Urinary tract disease in cats is a big deal. In fact, one of the most common reasons cats are abandoned to animal shelters (and sometimes euthanized thereafter if they can't be re-homed) is due to urinary issues. Fortunately, there have been many medical and nutritional advances made to help resolve urinary tract disease. Let's take a look at some of the more typical symptoms of urinary tract disease in cats and then how it can be alleviated.
Portions adapted from Feline Urinary Tract Disease: What You Should Know by Lorie Huston, DVM
Feline idiopathic cystitis, also known as bladder inflammation, is the most common cause of lower urinary tract disease in cats. This inflammation, in turn, can lead to straining when urinating. It can eventually even lead to more severe and emergency type of situations like the formation of stones in the bladder or the formation of a urethral plug, which is a life-threatening condition that causes the cat (almost always male) to become "blocked" (i.e., unable to urinate).
Cats with urinary tract disease often urinate an abnormal amount of times each day because little to no urination is being evacuated each time. This is obviously very frustrating and also dangerous for the cat because when a cat is blocked they are unable to rid themselves of bodily toxic waste products through their urine.
The pain associated with urinary tract disease may be so severe that some cats will lick their penile or vaginal area (or at times the abdominal area) as a way to try and self-soothe. Cats with urinary tract disease may also be more irritable than usual.
Cats with urinary tract disease will often have urine which is blood-tinged or discolored. Females are at greater risk for urinary tract infections that lead to blood in the urine than are males.
Urinating outside of the litter box is not always a medical issue, but you should be concerned of it, especially when combined with any of the other aforementioned symptoms
If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of urinary tract disease or you suspect something is wrong, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately, especially if your cat is male or has stopped urinating altogether (possibly due to being blocked). He or she will evaluate your cat and collect urine samples for testing. In some cases, blood testing may be required. Radiographs (X-rays) are also often necessary, as well as an abdominal ultrasound, in order to diagnose the cause of FLUTD