose because it’s natural and side-effect-free, there’s no withdrawal period, which means you don’t have to throw the milk out for a period of time after it’s given, and it does a terrific job of really preventing urinary tract infections in dairy cows and large animals.
Somehow, it went from large animal veterinary medicine to human medicine and certainly many of you may have even tried it yourself. D-Mannose is being used for women who have recurrent urinary tract infections and if you’re looking for more information, Dr. Mercola covers D-Mannose excellently at Mercola.com.
However, one area that people haven’t thought about the benefits of D-Mannose is with companion animals like dogs and cats. They also suffer from recurrent urinary tract problems, and kitties especially are very prone to recurrent inflammation (cystitis) that can predispose them to infection.
What to do if Your Cat Has Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
My recommendation, if you have a cat that has recurrent urinary tract infections, is that you consider one of two plans. The first is pulse therapy, which means one week out of the month you put your cat on D-Mannose. The second is if your cat has consistent low-grade inflammation (chronic cystitis) that can predispose your cat to recurrent infection, I recommend adding D-Mannose into your cats’ protocol daily for preventive therapy as a means of helping to prevent infection from occurring.